Book Review: Scrudge & Barley, Inc. by John Inman

E.B. Scrudge, or Ebbie to very few, runs his insurance company with an iron fist and treats everyone cruelly and selfishly, including the one person who sees the good in him and is in love with him, his assistant, Willie. But on Christmas Eve, he gets visited by three unconventional spirits who show him his past, his present, and his future, finally making him see the kind of person he really is and what he needs to do to change.

Book Review: Scrudge & Barley, Inc. by John Inman | reading, books, book reviews, fantasy, lgbt, holidays, christmas, retelling, a christmas carol retelling, m/m
Title: Scrudge & Barley, Inc.
Pages: 200
My Book Rating:
More Info: Goodreads, Amazon, Publisher


*I received an ecopy of this book from the publisher. This has in no way influenced my review.*

Don’t let this book fool you—from the cover and blurb, it seems like it’s just going to be silly and sexy and campy, but, while it may in fact have Dickens twirling in his grave, it’s actually very touching and meaningful.

This book was far more emotional than it was funny. I only laughed maybe twice, but, while I can’t say I cried either, I really felt for all these characters. I felt terrible for Willie, who was taking care of his mother with dementia and being heartsick over Ebbie. I felt terrible for Barley, who loved Ebbie but died knowing Ebbie was only using him for his money. I felt terrible for Wendy, who was suffering from an unknown illness, and her mother, who was struggling to pay for everything and help her daughter. I felt terrible for young Ebbie, who was treated horribly by his family and his whole town for being gay. I even felt terrible for current Ebbie as he started realizing what a terrible person he was and was ashamed of himself because, even though he hurt people and did selfish things, I understood his motivation (I’m not excusing his actions, simply saying I understand why he became that way), and he was learning and growing and willing to see the error of his ways.

But even though there was a lot of sad and serious stuff, this was not a sad book. I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say there’s a happy ending since you’d have to be living under a rock to not know that Ebenezer Scrooge becomes a changed man by the end of the original A Christmas Carol story, and thus Ebbie Scrudge becomes a changed man by the end this retelling. In fact, the ending was rather sappy, and the romance moved rather quickly and suddenly, but I can’t even complain because that’s really the only ending that would’ve been right.

It was also kind of fun how the author used a witty omniscient narration style, similar to the original. And even though in most cases I don’t like omniscient, it worked here and didn’t make me feel any less connected to the characters.

So overall, this was a modern and fun but still sweet and touching retelling that I absolutely recommend and really enjoyed reading!

Book Blurb

A classic tale takes off in sexy new directions! Poor Mr. Dickens must be twirling in his grave.

When E.B. Scrudge, putz extraordinaire and all-around numbnuts, is visited by his dead ex on Christmas Eve, he can’t imagine how his life could sink any lower. But the three ghostly spirits that come along after are even worse! Good lord, a dyke, a drag queen, and rounding out the trio, a big, hunky bear with nipple rings and a butt plug! What’s next?

What’s next is a good deal of soul-searching and some hard lessons learned with a dash of redemption thrown in for good measure.

And love too, believe it or not. Love that had been simmering all along at the heart of Scrudge’s miserable existence, although he was too selfish to see it—until a trio of holiday beasties pointed his sorry ass in the right direction.

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  1. Becky @ A Fool's Ingenuity

    I didn’t think I would ever want to read a retelling of A Christmas Carol (since I am not a big fan of Dickens in general) but this book actually sounds quite good. By the sounds of it it’s not falling into the trap of being too silly instead manages to make what is a bit of a lighthearted premise into a really interesting read. I’m glad it doesn’t become too depressing but isn’t ridiculously camp either. It’s a delicate balance with a story like this one, if it goes too far one way readers won’t like it. By the sounds of it this one is totally a success and I’m off to see if I have time to read it before Christmas.

    Although, what is with that cover? That cover does not do the book justice.

    1. Kristen Burns

      It really did find a great balance, and even though one of the characters was kinda silly, the book overall really wasn’t. I love that the art on the cover is so well done, but you’re right, it really doesn’t do the story justice.

  2. Lola

    It does look mostly silly and sexy from the cover, but from how you describe this book it’s way more than that. Sounds interesting how it makes a twist on a well known Christmas story. Sounds like it’s quite the emotional read. I like the sound of how Ebbie changes his ways and how it even make a bit sense why he was that way. Glad to hear the ending fit the story. I am not a fan of omniscient narration, but it seems like it really works here. Great review!

    Lola recently posted: Sunday Post #209

    1. Kristen Burns

      Yeah, the inside and the outside just really don’t match! And it was pretty emotional, I really felt for these characters! And yeah, the omniscient worked well, maybe because it mostly was focused on Ebbie and a few chapters on the other character, so it felt kinda like 3rd person limited, but the narrator had his own voice and would sometimes talk to the reader or tell us something.