The Afterlife of Holly Chase // AKA An Excuse to Use ALL the Christmas GIFs

The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand
Published October 24th 2017 by HarperTeen
Classified as Christmas, Retelling, & Young Adult
Obtained as Ebook

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. . . .



Content & Trigger Warnings: Death of a loved one, grief.

Alfred, whatchu doin’ in a Muppet’s movie? 

It’s Christmas, and that can only mean one thing: CHRISTMAS MOVIES!!!! Growing up, my cheese-ball of a mother (bless her heart) lived and breathed Hallmark Channel original movies – you know the ones I’m talking about. Small budgets, large amounts of sap, an ending that usually involves a heart-warming Christmas kiss…yeah, those ones. If I’m honest, I wouldn’t be surprised if ol’ Mummy dearest was one of the 58 people who watched The Christmas Prince everyday for 18 days straight. Dear goodness, make it stop.

Let it be known that Hallmark Christmas movies are not my cup of hot cocoa. My tastes are much too refined for that – give me a good, solid slapstick comedy like Home Alone or Elf any day. Yes, that’s so much more highbrow of you, Kat. And surprise not surprise, I watch Mickey’s Christmas Carol every year because heck, I’m a Disnerd and I own it. Also because it’s TRADITION! (If you didn’t sing that like the song from Fiddler on the Roof, then go back and do it again). This year however, I decided shake things up and watch the The Muppet Christmas Carol instead because heck, I’m a rebel and I own it.

Actual footage of my anxiety calling me out for lying about being a rebel.

The Hype

When I realized that there was a super-creative reimagining of A Christmas Carol floating around like a snowflake in the bookisphere, I obviously had to get my hands on a copy BECAUSE THE HOLIDAY SPIRIT IS STRONG WITH THIS ONE AND I NEED ALL THE GINGERBREAD COOKIES, SANTA HATS, AND RED-RIBBONED-WREATHS IN MY LIFE.

Although I was about as excited to start reading The Afterlife of Holly Chase as a toddler on Christmas morning (It’s written by one of the Lady Jaines, for goodness sake!!!), it didn’t quite live up to my great expectations (hahahahahsobs. I will refrain from any more Charles Dickens puns in this post….probably). But seriously, it was like that moment when you hopefully tear open a present….only to discover that it’s only a pair of socks. ALL THE DISAPPOINTMENT.

The Creativity

A Christmas Carol has been retold (both on the page and on the screen) so many times that the whole story has practically become a cliche. You might argue, “It’s all been done before. ‘Humbug’ and ‘God bless us every one,’ and all that. What else is there to add?” A lot, apparently.

With her book, The Afterlife of Holly Chase, Cynthia Hand has managed to create something fun, unique, and completely unlike anything else I have read. Leave it to one of the writers of My Lady Jane to take trite, overdone source material and redress it as something fresh and original. Only a person with a great deal of imagination can do that.

Okay. Welcome, Stephanie. This is my team at Project Scrooge. We each have a team, the other two Ghosts and I, and we each have a code name. I’m called the Lamp, the Ghost of Christmas Present is the Clock, and the Ghost of Christmas Future is the Hood. Don’t ask why.

The Plot & Worldbuilding

Despite the story’s unique premise, some aspects of the plot felt stilted and unbelievable (which is kind of saying something, considering A Christmas Carol is all about ghosts… and last time I checked, ghosts aren’t ranked very high on the believability scale). The stilted mix of normal and paranormal felt awkwardly handled (HAHA get it? Cause like, the author’s last name is Hand? No? Okay. Shutting up.) as was the book’s take on ghosts. The main character, Holly, is dead-but-not-dead and doesn’t have a life outside of Project Scrooge, yet people can see her, touch her, and even kiss her?🤔🤔🤔 The author’s hurried explanation of this did little to convince me or to fix the clumsy worldbuilding.

Me when I realized that this book was not going to live up to my expectations.

I’d even tried to run away once, but I hadn’t gotten very far before my arms and legs went numb and I passed out in the middle of the airport. I’d woken up right back on the green sofa in the PS building, where Boz had gently explained to me (again) that I didn’t have a life outside of the company. I was there because they wanted me to be there, until they’d decided I’d been there long enough. In other words, I was stuck.

The Ending

The ending of The Afterlife of Holly Chase is like a particularly hard piece of fruitcake – you can love it, you can hate it, but either way it’s a bit hard to swallow. The way Cynthia Hand flips some magical switches and enlarges some fine print in order to save the day not only feels contrived, but it falls too close to the deus ex machina side of the plot device spectrum for my liking. Sure, I want a happy ending as much as the next reader, but I would prefer if it wasn’t brought about in a sudden and unbelievable way.

The Christmas Spirit

All in all, while reading The Afterlife of Holly Chase was not some life-changing literary endeavor, it was a great way to get into the Christmas spirit and enjoy the holiday season.

(Side note: Charles Dickens is a man after my own heart. I mean, taking the phrase, “the Spirit of Christmas” and making a pun out of it? Interpreting the word “Spirit” to mean those of the ghostly variety is brilliant! You have my respect, sir!)

And with that, I want to wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! May your day be merry and bright!

MIX IT ALL UP AND YOU GET… 3 GINGERBREAD MEN!

Have you read The Afterlife of Holly Chase or Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol? Your thoughts?

How was your Christmas/Winter holiday? What did you do?

What are some of your holiday traditions?

What is your favorite Christmas movie?

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21 thoughts on “The Afterlife of Holly Chase // AKA An Excuse to Use ALL the Christmas GIFs

  1. Thanks for the review Kat! My mom has been watching a lot of Hallmark movies too, and while I love christmas, I’m not on that level of christmas-y yet 😀 I’m currently reading this book but another book I read put me on a reading slump, I don’t think I would finish it before the year ends. It’s not a bad book though, it’s just I’m not in the mood (look who’s being a Scrooge now). Merry christmas! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Tasya! I appreciate all of your support. I’m also glad to know that I’m not the only one who doesn’t love Hallmark channel movies haha 🙂 Here’s wishing you a wonderful new year and I hope you get out of your reading slump soon!

      Like

  2. Wonderful review, Kat, I loved reading it as always and admire your graphics and everything just so, so much. I’m sorry to hear that the mix of normal and paranormal felt a little weirdly handled, I get what you mean though, it’s hard to pull this mix off very well sometimes in books!
    I hope you’ had a wonderful Christmas and are having a lovely holiday season ❤ ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love this review. Especially the PUNS. And the graphics of course😍 but gahhhh I’m sorry to hear this book didn’t quite live up to the hype! That’s always unfortunate, but at least it got you in the holiday spirit🎄 hehe Merry Christmas Kat!!! ❤️💚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. THANK YOU FOR APPRECIATING THE GIFS (oh and the review too of course haha). I hope that if you do end up reading this book, that you’ll enjoy it (though now that the Christmas season is done and gone, you might not read it for awhile haha).

      Here’s wishing you a wonderful new year full of ALL THE BOOKS and the time to read them as well 🙂 Thanks for always being amazing!!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for your kind words (especially concerning the appreciation of my GIF choices). Did I spend way too much time debating which GIFs I should use in this post? Yes, yes I did. Anyways, here’s wishing you a wonderful new year filled with ALL THE BOOKS. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I actually started this one, as you might remember, but never got to finish it before Christmas! I know, I know, I’m a terrible Christmas blogger… But hey, at least one of us got to enjoy it! 😀

    I’m super sad that you didn’t absolutely LOVE it but oh well, I guess it was still a good read despite everything 🙂 Expectations are the mother of all evil, let me tell you. And I guess I reached that conclusion pretty early in my reading, which made me lose interest and not pick it up again unfortunately 😦

    I might still do it, though, and hope I enjoy it more than you (or at least as much as 3 gingerbread men, that would be terrific!)

    Amazing review, hon ❤ And I hope you have a lovely 2019!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. SOHPIEEEE THANK YOU ONCE AGAIN AND ALWAYS. And if you’re a terrible Christmas blogger, then everybody is, because I have never seen more Christmas spirit in a single blog before (I mean, even your social media icons have little santa hats on them, for goodness’ sake! And they ARE SO DANG CUTE TOO).

      Anyways, I hope you have an amazing 2019 as welllll! I look forward to interacting with you more 🙂

      Like

      1. AW STAHP ❤ ❤ Your blog was super Christmasy as well and I loved it!! If it hadn't won me over before, it certainly would now hahaha ^^
        (And I do go overboard when it comes to festive seasons… Beware! xD)
        Thanks so much, lovely! And same here *hugs*

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m in the middle of the audio book right now and am actually really enjoying it. I’ll admit the world building isn’t the best (still confused as to how these “ghosts but not ghosts” end up in this project scrooge purgatory tbh) but I think it’s hilarious how they’ve given the traditional story a bit of a “corporate” spin lol. I honestly am not sure how the ending will pan out but I’m excited!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so glad that I wasn’t the only one who was confused by the “ghost but not ghost” dealio going on in this book. But yeah, the creativity behind this whole retelling is on a level unto itself. I wish I could be just a tiny bit this creative haha.

      Thank you so much for your wonderful comment! I hope you have a wonderful 2019, Christina! 🙂

      Like

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