Thursday, December 6, 2018

Mini Truth Speaks on The Coal Elf (#ThrowbackBookReview)

Hello everyone! Welcome to Throwback Thursday on Unleashed Truth. I am your hostess, Miss Ova Veugh. Today's throwback comes from September 2014. It is a book entitled The Coal Elf by Maria DeVivo. Will this work be up to snuff? Let's travel back with Mini Truth to find out.

The Coal Elf by Maria DeVivo

Blurb (per Goodreads)

Ember Skye is a fed up teenage Coal Elf with a big ashy chip on her shoulder. Having been torn away from a carefree life and forced into a world of dirt and darkness has started to get the best of her. And being the only girl-elf working as a coal miner at the North Pole doesn't help much either!
Then there's Sturd: a power-hungry, twisted elf with a checkered past and a serious grudge against Ember. Slowly but surely, his maniacal tendencies are revealed, leaving Ember with the sacred "Naughty List" literally in her lap.
When a mysterious illness threatens to decimate elves both Above and Underground, Ember is thrust into a journey that will see her confront the literal and figurative demons of her past and lead her to the head of the North Pole himself.
Yes! Santa is real. But this isn't your childhood Christmas tale.

Ember Skye is a rarity—she's a female coal elf.

What is a coal elf, you ask? Coal elves are the elves that mine and collect the coal that will be distributed to all of the naughty children of the world on Christmas Day.

Why is Ember a rarity? Because the position of coal elf is typically reserved for male elves. If and when a female is sent to the mines as a Life Job, it's typically as caretaker of the miners—this is not Ember's job. She IS A miner.

Ember finds herself in a dark place in life, as she is struggling with her inner demons. She cannot understand why “The Boss” would put her here. As the matter a fact, she questions everything. She's constantly haunted by her happy elven childhood, and is pestered by the fact that she has to be here (in the mines) as opposed to “Aboveground” where she grew up happily. Her family wasn't perfect, sure. Her mother was uppity and her father a softy. Her sister was always teasing her, like all sisters do—this was the extent of hard times in her life as a child. She had a marvelous granny that loved her dearly and took great care of her. So, things weren't really that bad. At least until the day she discovers the Life Job that The Boss assigned to her.

Her father tries to console her by telling her that she's probably going to be a care taker, and that he was certain that there was a higher purpose, however at this point in Ember's life, she's already been mining for six years; so, what higher purpose could there be? None that she could see.

This story is filled with colorful characters and prose. There are so many layers to this story that if I were to get into it, I might not complete this review. Suffice it to say that I enjoyed it very much.

Following I'll give you my thoughts in the form of Pros and Cons. I'll start with the cons, as there are very few of them.


  • My only complaint, if any, had to do with sentence structure issues. Now, bear in mind—this is very important—grammatically speaking, they were not incorrect. It's more of a personal preference than anything else. Only because in constantly reading sentences like these, the reader can become exhausted.

It had to do with the excessive use of the “;” (semicolon).

I suppose it's best to show you rather than tell you.

Page 145 Reads as such:

“She knew what she felt; she knew what her intentions felt like; she knew the desperation inside her when she looked at Banter sprawled out helplessly on his bed; she knew the dread she felt to think the same fate would befall Barkuss, or Tannen, or even herself.”

Sentences like this were found time and time again throughout the entirety of the text. In my own humble opinion, the excessive use of semicolons could have been cut down by the simple implementation of periods and the starting of a new sentence.

This did not affect my opinion of the book.

So, that was it. No more cons.


  • The author had an incredibly crafty way of writing her prose. There were so many great little tidbits in her writing style that made me chuckle in content. Following is an example—page 25 reads as such:

“Alone, she collected her thoughts and tried so desperately to piece together some sort of meaning to it all.





All day. Every day. For the List. Chosen by the Boss. Summoned by the Council. Hacking away at cave walls.”

I absolutely adored this, because it not only demonstrated the thoughts, but also the actions. It was little things like this that made me smile throughout the story.

  • The characters were believable, as was the plot.
  • While the story was made for Youth/YA's, it is definitely something an adult can enjoy. Or, the adult that's a kid at heart.
  • The story line was intriguing and well thought out. It demonstrated the “dark” side of Christmas, and was portrayed well.
  • The invention of elven things like Coppleysites, Nessie Fruit, Graespurs and Grulish, were just so cute, well explained, and creative.
  • Each character description was on point, and helped the reader see the characters.
  • While this was a “dark fairy tale”, it wasn't so ominous that it made one feel sad. As the matter of fact it did quite the opposite. Even while you were reading a “dark tale” you could still feel the Christmas cheer. I loved that about the story.

All in all, I absolutely loved The Coal Elf, and highly recommend it to anyone that is looking to read about the other side of Christmas.

My final score...


That includes this week's Throwback Thursday. I am Ova and out!

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