The Afterlife of Holly Chase
by Cynthia Hand
I had high hopes for this because I loved the author’s sense of humor in My Lady Jane. Some flashes of that humor are definitely in this story as well….but it lacked some meat in the main relationships.
We encounter Holly Chase already dead, employed as Ghost of Christmas Past in Project Scrooge. She’s stuck with a new enthusiastic, perky assistant with a terrible fashion sense just as this year’s scrooge is announced. Not a crusty old man, but a young handsome rich boy the same age as Holly.
So she lies to everyone and starts meeting him in person.
The idea of this story is so, so cool. Holly’s job is to find the people in the newest scrooge’s life, Ethan’s life, that correspond to the characters of the original story. They need to find, for example, the Jacob Marley (who turns out to be one of Ethan’s family members) and the girl Scrooge loved and then lost when he started becoming miserly, Belle.
Only Project Scrooge can’t seem to find a Belle for Ethan…and Holly is worried she’s messed up his entire chance at changing his life for the better.
There are three really important relationships for Holly. I think the story did a pretty good job of drawing a picture of her old friend, Ro. We get to see Holly watching a grown up Ro and regretting much, although we don’t get fun friend-banter. That happens slowly with her new assistant, and for me, that was the meatiest relationship in the book as assistant and Holly spend a lot of time together and slowly unravel each other’s secrets.
But not Ethan.
And in some ways, I wanted some of that rich, emotional depth to be also connected to Ethan. They see each other at a swimming pool and fall into insta-hots for each other (the scene where Holly gets to experience Ethan’s feelings as he sees her for the first time is so cool– totally wish fulfillment!) and that’s about it. So that’s where the spark went out of my relationship with the book and mostly kept reading to find out which characters in Ethan’s life corresponded to which characters in Christmas Carol. And also to find out how Holly’s cover gets blown.
There is a bit of a twist ending, so that’s cool. I’m a little sad I wasn’t taken in more by Holly as a character because the concept of Project Scrooge is so cool. This is pretty great as a book for giving to teens, though, in the sense that they’ll get a bit about Dickens along with going along for Holly’s ride as a self-centered teen lashing out at her father. She and Ethan pretty much only kiss, so that’s a safe level for most YA folks.
this would make a great Hallmark movie.