Illustrated by Chris Mould.
Published by Canongate Books, 2017.
This is the second book in Matt Haig’s Christmas trilogy. Some time has passed since the story of the first book and Noosh, the little elf, is now grown up with a family of her own. She is working as Chief Reindeer Correspondent at The Daily Snow but it’s not a very exciting job because reindeers are rubbish at interviews. We are reunited with some more elves from the first book too: the kindly Father Topo and the dastardly Father Vodol. The hilarious Truth Pixie also makes a reappearance.
This time, the story switches between Elfhelm and Victorian London. I really enjoyed how the two plots ran alongside each other, sometimes overlapping and then finally merging together. The London story is that of Amelia Wishart, a nine-year-old girl working as a chimney sweep and living in poverty with her ailing mother. Not long into the story, Amelia’s mother dies and orphaned Amelia ends up in the workhouse. Then her battle to escape begins. I absolutely loved the sinister Victorian world that Matt Haig has conjured up: the workhouse running on child labour and presided over by the ruthless Mr Creeper; and the dirty, dingy streets and gloomy alleyways patrolled by corrupt Officer Pry. We see another side of London too as Charles Dickens and Queen Victoria also feature.
Back in Elfhelm an unexpected troll attack causes chaos in the toy workshops and leads to Christmas being cancelled. Months pass and the elves are no closer to knowing the motive for the attack. Father Bottom, The Daily Snow’s Troll Correspondent, has developed trollophobia and is unable to investigate. Finally, it’s Noosh’s chance. She accepts a promotion to Troll Correspondent and ventures into perilous troll country.
Again, Chris Mould’s black and white line drawings are fabulous and really help to bring the characters and settings to life.
Something else that I really like about this series is how Matt explains the origins of the magic associated with Father Christmas. In The Girl Who Saved Christmas we learn how the sleigh flies and how it’s possible for one man and his reindeer to visit all the children on Earth in a single night (it’s all to do with the barometer of hope and time standing still). We also learn the story of Mother Christmas and how she and Father Christmas met.
There’s a lot of humour in the book but I also found certain parts very moving and sad. There’s wisdom to live by and much is made of the power of hope. Matt Haig has also given us two fantastic fearless female leads. The Girl Who Saved Christmas is an optimistic, uplifting book that I definitely recommend.
Click on the link to read my review of the first book in the series, A Boy Called Christmas.
Suitable for children aged 8+
I borrowed this book from Solihull Libraries.