Sunday Shorts – “Merry Christmas, Mr. Miggles,” by Eli Easton

CoverToby Kincaid loves being the junior librarian in his hometown of Sandy Lake, Ohio. He spends his days surrounded by books and chatting with the library patrons. He especially adores the head librarian, Mr. Miggles, who is kind, witty, knowlegable about everything, and hopelessly addicted to Christmas. Sean Miggles is also pretty cute—especially for an older guy who wears ties and suit pants every day. 

But Sean keeps himself at a distance, and there’s a sadness about him that Toby can’t figure out. When Sean is accused of a crime he didn’t commit, he gives up without a fight. Toby realizes that he alone can save the library—and their head librarian. 

Toby will need to uncover the darkness in Sean’s past and prove to him that he deserves a second chance at life and at love too. And while Christmas miracles are being handed out, maybe Toby will get his own dearest wish—to love and be loved by Mr. Miggles.

I listened to this holiday novella on audio, and before anything else I should mention how well it was performed. The reader, Tristan Wright, didn’t just read, he performed, and the range of voices presented clear definition of character, and the pacing was spot-on. So far, my luck with Eli Easton audiobooks continues to shine (and the bar was set very, very high with an annual re-listen of Blame it on the Mistletoe, performed by Jason Frazier).

Plot-wise, this holiday story ticks off a few boxes: small town holiday, the man trying to make good something from his past, books (it takes place mostly in a library), dating-the-boss, and a slow-to-kindle awareness of a budding romance. That the Mr. Miggles in question is older than Toby, our narrator, gets brought up quite a bit, but it’s only a decade, and we’re talking thirty-something with a twenty-something, so I can’t quite bring myself to call this a May-December. May-June? Whatever.

Toby’s voice is fun, light, and amusing, and also so easy to identify with, as a lit geek myself. His comparisons of his life and those around him to famous works of literature was a cute touch. Toby has a boyfriend (and is slow to realize he’s got a crappy boyfriend), a great boss (Mr. Miggles), and a strong family. Coming back to his small-town of origin was a wise move for him, and his job at the Library is perfect.

Until it’s isn’t. Things take a dark turn in this story when Mr. Miggles is accused of child abuse, and the bulk of the story is Toby juggling his absolute certainty that Mr. Miggles has done no such thing, and trying to save (in no particular order) the library, Mr. Miggles’s career, both their jobs, and the potential of love between them. And maybe Christmas.

(I will say that while the blurb did warn me of “a crime” I wasn’t expecting child abuse. The novella is really, really good, it’s off-scene and lightly described without what I imagine would hit triggering levels for most, and I really enjoyed it nonetheless.)

This was cute, and charming, and tugged on the heart-strings more than once. And although it did have a dose of penetrative-sex-is-just-for-true-love in it, I know that’s a staple of the genre, and it wasn’t a deal breaker by any means, and actually Toby’s thoughts on the topic had some good moments.

I can happily see myself listening to this one again, when the holidays reappear next year.

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