Gypsy Madden (timelady) wrote,
Gypsy Madden

Book Review: Hauntings and Humbug: A Steampunk Christmas Carol

Hauntings and Humbug: A Steampunk Christmas Carol by Melanie Karsak

4 stars
Category: Adult
Note: Novella-length. I read this as included in the Wicked Winters anthology

Summary: This is a gender-flipped version of The Christmas Carol. Mrs. Ebony Scrooge slaves away in her mechanic shop even on Christmas Eve itself to get an important job done. She is visited by her deceased former partner Jaqueline Marley telling her that she needs to mend her miserly ways or it will be too late, and that she will be visited by three spirits before the night is through.

Comments: This was a fascinating take on The Christmas Carol that has had so many versions done I’ve quite lost count. This does make the point that we reflect differently on the characters given what sex they are. Ebony is more tempered this time, with her harshness stemming from personal pain (masterfully written scenes), rather than the original Scrooge’s general feeling of not being loved (causing this reader to have more empathy for her than the original Ebenezer). It was also interesting seeing which characters the author chose to render as female and which she kept male considering there really weren’t any female characters in the original tale except for Bob Cratchit’s wife and daughter. As in, if all the main players are female this time around, why have Tiny Tim remain male? And the men collecting for the poor also remained men this time around. And Ebenezer’s sister remained female this time around (would there not have been as much sympathy if it had been a brother instead?) The ghosts also retain their original sexes. The Steampunk details felt more like scene dressing than plot points (as seems to be the problem with a lot of the Steampunk labeled stories on the indie market). I did like that the scenes from the past were different this time, showing us what she had lost adding a lot more depth and character background history, though the scenes from the present and the future were as to be expected. I personally would have liked more originality rather than borrowing quite so much from the classic. I would have liked actually being able to guess about some of the events rather than have all of the outcomes as expected.

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