Review – The Coal Elf

As I write tales exclusively about elves, I was searching around and had stumbled upon a book called The Coal Elf and just had to get it. As you can see by the cover’s illustration, one may think this is a classic take on The Lord of the Rings/ Elder Scrolls-variety of lanky, lean beauty. Majestic beings who stand a good foot taller than humanity.

I was wrong.  Let me explain.


Collapse! The lungs malfunction!

After a few swipes of the Kindle, I realized that I was reading about SANTA’s elves! I can’t believe how I didn’t put two and two together (bad kids get coal = coal elf).

This story focuses on wee Ember Skye. The elfmaid is from an upper-middle class, soft-skill family from the North Pole.  The Skyes do honeyed work such as songwriting, fashion design, graphic design – stuff you’d expect to see guys named Bertram doing on Michigan Avenue. From birth to age ten, this is the only life Ember knows and it’s sweet.

Upon her tenth birthday, all elves are put into an apprenticeship for their Lifejob. As the moniker indicates, you are chosen to do this job forever.

Maybe it was a clerical error, maybe it was dumb luck, but Ember is assigned to the Mines to dig coal for naughty kids until the day she drops dead. Being from softer gentry, no one in the Skye family can figure out why she was chosen for such work, but once your number is drawn, there’s no going back; debate is verboten. Ember is to stay in these mines and never see daylight again. The only notion of day or night is the rush of bats leaving the caves for the evening.

As expected, this book does have hot cocoa, candy canes and lollipops, but the elven society is a sugar-coated hell and author Maria DeVivo pulls no punches. These beings live under Santa Claus’s jackboot.

By the time Ember is sixteen, she has been dredging the Mines for six years and has begun coughing blood and lung-bugs. One day, Santa allows her to enjoy a forty-eight hour weekend pass to revisit her old life. From here, things get worse.

Central themes to this novel involve the examination of the nature of systems and their architecture of checks and balances. Tyranny is also examined, but this book questions why a society runs the way that it must, despite the heavy hand.

Solipsism is reviewed here as well. What is reality? Who is running the show and is it all a lie? Through the mechanics of negative reinforcement and conditioning of behavior, here, systemic flow is maintained.

This story is not a plea for egalitarian sunshine, like so many fantasy/sci-fi novels, but a consideration of what happens when you get what you wish for.

Five stars.


One Response to “Review – The Coal Elf”

  1. […] I’ve reviewed it on this blog before and I’d recommend every one of you Manaballers to buy and read it. You can read my five-star review of it […]

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