‘The holiday season is a time for storytelling, and whether you are hearing the story of a candelabra staying lit for more than a week, or a baby born in a barn without proper medical supervision, these stories often feature miracles.’
The Lump of Coal, like Lemony Snicket’s other holiday book, The Latke Who Couldn’t Stop Screaming, follows the travails of a Christmas outsider destined for the flames. Unlike the unfortunate latke, the lump of coal embraces his fiery destiny but not before he achieves his ambitions.
‘Like many people who dress in black, the lump of coal was interested in becoming an artist… one day it would get to draw rough black likes on a canvas or, more likely, on a breast of chicken or salmon filet by participating in a barbeque.’
This is Snicket at his most Snickety, full of authorial interjections and witty observations and a cast of oddballs. Along the way the coal meets a snooty gallery owner, a fake Korean restaurateur and a fake Santa (the real one is at the Mall), before ending up in the stocking of another wannabe artist called Jasper.
Happily, Brett Helquist, Snicket’s partner on the Series of Unfortunate Events, is back on illustration duties.
Few people do downcast as well as Helquist and he successfully produces the least smiley piece of Christmas un-cheer since the Little Match Girl.
The Lump of Coal is published by Harper Collins