Monday, March 11, 2019

Review: The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand

The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand
The Afterlife of Holly Chase
By Cynthia Hand
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased

To Sum It Up: Holly Chase is a failed Scrooge. After receiving a visit from three ghosts on Christmas Eve warning her to change her ways, Holly completely ignores them and a few days later, she dies. Then begins Holly’s afterlife as an employee of Project Scrooge, the company that tried to reform her. Holly is Project Scrooge’s Ghost of Christmas Past, a job that she’s not entirely keen on until the team begins planning for this year’s assignment: Ethan Winters, a Scrooge whom Holly takes a particular interest in when she starts to realize how much his life experiences mirror her own. As Christmas Eve approaches, Holly’s duties as the Ghost of Christmas Past increasingly take a backseat to what her heart wants.

Review: I’m a huge fan of Cynthia Hand’s angel series Unearthly, so I was very excited to read her modern take on A Christmas Carol. Hand’s version tells the story of Holly Chase, who failed to be swayed by the efforts of Project Scrooge, a secret company that tries to save one Scrooge-like individual every Christmas. After being visited by the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future à la Dickens’s classic tale, Holly ignores all of the ghosts’ warnings and subsequently dies. Her afterlife consists of being a Project Scrooge employee, as its current Ghost of Christmas Past. Holly is less than thrilled about this purgatory/hell she’s landed in and hasn’t changed much, if at all, from her days as a mortal.

It doesn’t take long to realize why Holly was selected as a Scrooge: she’s selfish, materialistic, and mean. A good portion of the novel sees Holly put her responsibilities as the GCP on the backburner as she falls for the current Scrooge, Ethan Winters. Holly’s recklessness is sometimes cringe-worthy, yet it also builds suspense. Will Project Scrooge discover what she’s up to? Will she put Ethan’s future in jeopardy by not doing her job?

I found the middle section of the book, which focuses on Holly meeting Ethan in secret when she should be carrying out her GCP duties kind of slow moving. I wasn’t really sold on the romance here. My investment was in whether or not Ethan would be another failed Scrooge thanks in large part to Holly’s egregious breaking of Project Scrooge protocol.

I admit that I was prepared to be a bit disappointed with this one until—and I must squeeze in a bad Christmas pun here—things started wrapping up. I loved the book’s conclusion; it was extremely satisfying with just the right amount of closure, yet without being hokey. Although I would have enjoyed the book even more if the middle part had been as strong as the finish, overall this was a solid retelling as well as a solid holiday read.

All in All: I struggled some reading through the romance bits, but the ending was totally worth hanging in there for.


  1. Sounds like a fun read, in spite of the somewhat slow middle- I love the idea!

    1. It was a clever take on the original story, for sure! Really looking forward now to reading her collaboration with Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows on retelling Jane Eyre!


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