Book Review: The Afterlife of Holly Chase

Title: The Afterlife of Holly Chase
Author: Cynthia Hand
Date Published: October 24, 2017
Rating: 4/5 stars
Date read: December 31, 2020 (reread)

The Afterlife of Holly Chase is a very loose retelling of A Christmas Carol. In the beginning of our story we see a young woman named Holly Chase go on the same journey as Ebenezer Scrooge, but instead of achieving moral enlightenment she views the whole setup as a scam, and proceeds to die the next day. Fast forward five years, Holly is an employee for the company that tried to save her, Project Scrooge, working as the ghost of Christmas past. Their assignment this year is a 17-year-old young man named Ethan Winters, who Holly takes more interest in than she should. 

Every now and then I just want something fluffy but heartfelt, with shallow, unconventional characters and The Afterlife of Holly Chase really hits the spot. This is a character type I think Hand writes particularly well (I’m also thinking of The How and the Why) because she somehow manages to also make these character types charming in their own way. Holly Chase in particular is judgemental, shallow, and self-centred, but with so much room for character growth. And I do think the primary focus of this novel is her development, and how the new relationships she forms over the course of the novel offer her perspective into her past relationships, which in turn shifts her priorities in more meaningful directions. To speak firstly of the romance, Holly and Ethan were easy to root for, and brought out unexpected sides in each other. They had great chemistry and I found myself hoping they could make their relationship work. But what left the most lasting impression on me was Holly’s relationships with her ex-best friend and her father respectively. Holly’s sentiments towards both these relationships as the novel progressed felt very heartfelt and had me tearing up at times. That said, I think what really sets The Afterlife of Holly Chase apart from most other contemporaries (unique premise aside) is the ending, I really respect Hand for where she took the story in its last moments and because of that it’s a story that I can foresee myself rereading again and again. 

Note: I have read the original source material, but to be honest I don’t remember it that well, so I don’t think reading the original is necessary to enjoy The Afterlife of Holly Chase, though I do imagine it heightens the experience a bit. Also, I listened to the audiobook for both my reads of this story and I highly recommend it, I think Erin Spencer’s voice fits Holly really well.

Have you read The Afterlife of Holly Chase? If not, do you plan to? I’d love to hear your thoughts! Happy reading! 💗


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