I highly recommend not starting this series with this book. It is further down the series that I would have liked to continue with the story that I rather enjoyed in the first installment, but since I had access to it, I had to give requesting a chance to it a shot. This is a kind of series where the emotional investment in the characters in the narration have a huge role in deciding how one’s reading experience would be. Although the Strange family is the main name in the town, all the ‘smaller’ players are not exactly small players. Each brings with them strengths and weaknesses, that make the reader root for them in times of adversity. It has been a while since I last left all of them and a lot has changed, with new kids on the scene. At the same time, the troubles have stayed a constant, especially the heavy burden in trying to keep the Hall running and an added issue of a promise Humph made out of the goodness of his heart. Christmas is upon them and since there is no special income coming in, all the heads pitch in with ideas. In trying to implement these ideas more things go wrong than right.
The joy of the series is watching the events unfold, there is no hurry in trying to get to the end. It is the kind that for each actual trouble within the book, it is harder to put down but once that is passed and before the next trouble is in sight, it can be set aside and resumed with ease. The people (it needs iterating) are the core of this story and this one mostly features Humph, Phineas, and Rupert: The local Lord, the pub owner, and local resident writer and the tramp. It is an odd combination of brains but they are rich enough characters to send ripples into their surroundings. This book is better read after an introduction to how they were before this tale.
I received an ARC thanks to NetGalley and the publishers but the review is completely based on my own reading experience.