October 31, 2022

REVIEW Long Live the Pumpkin Queen by Shea Ernshaw

REVIEW Long Live the Pumpkin Queen 
by Shea Ernshaw
Rating: 3 Stars
Release Date: August 2, 2022
Format: Audiobook (Borrowed from Library)
Publisher: Disney Press

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Shea Ernshaw’s Long Live the Pumpkin Queen is a great story, best suited for existing fans of Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas. Told from Sally’s perspective, it takes place after the events of the movie. Sally has married her longtime love Jack Skellington and become the Pumpkin Queen of Halloweentown. She’s uneasy though and doesn’t feel like she deserves the title. When she runs away to clear her head and discovers a long closed door, she unleashes a force of nature on her world and quickly realizes that she’s the only one who can stop it, lest Halloween (and all the other holidays) be lost in the process.  

I was so excited once I heard about the release of the book. An extension of The Nightmare Before Christmas, told from Sally’s point of view? Sign me up! It was cool to get to see glimpses of the other holidays since we previously only saw the areas for Christmas and Halloween. I was curious to see the leaders of the other holiday towns since some of them (like Valentine's Day) don’t have as obvious a leader as others (i.e. The Easter Bunny for Easter). It was also intriguing to learn more about Sally’s backstory. I did miss the music from the original movie but given that this is a book I didn’t let that affect my enjoyment of the read too much. 

While the writing style has some gothic elements fitting the setting, it was a bit too whimsical and repetitive for me. The first chapter reads more like something Snow White would say, rather than a lifelong resident of Halloweentown. I did enjoy Sally’s journey, and how real her struggles with self-esteem and anxiety were but the book reiterated she was a ragdoll a bit too much for my tastes. It’s a very character-driven story that relies on the reader’s nostalgia, making it hit or miss for those not familiar with the original tale. 

Long Live the Pumpkin Queen was an enjoyable book and a perfect read for the upcoming autumn season. It’s listed as a young adult book, but I think it would be equally suitable for older middle-grade readers as well. The author did a great job bringing Halloweentown to life in book form - Cissy Jones took that to another level with her performance in the audiobook narration. The only thing that was missing in the audiobook was some spooky background music to set the mood (bonus points for some Danny Elfman tunes). If you’re looking for a quick enjoyable read to celebrate Halloween, this is the book for you. 

About the Book
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.

About the Author

Shea Ernshaw is the #1 New York Times, USA Today, and Indie Bestselling author of the YA books: THE WICKED DEEP, WINTERWOOD, A WILDERNESS OF STARS, and LONG LIVE THE PUMPKIN QUEEN. Her debut adult fiction novel, A HISTORY OF WILD PLACES, was an Indie Next Pick and a Book of the Month selection. She is also the winner of the Oregon Book Award. She often writes late, late, late into the night, enjoys dark woods, scary stories and moonlight on lakes.

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