Review: The Twelve Days of Christmas by Maureen Turner

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The 12 Days of Christmas is a collection of short stories loosely based on the Christmas carol of the same name. I say loosely because the titles of each story are about the only thing Christmassy about them. From ‘A Partridge in a Pear Tree’, about Emma Partridge and her desire to protect a pear tree all the way to ‘Twelve Drummers Drumming’, the story of 12 small tin soldiers, these stories swap genre, setting, and characters but never once lands on Christmas. I can’t lie, I was intrigued by this premise of non-Christmassy Christmas stories and drawn by the fantastic cover but often it’s the case  that the contents of the book doesn’t stand up to my excitement. Did that happen with this book? Well that’s an easy answer: no, it absolutely did not happen with this book.

In fact, it was quite the opposite. This collection of light, quick reads is both ingenious and original. I was continually impressed by Turner’s ability to create stories with such a strong link to each of the titles whilst managing to stay entirely away from the Christmas theme and what’s more, the tales demonstrate her ability to write (and write well, for that matter) in a number of different genres. She is clearly a talented writer, and these stories are perfect for a quick read in the bath or a little destress before bed time. They require no investment for the reader (perfect for me at the moment!) and yet manage to create enough emotion to keep you going, and the fact that the stories are of varying lengths and depths means that you can pick and choose what is right for you right now.

It’s difficult to pick which story was my favourite. I loved the characters in ‘A Partridge in a Pear Tree’, the romance of ‘Two Turtle Doves’ was a bit cheesy for my liking but the ghostly aspect was handled brilliantly, the characters in ‘Eleven Pipers Piping’ were so real to me, and ‘Five Gold Rings’ was brilliant. My favourites though, have to be: ‘Ten Lords A-Leaping’, with its supernatural element and somewhat tragic theme, and the spooky ‘Twelve Drummers Drumming’. Admittedly, not all the stories were to my liking but in an odd way, that made me like the book even more – it shows Tuner’s versatility, and shows that this little book has something to offer everyone.

It did have one major issue though. The book, as a whole, needed a really good proofread! The stories are littered with typos and misprints that sometimes pull you out of the story – the same goes for the odd formatting quirks, with the typeset suddenly shrinking mid-story and paragraph indents that are at all different levels. It’s not one or two errors that are easy to miss but they appear regularly throughout the book and it’s such a shame because it gives the book the appearance (and feel) of being unpolished. Sorting out these issues would raise this book from a good collection of short stories to a fantastic book that I would find myself telling the world about. It’s a shame, too, because it could potentially put readers off reading future books by Turner. Still, if a few odd typos and strange formats is all I’ve got to complain about, it’s pretty conclusive that this is a great book.

From ghost stories to love stories, from modern day tales to historical fiction, from a single partridge to twelve drummers, this book has a story for everyone and as long as you can overlook the editing and formatting errors, I can’t recommend this non-Christmassy Christmas book any more.

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