“The Christmas Spirits” by Whitley Strieber

Published by Hodder & Stoughton – Reviewed by Malvina Yock.

The front cover announces this is: ‘Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol retold for modern times’. And so it was, from the dead Marley (now called Bill), to the three spirits (past, present and future), dying Tiny Tim (little Charlie), and Scrooge’s (commodities man George’s) change of heart. It’s written by Whitley Strieber, a popular American author known for his horror stories, among other things, and who inspired the dramatic blockbuster film The Day After Tomorrow. No doubt about it, the book is well written. It’s quite short, only 200 pages, but fairly grim. George is presented with a very black, unfeeling heart, a man who’s only searching after more money – millions and millions more – but is a complete miser with absolutely no enjoyment in life, and zero empathy for the people around him. The spirits come across as extremely dark, dire and ominous, reworked with the pen of the horror writer. Obviously, George learns his lesson the hard way and there is the happier ending. He was so black-hearted I did wonder if he was going to see the error of his ways, but the ending was true to A Christmas Carol. The story was competently done, but – quite frankly – I enjoyed the original tale better. Why tamper with the master? Still, it’s good to know Dickens continually inspires writers to revisit A Christmas Carol in order to provide yet another adaptation. Hopefully The Christmas Spirits will encourage modern readers to seek out the original story, which I consider has well and truly stood the test of time.

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