Sunday, January 2, 2011

Matchless by Gregory Maguire

iconiconI always try to read at least one Christmas book during the holiday season.  Last year I reread A Christmas Carol for the first time since I was a kid, and the year before I reviewed a few fun children's Christmas books that I saw at Barnes & Noble.

In December 2010, I spotted this book — Gregory Maguire's Matchless — on one of the tables in Barnes & Noble.  I don't usually go for modern Christmas books, since I think they usually aren't very good, and the publishers and booksellers are just counting on the author's name to sell books (especially in the romance genre, where you see this practice the most).  But I love the story "The Little Match Girl," so I thought I'd try it out.

On one hand, the ebook — which I got through the library — was very nice.  It included the illustrations, which seems to have been half the reason for the book in the first place, so you weren't giving up part of the experience by reading the ebook.

However, I wasn't all that impressed by the story itself.  It was pretty short, and although it expanded on Hans Christian Andersen's original story, I didn't think it improved on it at all.  It seemed to prove rather than to disprove my theory that modern Christmas books are designed to take advantage of an author's name and the time of year to sell more books.  I also think it is probably meant to be given to someone rather than purchased for yourself to read (considering you could read the entire thing while sitting in the cafe at Barnes & Noble).

I hate to be so critical, but I feel very Scrooge-like about the silly practice of big authors releasing Christmas books (or collections of short stories) that sell simply because their names are on them.  Bah humbug.

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