I’m rather shockingly reviewing out of order today, because I wanted to share with you this EXCELLENT book in time for you to buy it for yourself or someone else for Christmas (it’s available in paperback and ebook). Yes, it’s that good. And although I’m a loyal Paul Magrs fan, and should therefore have high expectations of his work, this exceeded my expectations by quite a way. I was expecting there to be more stuff I’d read before (I’d read just two of the fourteen stories before, one of which was published as a lovely standalone book last year) and didn’t realise it was going to be such a lovely substantial volume – 425 pages of excellent stories! This is the last read in my Magrsathon, in which I have enjoyed reading and re-reading books by Paul Magrs every month.

Paul Magrs – “Christmassy Tales”

(14 November 2020)

I couldn’t resist a) buying myself this new book and b) dipping into it when it arrived, and devoured “Fester and the Christmas Mouse” – I was never able to read Paul’s story of his late and beloved stray cat, as I can never read any pet-centred books, but I was glad to read this delightful tale of a Christmas day, a careful cat and a tiny lost mouse.

I then forced myself to read just one or two stories a day this month, as they all revolved around Christmas. Yes, looking at the contents page, there is a Christmas Trilobite and a Christmas Hoover, and this sums up the delicious mix of working-class down-to-earth observation and delightful whimsy which is Paul’s trademark and very much in evidence here.

The collection opens with “Stardust and Snow”, a reprint of Paul’s beautiful story about a boy who wins a competition to meet David Bowie. I originally read this on Christmas Day last year (my review here) and it was just as magical and still brought a tear to my eye. Other stand-out stories (although there wasn’t a dud among them), which ran from sci fi to fairy tales to sci fi fairy tales set on disappointed planets to observation and memories of a north-eastern working-class childhood to a writer visited by a ghost of Christmas Past at his desk, included “Party Like it’s 1979” with its warm memories and tiny details (anyone else remember purple, smudged, banda’d sheets from school?). “The Fabulous Animal Jamboree”, like the children’s book where all the dogs come out of the pictures in the National Gallery, features museum animals from around the world gathering for fun, and a celebration of difference and being your authentic self, and “The Christmas Trilobite” is a wonderful spin through alternative stories and endings as the ancient creature visits Paul the adult writer to demand his own Christmas story.

We finish off with a brand-new Brenda and Effie story (with Robert, hooray!) where they meet Iris Wildthyme (had they met before? I think not. I’ve never quite understood Iris but she has turned up in a couple of my reads this year and I just absorb the fun and weirdness) and … well, you’ll have to read it to find out.

A super collection and one I know I’ll dig out for Christmasses in the future to enjoy again. What a lovely end to my twelve months of Paul Magrs reading!

You can find Paul online at Life on Magrs and he also has a Patreon for exclusive new content.