I finally got around to reading Matt Haig’s The Midnight Library (Viking 2020). Y’all didn’t tell me it was A Christmas Carol on repeat – just heavy on the suicide and not so much on the Christmas. If Hallmark movies allowed references to suicide, Lacey Chabert would be playing Nora; she already has experience with the theme from the 2015 Hallmark movie, “Family for Christmas.” That’s not dig – I thoroughly enjoy Hallmark movies – I just didn’t expect this novel to read so much like one – albeit one that Lemony Snicket wrote.
As far as the plot goes, you’d have to be actively avoiding it to not have any inkling of it because it was everywhere when the book was first published. The novel is about a woman who attempts to take her life and finds herself in the “midnight library” – the place between life and death where she’s given the ability to see what her life would be had she zigged instead of zagged. Nora tries on numerous lives for size. Some are worse than the life she sought to end, and some are better. Much like Goldilocks, she’s trying to find the one that’s just right.
The writing is witty, and the humor is dark but sweetly nuanced. I think not having a cat in each life was a misstep. It was the perfect opportunity for a familiar, and Volts was the perfect vessel for that. With Nora’s first selection, I did think Volts would be reoccurring and was very excited for how that would play out. I’m still a touch disappointed.
It’s a charming, quick story that reads as familiar because of Dickens. The canon (and years of Christmas movies) well prepared us for the ending, but Haig’s voice gives the tale a bit more life. While I think it’s overhyped and triggering, I do think it’s worth the read.
Read this book.