By Selenia Paz, guest blogger
It is very difficult for me to find something related to A Christmas Carol that I will not like. There have been adaptations or retellings that I have not liked, but they are few. But like a runner who has been out of practice for some time, it took me a few tries to pick up speed and really get into the first novel in author Thom Thomas’s Christmas Carol-based series: Give or Take a Pebble: The Beginning. The character descriptions are intriguing and the author pulls you into each of their private worlds, their hopes, and their dreams. Dr. Joshua Krump finds himself seriously in debt and, equally unfortunately, having feelings for Belinda Cratchit, the sister of one young Tim whose health is suffering dreadfully.
In . . . Give or Take a Shilling: Discovery, the second book in the series, the story begins with a very sad continuation of the lives of Belinda Cratchit and Joshua Krump. There were times during both books that I had to cringe at the picture painted by the descriptions, especially during descriptions of hospitals and other parts of everyday life during this time, and this feeling was especially strong throughout the second book. Author Thom Thomas did a good job of describing conditions for those living during this time, and part of the tone of the second book reminded me of The Mystery of Edwin Drood, especially when Joshua Krump awakes after having utilized the services of an opium den. I had a little bit of a difficult time picturing Belinda with Dr. Krump while reading the series, even throughout the second book. By far my favorite parts of the second book were the visits to Scrooge’s (and his nephew Fred’s) home and workplace.
If you are a fan of A Christmas Carol, you should definitely give these books a try. For me, they seemed a bit darker than I remember A Christmas Carol being, but that may be due to the (accurate) descriptions of life for those who are not too fortunate. Life at the time was very difficult, cold, and sad, and these books left me with some of that feeling. I also read them during a time when I was making several visits to the doctor myself, and I could not help but vividly remember some of the descriptions in these books because of that. If you are not comfortable reading certain kinds of descriptions, such as descriptions of body parts and medical procedures, you may not enjoy parts of this book.
I would be interested to find out how much research went into the writing of these books, because the interest the author has in the story is very clear. A good read for fans of A Christmas Carol and for those looking for a holiday read.
Review copies provided by the author.
Selenia Paz is a children's librarian and blogs about books and crafts at http://noonvale.blogspot.com.