Thursday, January 4, 2018

Book Review: The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand

Title: The After Life of Holly Chase
Written by: Cynthia Hand
Published: October 24, 2017 by HarperTeen (HarperCollins)

(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: On Christmas Eve five years ago, Holly was visited by three ghosts who showed her how selfish and spoiled she'd become. They tried to convince her to mend her ways.

She didn't.

And then she died.

Now she's stuck working for the top-secret company Project Scrooge--as the latest Ghost of Christmas Past. Every year, they save another miserly grouch.

Every year, Holly stays frozen at seventeen while her family and friends go on living without her. So far, Holly's afterlife has been miserable.

But this year, everything is about to change. . . .

When I heard there was a modern retelling of A Christmas Carol I was totally interested. And then my TBTB Secret Santa got me a copy so I threw caution to the wind and decided to read it for the holidays. And I’m glad I did because this was a fun and interesting retelling and the perfect Christmas read.

What I loved about this book is that it was a retelling that knew it was a retelling. That sounds really weird, but trust me, this book was super meta. There were all kinds of layers to this story. First, you had the basics of Project Scrooge which brought the classic story into the modern era. That in and of itself was kind of cool. I liked the way that they broke everything down for you about the story and the characters. It’s been ages since I read or saw A Christmas Carol so it was a nice refresher. But on top of that you had Holly and her development as a former Scrooge which added more to the story.

However, I do think that the nature of the world building wasn’t my favorite. It was definitely a tell instead of a shoe sort of thing. There was a lot of info dumps about A Christmas Carol and how it all fit into the modern version of it. I get why they explained it that way but that’s not my favorite. But I will say, I don’t think this book was heavy-handed. It very easily could have been one of those books with a message that hit you over the head with what it’s trying to tell you about humanity but it didn’t do that at all.

Part of why I think that was the case is the characters. This book had some super interesting and complex characters. First and foremost is the titular Holly Chase. Holly is one of those unlikeable characters who has great development. At the beginning of the book you really hate her. She’s a terrible person and you kind of feel like she gets what is coming to her. But by the end you are cheering for her to succeed. The author does a great job of not only developing her throughout the book but making her sympathetic even when she is at her worst. There were also some good secondary characters. For many of them there was more than meets the eye. But I am being entirely honest, the real star here is definitely Holly.

Plus the great thing about this book is that it is a fast and fun story. It sounds weird to say that about a book based on A Christmas Carol but it kind of is. It had a good flow to it. I cruised through it, starting it on Christmas Eve and finishing it in just a few days despite all the family gatherings and holiday events. My mom even marveled at the fact that a day later I was half finished with the book. But I really wanted to keep reading. Ever chance I got I read a chapter or two. It’s the kind of book you could totally read in a weekend or even just a day.

All in all, The Afterlife of Holly Chase was a great read. It was an engaging and meta retelling, had complex and interesting characters, and a good pacing. I know the holidays are passed but this is a great read for this time of year.

I give The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand 8.5 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy/Borrow. I really enjoyed this. If you like retellings or are a fan of A Christmas Carol then definitely check this out. Or if you are looking for a Christmas read next year, definitely snag this one.

Have you read The Afterlife of Holly Chase? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!


  1. I've never heard of this book but I am a huge fan of the Christmas Carol-- this novel sounds like an interesting retelling!

  2. I really think this book would be perfect for me. :)