Saturday, 1 December 2012

FICTION REVIEW: The Christmas Spirits - Whitley Strieber

Release Date: 11/10/12


A modern retelling of the Charles Dicken's classic A Christmas Carol, by the author who inspired the film The Day After Tomorrow.George Moore is a modern day Scrooge, a futures trader who drives his staff hard, and won't let his assistant go home to look after her autistic son on Christmas Eve.Like Scrooge he is mean with money, but he is also mean with his sympathies and his time. He has to swerve to avoid putting money in a charity box and also crosses the road to avoid a family he thinks are probably gypsies on his way to dinner at a cheap cafeteria. An old man sitting nearby looks as if he might be looking for the warmth of some human contact. George refuses to meet his eye and hurries home.Various slightly odd, even disconcerting things happen. He encounters a nun who looks like an elderly child. He sees a Santa in the window of a department store, who seems to emerge from his Grotto, look confused, and is then surrounded by small elf-like figures who drag him back behind the curtains. Finally, when he arrives back in his apartment the old man from the cafeteria suddenly appears and reveals himself as George's old mentor in trading and in greed. Bill Hill reveals that he is dead and that he has come to give George a warning. He warns George he will have three visitors that night, and then in a flash he disappears.So it comes about that, as Bill Hill said, George receives three visitors that Christmas Eve, just as Scrooge was visited by the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future. But these are not the ghosties and sprites that frightened Dickens's readers. George's visitors are more ambiguous, more frightening to a modern sensibility. They are visitors that will give even today's reader goose bumps.They take George on an emotional journey that like Scrooge's journey - and the journey in another Christmas story, It's a Wonderful Life - teaches him the true value of Christmas, the true meaning of life and finally to love. This new classic is both very scary and very Christmassy.


At this time of year, thoughts always turn to old classics that have become entrenched with the memories of Christmas past as well as having earned a place in your heart for their messages. Here in this book by Whitley Strieber Dicken’s epic Christmas Carol is brought up to date with the added bonus of humour. Its definitely quirky, something to make you think and when added to an authorly style that feels like that warm mug of mulled wine in your hand, is a book that I was more than happy to spend time with. Great stuff all round.

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