Father Christmas and Me
by Matt Haig
Canongate

It is a truth that Christmas comes earlier every year, mainly because shops begin selling seasonal nonsense not long after summer ends. And so, even before Halloween, here comes Father Christmas and Me, by bestselling novelist Matt Haig. The third of Haig’s funny (and playfully self-referential) “origin” tales, Father Christmas and Me opens with the same chatty directness as A Boy Called Christmas and The Girl Who Saved Christmas. Our narrator, Amelia Wishart (who also starred in the previous instalment) enjoys engaging us directly. “You might think you know about Father Christmas,” she begins, before correcting our misapprehensions with her own story of swapping London for Elfhelm, home to Santa and his helpers. As in books one and two, Haig combines unapologetic sentiment (a debt to Dickens, perhaps) with unflinching melancholy. Like so many, Wishart finds the season not always jolly: she experiences loneliness, alienation, bullying and discrimination. Haig is helped once more by Chris Mould’s illustrations, which update Quentin Blake’s vibrant style for a new century.