The Unwrapping of Theodora Quirke - Caroline Smailes

Theodora volunteered to do the Christmas shift at work because she is the only team member who doesn't have a family to spend it with. Whilst her night couldn't get any more depressing it could definitely get more interesting and just her luck - it does! A scraggly looking man claiming to be St Nicholas appears on her doorstep and claims he is there to save her, but does Theo need saving?

Thank you to Red Door Press for delivering a wonderful read once again and for letting me be a part of their blog tour for Caroline Smailes new release published 15th October 2020! If you want to check out my fellow readers on the tour please see below:

Theodora is your typical "I do not need saving" main character but Smailes has been able to add a hint of desperation to her that although she doesn't outwardly emit you can read through her expressions and interactions with others. I appreciated the undertones of Theo's character and the snippets of attitude throughout that made her a well-rounded character instead of a two-dimensional one that is common in Christmas novels. There is definitely more to her than originally meets the eye. The same can actually be said of all the main players in this novel, Smailes has created a collection of well-rounded characters that any of which you'd like to have a good natter with (maybe not Krampus).

As the story progresses the reader is led to question the greed of humankind, and whilst this looks like your typical happy festive story it definitely felt deeper than that at these points. Smailes intertwines speculation of how the population would take, take and take without giving in response to St Nick with the plot and I think this gives the perfect mirrored narrative between those who would deserve St Nick's miracles and those who need to reflect on our own greed.

Deep underlying commentary aside the story itself is great. Theo and Nick form a strange friendship, Dottie Smith reveals all during her time with the Spitfire St Nicholas Umbrella Collective which turns sinister and by combining the storylines the novel perfectly caps off a festive read for all. Although I would pre-warn those who dislike swearing, this isn't for the fainthearted!

The book throws you straight into the plot without much build up so the slow reveal of character and backstory was actually refreshing to see compared to the usual slow build stories. Although St Nick reveals the way he is able to travel all over in one night in the same fashion I did want it fleshing out a bit more so that the(spoiler) time-travelling he and Theodora do is explained in more detail - perhaps that is the sci-fi fan in me.

Theodora Quirke hits your emotions in all the right places and is the ideal run-up to Christmas read, plus the cover is an absolute corker - how beautiful!

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