restricted access The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand (review)
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Reviewed by
Kate Quealy-Gainer, Assistant Editor
Hand, Cynthia The Afterlife of Holly Chase. HarperTeen/HarperCollins, 2017 [400p]
Trade ed. ISBN 978-0-06-231850-3 $17.99
E-book ed. ISBN 978-0-06-231852-7 $9.99
Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 7-10

Since socialite Holly Chase failed to repent her Scrooge-like attitude even after a visit from the three spirits of Christmas, she sealed her doom; she died within the year and was sentenced to join Project Scrooge to serve as one of the ghosts. After five years of playing the Ghost of Christmas Past Holly is nearly resigned to her fate, but then comes young, healthy, and handsome Ethan, who is Project Scrooge’s next target. Holly knows he’s a good kid turned awful by a tragic accident, a trajectory of events that is painfully familiar to Holly, and she sees in him a kindred spirit. Now she’s breaking the rules and reaching out to Ethan in the mortal world, but whether she’s trying to save his soul or selfishly assuage her loneliness is up for grabs. Holly does a bang-up job of making herself appealingly unlikable; her narration is sarcastic and wry, and even her moments of self-deprecating humor carry a hint of arrogance, striking a darkly funny tone. That Ethan is the catalyst for Holly’s eventual attempts to redeem herself is a bit of tired trope, but the ending packs a twist that keeps in line with the book’s quirky earnestness. Save the coal and hand this to the Christmas spirit doubters. [End Page 118]