I’ve only read one Matt Haig book before and that was Notes On A Nervous Planet. Long story short, I didn’t care for it. I understand that a lot of people found it helpful with their mental health but I thought it was just pointless and trite. Not bad necessarily but not as helpful as it believes. So, I wasn’t exactly rushing out to read anything else by the writer. Although, I can’t seem to escape him. I see copies of The Midnight Library all over Instagram. It’s haunting me. As it’s Christmas, I decided to go with one of his festive reads. One of his festive reads that will both cross off a letter on my Reading Challenge and is free on Audible.
Matt Haig’s A Boy Called Christmas attempts to reveal the origin of Father Christmas. Did we really need another book that tells the story of how Santa Claus came to be? Probably not but I don’t think the intended audience is really going to care that this is a little unoriginal. This is basically the story of a young boy who refuses to stop believing in magic. It’s a whimsical festive tale with just enough silliness and darkness to make it engaging for kids.
Nikolas is an 11-year-old boy who lives with his father. The pair don’t have any money but Nikolas is happy enough. Until his father takes a job to find the mythical elf city after the promise of a huge payout. The only problem is that he’ll be gone for months and the only person left to look after Nikolas is his awful Aunt. Nikolas decides that the only thing to do is leave his home and follow his father. So the boy sets out with his only friend, a mouse called Miika. Will Nikolas be able to find Elfhelm and his father?
In terms of the story, A Boy Called Christmas is pretty simple. There’s not a great deal of detail to the plot and the world-building isn’t exactly astounding. I did find myself wanting to see more of the Elf community and learn more about their lives. I also think certain aspects of the plot could have done with a bit more time. I admit that I found my attention drifting in the final part of the story. However, I’m not exactly the target audience for this book.
As a children’s book, I can see how this would be successful. There is plenty of childish humour and silliness. It has hints of Roald Dahl and Neil Gaiman. A Boy Called Santa also has the perfect Christmas message for its young audience. This is a book that celebrates magic, faith and being kind. It’s perhaps one of the more convoluted origin stories of Father Christmas but there is plenty to enjoy here.