Matchless is a retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s tale “The Little Match Girl”. If you’re familiar with the original non-Disneyfied versions of some of his stories, you’re aware that they don’t always have a particularly happy ending, unless you’re really, really into morality tales.
In this story, which Gregory Maguire originally wrote to read aloud on NPR’s Christmas edition of All Things Considered, the author actually manages to give the story a happier ending, without removing the core tale. He does this by adding a character, a little boy named Frederick, who through a series of unlikely connected events, actually managed to gain something from the tragic ending of the match girl. I’m still not sure that makes this tale one I’d read around the fireside with little children, but it’s a lovely little book nonetheless. Definitely an interesting twist on the traditional Christmas tale.
If you’re wondering why I’m reading a Christmas book in February, I actually won this as an October Early Reviewer’s Selection on LibraryThing, but for some reason, the books weren’t shipped until January.