It’s the holiday season and love is in the air at Drakenfall, but so is the lingering aroma of secrets and suspicion. In this wonderful sequel to Upstairs, Downstairs…and The Lift in Between, A Novella (Drakenfall Book 1), acclaimed and best selling author Geralyn Corcillo weaves a tale around several of the characters we first met in Drakenfall Book 1. Of course, Mark and Maisy are back. Yet, what Corcillo does with A Drakenfall Christmas is to expand on the beloved staff members at Drakenfall in a way that is both intriguing and refreshing.
The book opens with Glynis Ferry, Drakenfall’s unflappable house manager. For anyone who might question the rationale of beginning the sequel with a supporting character like Glynis rather than lead protagonists Mark and Maisy, you underestimate Corcillo’s skill as a storyteller. Immediately, Corcillo is building suspense. From the outset of this sequel, Corcillo mines dramatic tension and fosters reader curiosity. We want to know what is happening to Glynis and how this particular plot point will develop within the framework of the book.
Mr. Shaun Fletcher provides the romantic impetus for Glynis’ story. I previously noted in my book review for Upstairs, Downstairs…and The Lift in Between, a Novella (Drakenfall Book 1) how much of a calculated decision I felt it was for Corcillo’s narrator voice to take on a more formal, Charlotte Bronte style. Because Corcillo is such a skilled writer, Drakenfall wasn’t burdened by this approach; rather, it added to the “flavor” of a story that takes place in an upper crust English country manor estate. So I especially appreciated that throughout the book Shaun Fletcher was styled as “Mr. Shaun Fletcher.” Pure writing genius by Corcillo!
To witness a character like Glynis who is well disciplined and in control of her emotions permit herself to entertain the prospect of a romance was a delight. Even in middle age one is not immune to school girl giddiness when it comes to matters of the heart, as Glynis discovers. But the road to romance isn’t paved in perfumed rose petals but instead in internal and external complications. Will Glynis’ permit her telling nightmares to undermine her chances for possible love with Mr. Shaun Fletcher? I won’t spoil the plot, but there are some marvelous twists and turns.
Equally marvelous in a supporting character who harbors romantic yearnings is Pippa Taylor. We first met Pippa in Drakenfall Book 1. In A Drakenfall Christmas, I applaud Corcillo in sculpting a believable and inspiring backstory for the young maid that introduces readers to a courageous young woman whose past was shaped by heartache, poverty and struggle. Pippa literally pulled herself up by her bootstraps. Through determination and hard work she carved a life and became a part of a family at Drakenfall. Yet, Pippa has some deep seated insecurities that manifest when she becomes enchanted with Kafi Diop, another Drakenfall employee. Kafi hails from Senegal and is studying at University. For Pippa, Kafi’s educational aspirations make her feel unworthy.
Corcillo devotes much time to the Pippa/Kafi plot. I felt that this was a wise decision that played in quite well with her writing strategy. Again, I won’t spoil the plot for readers, but Kafi is essential to the Christmas theme of the book and also in another plot involving two other crucial characters- James Tovell and Lea Sinclair. In addition, there are some delightfully humorous scenes with Kafi and Maisy. The mark of a thoughtful writer who is fully engaged in her characters is that she is a student of life; that is, amidst the backdrop of emotional turmoil are the sprinkles of hope born from humor. Corcillo continues to be masterful in striking the necessary balance between humor and intense emotion that I feel a well-written book requires.
Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about Mark and Maisy. Those qualities that made you fall in love with Mark and Maisy in Drakenfall Book 1 are on full display in A Drakenfall Christmas. I confess that when I started to read A Drakenfall Christmas, I was concerned that the spark that I felt for Mark and Maisy would be compromised in the sequel. My apprehension proved unnecessary. Corcillo was able to command a full canvas of distinct characters without allowing Mark and Maisy to get lost in something I like to call “literary chaos.” For me, literary chaos is when characters and plot run amok and the author is ill-equip to reign them in. Literary chaos, I would argue, produces reader frustration. Too much is going on…it’s enough to make one quite dizzy!
There is no inkling of literary chaos where Corcillo is concerned. All of her characters are impressively fleshed out. Their flaws and strengths are appropriately weighed against the plots in which they find themselves. We ache for them when necessary; we celebrate their victories as we would our own.
Maisy brought energy to Drakenfall. If being Mark’s soul mate wasn’t enough, Maisy is also the lifeblood of Drakenfall, the nucleus that keeps everything centered. Still, family skeletons become bored when confined to the closet. Maisy’s family skeletons come out to play in this sequel and the ride is intense. I advise readers to pay close attention to these four words: Nay Daisy May Clay. Then thank Corcillo for creating a mini mystery of sorts within a romance within a heartfelt Christmas tale within a story of courage and hope.
A Drakenfall Christmas has everything to feed a reader’s mind and heart. In these troubling times, you owe it to yourself to forget that it is Spring and the calendar reads May 6th. Instead, give yourself to the Christmas spirit. Give yourself to the magic of A Drakenfall Christmas!