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Liza Martini
The Caroler
Liza Martini, author
In a dark basement one July afternoon, a nutcracker awakes in his excelsior crate and is surprised to see two other figurines, Carol and Glory, staring back at him from the opposite end. He’ll have to get used to much more than shared space before long. When toys and dolls with human likeness are animated by an itinerant Grace Light, their stories become intertwined. The story of bacon and sausages, greed and gluttony, curses and a need for redemption is the backstory of The Nutcracker told throughout. But he has lost all hope of living as anything but this wooden manikin form. It is Carol who gradually draws him out of his hard shell, and makes him aware of the caring heart he once had. Carol is cautious but kind, believing, “No one can help how they are formed, or sketched, or molded. She believed that goodness should be expected and returned.” Glory, a shimmering tree-topping angel, is no stranger to miracles and unusual phenomena. Her arming presence helps bring the story to its “logical conclusion.”
Plot/Idea: 7 out of 10
Originality: 6 out of 10
Prose: 8 out of 10
Character/Execution: 8 out of 10
Overall: 7.25 out of 10


Plot: Martini's book about toys with human likeness coming to life and having complex backstories is strange, interesting, and written in a playful and engaging manner. Her characters have complex personalities; the story is magical and surreal, yet believable. 

Prose: Martini has pleasant prose, especially when describing the setting of the book. She has a talent for putting the reader directly into the scene, no matter how unusual it may be. The characters also have authentic interactions, and their emotions are tangible.

Originality: The storyline of toys coming to life and needing to hide from the humans of the house that they inhabit is a familiar concept. However, Martini has intertwined it with a tale about a man turned into a nutcracker, as well as a new type of magic. The result is a fresh and fun story.

Character/Execution: Martini's characters are all very much their own separate, flawed individuals. This is something that makes the tale especially relatable - the reader will find their problems squabbles, and growth pleasing and intriguing.

Date Submitted: April 05, 2022

Amazon Customer

This Christmas favorite, The Nutcracker, is retold in modern context. I enjoyed it very much and can’t wait to recommend this story to friends and family. Ms. Martini’s prose is very eloquent and clearly paints the scene of this familiar, beautiful, but somewhat bewildering tale. I have always loved this story, being most familiar with the ballet as a Christmas tradition, but have always found some of the story confusing. The author fills in the details in this retelling in a compelling, enlightening and entertaining way.
I love the familiar Christmas carols intertwined throughout the the story. The glossary of words, phrases and songs at the end really refines and enriches the telling. I see this book becoming a favorite Christmas tradition for my family!

The Book Commentary

. . . brilliant retelling of the Nutcracker . . . characters are stunningly imagined . . . infused with magical realism and a unique sense of humanity. In the end, it is an extraordinary work of art and beauty.~The Book Commentary