Top critical review
I Wanted to Like the Story...
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on August 31, 2022
I've been a fan of 'the Nightmare Before Christmas' for a long time. Read the original poem, own the artbook for the movie, read the comics, even played both the prequel and sequel video games. I even played Kingdom Hearts just to have the opportunity to hang out and explore the world. Seeing a new book bringing us back to Halloween Town made me preorder it almost a year in advance. I was excited to be able to see some new insights, hoping this would be a story that would touch on the hints of other forgotten holidays.
I suppose I kinda got my wish, and then some.
Spoilers start here.
I wasn't a fan of the retelling of Sally's origins, plain and simple. We didn't need her abuse and neglect from Dr. Finklestein to be 'heightened' by finding out he kidnapped her. It also, from a world building point of view, makes no sense why he couldn't have created Sally. After all, he made Jewel AND brought the reindeer skeletons to life. Nowhere in the movie's original source did it make it out that Dr. Finklestein was incapable.
Not to mention Jack's comments of 'I never trusted him'. Uh, Jack? You seemed pretty buddy buddy with him in the movie as you guys talked shop. You two even had a rapport with the whole 'curiosity killed the cat you know' bit.
We get it, you hate the character. He treated Sally poorly, but otherwise was known as an outstanding member of the community. Just like many abusive parents are. That genuinely should have been enough.
Onto another subject: Sally's feelings of insecurity felt like it started far too soon to the point it clouded the moments of happiness she did have. I disagreed with the pacing of that, as I felt she should have been allowed to feel her freedom in her new life with Jack before crashing down with the town folks forcing their own expectations on her-- caging her yet again. We never truly got to experience the highs of 'things will be different', and I feel like the story would have benefited from it.
Also the Queen Elizabeth II cameo was weird. Understand it from a story narrative of Sally finding her way as a new queen, but... touching her in her sleep was strange. A big moment of 'oh, please don't do that.'
Spoilers end here.
Overall? Story felt clunky and didn't really play with already established canon. I did, however, enjoy the author's sense of description. There's plenty of it, and it was an interesting insight to how a rag doll would explain their viewpoint on the world. It has it's moments, but whenever I feel like the story is taking its stride I end up knocked out of the story again by moments mentioned in the spoiler section of my review.
The new town introduced was neat though. The logic of that world felt very much touched into the charming notion of explaining away why a thing happens. It reminded me of the Rise of the Guardians series, truth be told. What with expanding from holidays to fictional beings that are in tune to forces that we tell kids to bring more whimsy to their lives.
Also Valentine's Town says 'gay rights' and I respect that.