I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.Fourteen-year-old Maggie Ogden thinks she knows everything there is to Grandfather Clement Clarke Moore and his legendary poem,’Twas the Night Before Christmas. But all this changes Christmas Eve 1854 when Chelsea Manor receives an unexpected visitor - Henry Livingston; who’s searching for evidence to prove that his grandfather, Major Henry, is the true author of the famous holiday poem.The night takes a strange turn when Maggie and Henry come across another intruder in Chelsea Manor. After following the peculiar boy down a secret opening within the fireplace and through an underground tunnel full of mechanical sleighs, Maggie and Henry discover Poppel, a hidden village under New York City.Faced with the deadly challenges presented by the legend of The Three Sisters, Maggie and Henry are forced to play by Poppel’s rules and those who run the cursed village. And they quickly learn that not only is leaving Poppel harder than arriving, but there are even more dangerous lies and mysterious truths to Clement Clarke Moore, Christmas, and a menacing creature called Krampus than anyone could have known.
This book, from the description, had a lot of potential. It reminded me of other books where the characters venture to other worlds beneath or behind our own, like Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere or China Mieville's Un Lun Dun. However, after reading the book, I found that I had been lured in with the pretense and I found myself confronted with a book that just didn't live up to its promise.
I was particularly put off by the first 20% of the book. It was an introduction to Maggie's family, which would not have been so bad had the narrative not gone on and on. There was so little information actually imparted to the reader, but the word count must have been over the top because the whole portion could have been cut down by at least half.
The research that went into this novel was obviously great and I commend the author for that. Not a lot of American readers will have heard of Krampus or, at the very least, know about his origins. It was interesting to read a story that brought that into play.
I'm not sure that I could recommend this book for anyone in particular, but I'm sure that there are some people that don't mind the extraneous detail in the beginning and could get past it to the legend in the later part of the story.
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