Jack and Sally are “truly meant to be” … or are they? Sally Skellington is the official, newly-minted Pumpkin Queen after a whirlwind courtship with her true love, Jack, who Sally adores with every inch of her fabric seams — if only she could say the same for her new role as Queen of Halloween Town. Cast into the spotlight and tasked with all sorts of queenly duties, Sally can’t help but wonder if all she’s done is trade her captivity under Dr. FInkelstein for a different — albeit gilded — cage. But when Sally and Zero accidentally uncover a long-hidden doorway to an ancient realm called Dream Town in the forest Hinterlands, she’ll unknowingly set into motion a chain of sinister events that put her future as Pumpkin Queen, and the future of Halloween Town itself, into jeopardy. Can Sally discover what it means to be true to herself and save the town she’s learned to call home, or will her future turn into her worst… well, nightmare?
Amazon Link: Long Live the Pumpkin Queen
Author: Shea Ernshaw
Genre: YA Dark Fantasy
Rating: 4/5 stars
I was really excited to read this book because it promised to be a continuation of The Nightmare Before Christmas story. I’ve loved this movie since it first came out and enjoy how much it’s become popular since then. And of course, I’ve always wanted a glimpse into the other holiday lands promised by the trees shown at the beginning of the movie. Now I finally got to see more of the world beyond Halloween Town and Christmas Town!
Overall, this story felt like it was in keeping with the spirit of the original. The citizens of Halloween Town have their own morality and way of looking at the world which colors their interpretations of anything new they encounter. Here, this leads to some conflict because they have a narrow vision of what a Pumpkin Queen should look and act like. Although Jack enjoys a lot of freedom in his role as the king, Sally has a harder time fitting in and living up to their expectations. She has to figure out what kind of Queen she wants to be.
And it was great that Sally got her own story where she could use her strengths to be a hero and save the day. The story didn’t try to change who Sally was fundamentally but rather gave her the chance to grow incrementally in her confidence.
What ended up feeling weird to me was the ending. First of all, Sally has a long moment where she realizes what she wants to be as a queen not from any experiences or insights of her own. Instead, she sees the Queen of England, draws some rather big conclusions about her style as a ruler, and I guess that gives her an epiphany. But the Queen of England is a controversial figure and she’s a human, so I don’t think she would make a good role model for Sally. That scene just felt like it was shoehorned in to make some kind of statement that didn’t fit with the rest of the book.
Secondly, Dr. Finkelstein’s treatment of Sally is shown to be even worse than what we knew from the movie. However, when his crimes are exposed, he faces very lenient consequences for his terrible actions. Jack doesn’t seem like the kind of king to just give someone community service as punishment. All the citizens of Halloween Town seem far more bloodthirsty and casually discuss murder. Jack Skellington didn’t hesitate to kill Oogie Boogie in the movie after he had kidnapped Sandy Claws. Why wouldn’t he do the same to someone who had caused his own wife to suffer so much?
But it was an entertaining read and it left the possibilities open to explore even more of this world in the future. It would be cool to have more stories in this setting. If you’re a fan of The Nightmare Before Christmas, then I recommend this book.