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Reviewed by Liz Konkel for Readers' Favorite
Matchsticks and Candy Canes by C.E. Wilson and Mary Dublin is a holiday treat filled with acceptance, romance, and baked delights. Carter Holly works at his uncle’s bakery, which his mother feels is unfit for a boy, but the place is where he feels at ease and where he can see the Christmas elf that’s set up across the street selling matches. Brynne Mirren is an elf. Not the toy making kind seen in films, but what humans refer to as “Santa’s Rejects.” They live in slums and sometimes can’t make enough to feed their families. She has to stand out in the cold every day and barely makes a few dollars a week. When Carter finds the courage to talk to her, he not only learns that the lore of elves being witches is wrong, but he finds something special. As they learn to trust each other, they discover that they may not be so different.
This may be a Christmas tale, but the message is perfect for any time of the year. Brynne and Carter are from two different backgrounds with two very different lives. It has the adorable awkwardness of their first meeting and their first date where they’re trying to figure out how to act around each other. It may be romance and holiday spirit on the surface, but at its heart this is a story of humanity. The elves see the humans as monsters. The humans see the elves as witches. When it comes to the root of why this is, it’s because they’re afraid of each other’s differences. The elves are a foot tall and otherworldly. The humans are large and use money. But these ideals don’t stop Brynne and Carter. Matchsticks and Candy Canes isn’t all light and fluffy, there is poverty, abuse, drinking, and harassment, but it has a lighthearted tone and is adorable as Brynne is. C.E. Wilson and Mary Dublin bring a holiday story with magic, charm, and warmth that captures the true meaning of the Christmas spirit.