Disclaimer: Just a few facts you should know before you read my review of this book. First, I know the author, Maria DeVivo–she had my daughter in class (she is Madison’s favorite teach of all time) and, a couple of years ago I spoke to Maria’s class as part of “The Great American Teach-In.” Next, I did not receive a free review copy of this book–in fact, I purchased both the Kindle version and the print version with my own money and the author did not ask me to review this book. Lastly, despite knowing the author, I believe this review is completely objective.

The teenage protagonist of Maria DeVivo’s debut novel, The Coal Elf, published by Twilight Times Books, November 2012, got screwed by “the Boss” of the North Pole. Imagine having your wonderful life and future destroyed when, instead of receiving the job assignment to make toys or bake cookies for a living, you were thrust into a gloomy, underground life of mining coal for the children on the naughty list. Ember Skye stole my heart from the first page as DeVivo describes her life as a Coal Elf and sets up the conflict and her epic battle with the antagonist, Sturd, a despicable, nasty elf who embodies evil.

Throw this conflict, these and a handful of other memorable characters into an incredibly creative North Pole setting, and you have a story that I could not put down. What I particularly enjoyed was DeVivo’s portrayal and extension of Christmas with her creation of a detailed fantasy world where we learn how the North Pole might actually work. This awesome setting is expertly woven into the story so that I was transported into this amazing world as I read.

Do yourself a favor and read The Coal Elf–I highly recommend it. This is one of those books that should be made into a movie (Tim Burton are you listening?). Great characters, engaging plot, believable dialog, wonderful setting and, above all, writing that compelled me to keep turning the pages (that’s what we all really want as readers, right?).

About the author: Maria DeVivo is a New York native who has had a lifelong love affair with “the pen” and a passion for all things mystical and mythological. She now lives in Florida with her husband, Joe, and daughter, Morgan, where she teaches 7th grade English and cries whenever Santa appears at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.