Ben’s girlfriend, Marly, is dead. The thought of spending Valentine’s Day without her, fills him with bitterness. Why should anyone bother with love when it ends so soon? Then he is visited by her ghost who tells him to expect to be visited by spirits, the spirits of love past, present and future.
It’s A Christmas Carol retelling that has nothing to do with Christmas. The idea had potential but was maybe let down by the melding of modern day teen life with the original prose. The story is a mix of new, some paraphrased and some completely lifted out of the original. Maybe it was more noticeable to me as I had recently read A Christmas Carol. Some of it works, some of it seems forced.
I’m not sure how Ben’s anti-love grumpiness is meant to break up Tiny and Tim, a gay couple this time rather than a sickly child. Ben just happens to have gone to school with them and been a bit of a nob to their faces. But if they were actually in love, surely that would make no difference to them in the long term?
What’s Valentine’s Day about except the desperate search to find someone to spend Valentine’s Day with? It just shows that love has become a marketing campaign, like everything else.
I know Christmas has become quite commercial but Valentine’s Day has even more of a please-spend-money vibe about it. It’s something lots of people don’t celebrate. Some of the things Ben was supposedly missing out on seemed a bit materialistic. I didn’t see a problem with him not liking the day, which differs to Scrooge making everyone’s life miserable at Christmas which is a holiday.
You expect death to bring some new form of punctuation, but there it is; one small gasp. Period.
There are some little gems and wonderful snippets amongst the story. Some of it focuses on Ben’s grief, still raw. Imagine having Valentine’s Day shoved in your face when the girl you love is dead? He’s bound with chains to Marly’s memory and the idea of letting her go is a better one than some fabricated message of Valentine’s Day. I loved that Marley found out he was also the saint of beekeeping. Now that’s what I’ll be celebrating every February 14th.
Marly’s Ghost is published by Electric Monkey and is available now in paperback and ebook editions. Thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy for review via NetGalley.
Shelve next to: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book free of charge for review purposes only. Receipt of a book does not guarantee a review or endorsement. My reviews are my honest opinion and are not biased for the purpose of personal gain.
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