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Book Review: Elf Road by Jacqui Hazell

My dear bookish friends!

With Christmas around the corner, did you get the chance to pick up some festive reads yet? How about this magically festive encounter with Santa in Elf Road by Jacqui Hazell? Stay tuned to find out what it is about, and to find out about my thoughts!

About the Book

Meet the crazy elves at 123 Elf Road – the perfect stocking filler for all the family!

Santa needs your Christmas list. Quick, get writing! Letters to Santa are important. But, hold on, make sure your letter’s good because you should only write once a year.
Santa’s a busy man and his elves are even busier. But what if your mum is ill and you’ve been sent hundreds of miles away to stay with a snooty relative you don’t even know? Santa won’t know where you are!
Tizzy Biff and her brother Wilf are worried. She writes a second letter and at a fancy London store, they sneak into the grotto hoping to talk to Santa. But security is onto them and when they make their escape they find themselves in the
Arctic on the icy Elf Road.
Surrounded by ice, Santa’s sparkling grotto is incredible but the elves aren’t happy and it’s Tizzy’s fault. Can she explain or will Christmas be cancelled for everyone?
From Cornwall to London and onwards to the Arctic, join Tizzy and Wilf on their epic fun-filled adventure to Santa’s real grotto at
123 Elf Road, North Pole.

A funny and heart-warming new novel from award-winning author Jacqui Hazell. Perfect for fans of Matt Haig, Ben Miller, and the Christmasaurus.

My Review

Tizzy and Wilf are sad. They have to leave their nice and cosy Cornish cottage, and also their mum and dad and three cats, behind to spend Christmas with their grandmother in London. They have never seen her before, and is she even nice? With Christmas fast approaching, one of their biggest worries is that Santa won’t find them there, should they not be back home in time. But then they learn that their mum is ill and that’s why they have to go away for a bit, and their priorities change.

After an eventful train ride to London, they meet their grandmother for the first time. Only she doesn’t want to be – under no circumstances at all! – called grandma, gran, granny, nan, or any other name apart from Gloriana. She insists they call her by her first name! And she doesn’t even seem to like them at all! How horrible. Tizzy and Wilf wish they could be back home with their mum and dad. Will Santa Claus be able to help them in time for a family Christmas?

First of all, I really liked that there is no super complicated plot behind this story. It’s simple enough – the children have to leave just before Christmas because their parent is unwell. However, behind the simplicity there is a complex network of adventures that keep you invested the entire time! I couldn’t wait to find out what happens next, and since the book is super short as well I was through it in no time (I think that makes it an excellent read especially for younger children too!).

The characters are all very intriguing in their own way. I liked Tizzy and Wilf, how well they got along with each other, their unique names and family-oriented personalities. The fact that they were so worried about having written to Santa twice (even though it was for a good cause), and the fact that they supported and protected each other showed how much more mature they were compared to some adults in the story. I also loved their parents, and how they took their childrens’ concerns seriously and still treated them like children. Gloriana and her friends are a different matter. I liked that the other family and their super spoiled little girl – despite clearly being snobbish and arrogant – didn’t treat Wilf and Tizzy badly (contrary to what I expected), and even encouraged them to write to Santa again (her own understanding of helping, I guess). But not all characters in this book are super friendly and nice, which makes for a nice change.

The adventures WIlf and Tizzy go on are super captivating. A secret magical underground world that connects all the toy shops in the world, how cool is that idea?! And then, the two siblings even get to meet Santa at the North Pole, but at the same time he is in a very different, very cool location that I’m not going to spoiler here. I really loved this new take on Santa’s home! The elves are like I imagined them, busy, easy to excite, but also easier to annoy than I had expected, haha! They even wanted to put their work down, and would have become of Christmas then?!

In the end, Tizzy and WIlf return home (in the most magical way possible!), and they have been through such a big adventure! At home, their mum and dad, all the neighbours and even the local toyshop owner have been searching for them, but at the North Pole, the two siblings have experienced the real adventure of a lifetime. They even had to sign confidentiality agreements (cause all things Santa are top secret, obviously)!

I was originally really attracted by the cover. I love the Northern Lights and together with the elves they portrayed something really magical, so I wasn’t sure if I should mention this or not because it’s not part of the story per se but it IS in the book I suppose, so I will briefly. Now, art is different for everybody, what I consider art others might not like, but I have to say I didn’t love some of the drawings in the book, especially in the later chapters, as much as I would have liked. This isn’t a picture book so I feel like it doesn’t need the drawings, but since we did get some I would have preferred more nicely rounded, perhaps a bit more polished ones, some with a little more attention to detail maybe, though there were also some really nice ones among them. Or maybe printed in colour they would have caught my eye more?

This was just a side remark though and did not impact the story overall. I really liked this festive children’s story, I think it would make the perfect Christmassy read for really young and also older readers. It is rather short and you can get through it really fast. I liked the unique ideas based on Santa, his Christmas workshop, the toy stores, and I also really liked how the magical was intertwined with real-life problems like Tizzy and Wilf’s mum being sick and how their grandmother didn’t want to be a caring grandmother at all. Even though there was a bit of a family reunion in the end it still wasn’t overdone and she didn’t magically change her personality, and while that didn’t really give us that ‘everything is perfect now’-happy ending I would have expected, it did give us a more realistic one, which I found refreshing.

A fast-paced, unique Christmas adventure for readers of all ages, I recommend this book to those who like festive reads with new spins on Santa and the North Pole.

4 stars from me!

Thank you all so much for reading!


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