Matchless: A Christmas Story

7.5 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Art: 7/10

Short holiday read

Not very much development

Book Info

Book Name:  Matchless:  A Christmas Story

Publisher:  HarperCollins

Writer:  Gregory Maguire

Artist:  Gregory Maguire

Release Date:  2009


Gregory Maguire

A boy named Frederik finds it to be Christmas Eve and struggling with his mother to survive in the seaside town. As he heads out to find more items for the town of little spool people he has created, he finds a shoe to use as a cradle. The shoe however belongs to a little girl, lost on the streets, trying to sell matches so she can go home. As their worlds collide, the results are tragic and uplifting.

Written and illustrated by Gregory Maguire, Matchless: A Christmas Story is a story springing from Hans Christian Andersen’s 1846 story “The Little Match Girl”. It was part of National Public Radio’s yearly Christmas story.

The NPR story was read by Gregory Maguire on December 25, 2008 on “All Things Considered” but published the next year as a short novella. Maguire has made a career out of expanding upon characters in famous or classic novels. His book Wicked tells the story of the Wicked Witch of the West and Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister tells the story of Cinderella’s sister.


The original is twisted, much like many Hans Christian Anderson tales

Here, the story is based on a strange throw-away line in the story which says, “One slipper was nowhere to be found; the other had been laid hold of by an urchin, and off he ran with it; he thought it would do capitally for a cradle when he some day or other should have children himself.” It is a strange line, and the reasons behind the actions of the “urchin” aren’t explained. Here, Frederik is the urchin, and the reason why he wanted the shoe is revealed.

The story does a quick relay of the match girl’s story which has her seeing a beautiful world she’s with her mother she’s lost with each strike of the matches. In the Hans Christian Anderson story, the story ends with the body of the match girl found frozen to death clutching burned matches; here, Maguire talks about the next day and the year that follows.  In the tale the parents are “matched” through loss and tragedy, and Frederik finds the family he’s long for. When Frederik’s life is endangered, he finds himself guided by a similar ghost like light…which could be the match girl helping Frederik.

Matchless: A Christmas Story is a very short read and a rather simple story. I like aspects of the story and the idea of loss and how it can lead to love, but I feel the ending segment with the danger to Frederik doesn’t seem developed enough. If you are a fan of Maguire’s work or if you want a quick, holiday read, you might check it out.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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