Book Review: Mrs. Claus and the Evil Elves by Liz Ireland
April Claus is very excited to be able to bring her best friend from Oregon, Claire Emerson, up to Santaland to see what her new hometown has to offer in the lead up to Christmas, their most important holiday. Claire originally figured that April had just relocated to a town that really, really cares about its seasonal festivities, until April and her husband Nick (yes, the Santa Claus himself) show up at the Fairbanks, Alaska airport to whisk her off even further north in a flying reindeer sleigh.
Now Claire is slowly adjusting to the idea of Santaland being real, with lots of help from April herself, who reminds her:
“When faced with evidence, you can’t not believe. You’ve seen the elves now, and the talking reindeer.”
“Yup.” [Claire] burrowed down in her seat, still looking unsettled. “What am I supposed to swallow next? The Tooth Fairy? Will the Easter Bunny show up at this all-herd meeting tonight?”
I scoffed. “No one in their right mind believes the Easter Bunny is real.”
“I don’t know what to believe anymore. I’m not even sure if I’m in my right mind.”
“Of course you are. You’re as sane as I am.”
She arched a brow at me, and we burst out laughing.
The camaraderie between the besties certainly helps a lot, as April introduces Claire to her new friends and family up in the wintry north. Besides the human Claus family, Santaland is filled with elves and talking reindeer, the latter of whom are mostly on strike despite it being their busiest season. Several enterprising elves have come up with the idea of using drones to replace reindeer, an idea that has not gone over well with the town’s hoofed denizens. In response, the reindeer have not only shut down all their labor (barring emergency services), but have also canceled their annual games to boot.
The Clauses are attempting to mediate an agreement, seeking to find the right balance between the elves’ industriousness and the reindeers’ rights as workers. The politics has spread even to the annual ice sculpture contest, which April is attending with Claire and a close elf friend, Juniper Greenleaf. April is pleased to see how the prize-giving setup clearly flatters the reindeer:
The exquisite artistry had amazed Juniper and me, too. Considering how long ice statues lasted her in the frozen north, Blitzen the First would be gazing across Peppermint Pond for decades to come. And from a coldly calculating standpoint, given the situation with the reindeer strike, it was just good politics to award the grand prize to a statue honoring one of the most famous of Santa’s original team. It was probably no coincidence that the dais had been set up right next to the Blitzen sculpture.
Juniper, on the other hand, is more concerned with the absence of her new boyfriend, Blinky Brightlow, from the festivities. April secretly thinks that it’s probably for the best that he isn’t in attendance, given the fact that his company is the one behind the controversial drone marketing. But when a disastrous accident involving a rogue drone mars the competition, April can’t help but wonder whether Juniper is right to worry.
Inquiring about the drone in her capacity as Mrs Claus leads to April asking around at Brightlow Brothers Enterprises as to Blinky’s whereabouts as well. While April is happy to shake things up a bit with her questioning, she doesn’t expect for her efforts to lead to the untimely death of the company’s accountant Virgil. When all the evidence points to Juniper as his murderer, April realizes her friend must have been framed. But why, and who would want a humble accountant dead in the first place? April must juggle investigating Virgil’s death with showing Claire around and presiding over her pre-Christmastime duties as Mrs. Claus. What will she do, however, when a murderer decides that she’s next on their naughty list?
This is definitely the mystery series for readers who love a North American Christmastime, as our spunky heroine effortlessly incorporates the magic of the season into her sleuthing. The contrast of adding real world issues into the fantasy setting really grounds the goings-on further in the entertainingly plausible. The cast is almost entirely charming, with April herself leading the way in being one of the people (and elves, and reindeer) that readers will be happy to spend time with. Mrs. Claus And The Evil Elves is the coziest of cozy mystery series, and well-worth a read for anyone wanting an extra touch of whimsy, seasonal or otherwise, with their whodunnits.