The Girl Who Saved Christmas by Matt Haig and Chris Mould (book review).

November 7, 2016 | By | Reply More

Christmas,’ said Mr Creeper and his mouth twisted as if the word had a horrid taste. ‘Christmas is only happy if you are a fool. Or a child. And you are obviously both.’


‘The Girl Who Saved Christmas’ is the sort of book that you want to freely distribute to adults and children alike as it lights a little spark of joy inside just reading it. Matt Haig previously gave us ‘A Boy Called Christmas’, which is an origin tale for Father Christmas himself.

Evoking the spirit of Roald Dahl, this is a modern fairy tale with a happy ending and a sprinkle of fairy dust. It reminded me of ‘Elf’ and ‘Arthur Christmas’, in other words it’s an instant classic.

That’s not to say this avoids the issues of poverty and despair. It is, after all, set at the time of Charles Dickens and indeed he features here. Amelia is a girl who lives in extreme poverty with her dying mother. She’s a chimneysweep and one of her clients, Mr. Creeper, runs the workhouse. He’s planning to make Amelia move in there as soon as her mother is dead and she’s planning to escape this fate.

A year before, the hope in Amelia’s heart saved ‘Christmas For Father Christmas’ and the inhabitants of the North Pole but this year a dreadful attack by trolls means it’s abandoned. Amelia is in the depths of misery as even her small amount of hope is lost when her mother dies. Alone in the world, apart from her cat, Captain Soot, Amelia does what she can to escape the workhouse, even meeting Charles Dickens along the way.

As Amelia starts to despair, Father Christmas is trying to make Christmas better again. There is a lot of work to do to make it the beacon of hope and love for the elves of the North Pole and the human children. Father Christmas will need all the help he can get, including the marvellous elf family of Humdrum, his intrepid reporter wife, Noosh, and son, Little Mim.

There are dark times in this book but is enlivened by the delightful characters of the North Pole. The story also features trolls, the Truth Pixie and the Editor of the Daily Snow, Father Vodol. The message of hope overcoming all odds is compounded by characters in the human world helping Amelia along.

The illustrations by Chris Mould are gorgeous and capture the spirit of the prose. They would make amazing Christmas cards, too. The prose is written with great care and love and this makes it a superb book at Christmas to give to children and the young at heart.

This is a really lovely story to be read again and again with hot chocolate and gingerbread. There is a lot of that in this book. I look forward to the films of the two books (please) and hopefully there will be another follow up next year.

Elf fact: ‘Impossible’ is a swear word at the North Pole.

Human fact: I’ll be filling everyone’s stocking with this.

Sue Davis

October 2016

(pub: Canongate Books. 336 page illustrated hardback. Price: £12.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-78211-857-2)

check out website: www.canongate.tv/


Category: Books, Fantasy

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