cover image The Haunted Tea Cozy Display

The Haunted Tea Cozy Display

Edward Gorey / Author Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) $240 (0p

Easily the most bizarre of the holiday books, Gorey's antic retelling of Dickens's A Christmas Carol, which first appeared in the New York Times Magazine last year, is in a class by itself. Gorey's inimitably unnerving illustrations augment but do little to elucidate the message of the text--which may be that we ought to lighten up. As Edmund Gravel, the Recluse of Lower Spigot and a miser to boot, eats a slice of 10-year-old fruitcake, a creature that calls itself the Bahhum Bug leaps out from under the tea-cosy and announces itself as the Spectre of Christmas That Never Was. The Bahhum Bug transports Gravel to various locations where strange characters undergo irrelevant experiences. Another ""subfusc but transparent personage"" then appears and whisks Gravel to a second round of banal situations. A third creature is the Spectre of Christmas That Never Will Be. Somehow, Gravel is affected by the senseless scenes he witnesses and decides to throw a giant party. That's it, but it's all a grand antidote to fruitcake, inspirational uplift and Christmas cheer. (Nov.)