(Full disclosure: I received a free digital copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. Specific book links in this article are Bookshop.org affiliate links.)
If you’re even slightly overlapping with the book community on Instagram, you’ve likely seen a ton of people picking up Mary Kay Andrews’ The Santa Suit.
The book is billed as a Hallmark Christmas movie readalike, with a recently divorced woman and her suspiciously well behaved dog moving into an old farmhouse, sight unseen. The previous owner left behind basically everything, including a beautifully decorated Santa suit. For some reason, Ivy feels drawn to seek out the young girl who wrote the letter she finds tucked in the suit’s pocket, which is one of the primary drivers of the plot.
As a fan of Hallmark movies around Christmas time, the comp definitely pulled me in. Except I think this one maybe fits the brief a bit too well.
Movies exist in a finite chunk of time by definition. Hallmark especially sticks to a pretty quick clip of around an hour and a half. That means things sometimes happen pretty quickly, and one suspends their disbelief because Christmas magic is mysterious, and we all knew what we signed up for.
I quickly realized I personally bring steeper expectations into my reading experiences than my viewing ones. The Santa Suit is quite short and, in my opinion, suffers for it.
Our love interest appears in the first few pages and seems instantly fixated on doing nice things for our heroine (not to mention kind of forcing Christmas upon her in the form of a massive tree she didn’t ask for).
The Santa suit appears equally quickly, as does the requisite quirky best friend who thinks she needs to lose 10 pounds, and the sad lonely old guy that the protagonist befriends to prove how tender hearted she is. Oh, and the down on her luck candy store owner who’s going to have to close shop because she just can’t get enough people to buy her secretly phenomenal candy.
This would all be fine if we ever got to know any of these characters any better, but… because the book has so much plot to do in so few pages, they’re all a bit flat and stay in their stereotypical lanes. I didn’t even feel like I knew Ivy, the main character, much better at the book’s end and I sometimes struggled to understand her motivations.
There are a lot of moving pieces, plot wise, and a lot of characters for such a quick read. So, it makes sense that character development fell to the wayside. It just made it hard for me to care what happened to any of them or invest in their stories.
I will say I did enjoy the twist towards the end, which I wasn’t expecting in spite of how formulaic much of the book felt.
In the end, though, this book didn’t translate those Hallmark movie vibes onto the page for me. I need a bit more time to care about and invest in the relationships I was supposed to root for, and it just wasn’t there.
If you enjoy a quick read and don’t mind a more plot driven book that moves quickly through to the merrily ever after, I’d definitely suggest this one for you! There’s also small town, learning to love again vibes along with the magic of Christmas element, so if that’s your jam, go forth and read!
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2 thoughts on “The Santa Suit is a Brief Visit with Christmas Magic”
I loved this book and really enjoyed your review of it Amanda! This is likely my favourite of the author’s holiday books. Thanks for sharing your great review of this book.
Thanks so much, Jodie! I’m glad you enjoyed the book 🙂