If you’ve read my previous reviews of anything by Janice Hallett, you’ll know that I’m a huge fan of both her writing but also the way she writes her books. As opposed to a conventional chapter book, Hallett has written some fantastic books that use modern forms of media. You’ll find yourself reading text messages, emails, posters and transcribed audio files to tell the story. The Christmas Appeal is Hallett’s latest in this form. It’s a Christmas special and it’s the shortest yet.
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The Christmas Appeal takes us back to the same world that Hallett’s first novel, The Appeal was in with the Fairway Players being our main group of characters once again. The team are putting on a Christmas performance but when a body turns up during a performance, things take a slightly different turn than they were hoping. But who’s the culprit?
The Christmas Appeal plot – 4/5
Sarah-Jane, the new natural head of the Fairway Players, is organising a Christmas performance with the rest of the drama club. It’s not as complex a plot as the other books by Hallett as it’s also far shorter too. This did make me feel like the plot then suffers a little bit too as it doesn’t manage to fit in quite as much depth.
Unlike The Appeal you’re not going to get some twisting plot here with a shock twist at the end. It does feel like a far more simple plot from Hallett which looks more to appeal to those who are wanting to get into the Christmas spirit with some characters they’ve read before.
There’s a lot of humour in this book, as there was with the previous The Appeal. At times it is intentional humour from the characters themselves but other times it’s the way that Hallett chooses to have the characters respond. Either way, there quite a few times when I found myself laughing out loud.
The Christmas Appeal characters – 4.75/5
As with all of Hallett’s characters, because of the way she writes these books, they’re oozing with personality. It”s easy enough to give characters personality by having them write their own messages but you have to remember that this is one author writing a variety of different people’s messages. When you consider that, it’s incredibly impressive that you can draw very distinct personality traits from each of these characters.
You have personalities of people who end up disliking because they’re always a little bit rude and you’ve got the sweet and kind characters who you can’t help but love. It’s a fantastic talent and one that either comes naturally to Hallett or one that she takes time to get right and really does so!
I loved all of the main players (pun intended) in this book and even some of the supporting cast who each had their own personalities despite not being a crucial element to the story.
The Christmas Appeal final rating – 4.25/5
The Christmas Appeal isn’t the best of Hallett’s books but it’s another fantastic read with some truly loveable characters during a festive time of year. If you read The Appeal, you’ll find a comfort in reading about the Fairway Players again. It’s not quite as sweeping and complex due to its length and there isn’t some clever twist like in The Appeal but The Christmas Appeal is another success from Hallett with a great cast of characters, a fun murder mystery and her now well-established technique of writing that I find wholly captivating.