By Sara Shepard
Series: Pretty Little Liars #4.5
Published by HarperTeen
on January 3, 2012
Rewind to junior year in Rosewood, Pennsylvania, to a winter break no one has ever heard about...
Fat snowflakes fall onto manicured lawns, quilted stockings hang over marble fireplaces, and everyone is at peace, especially Hanna, Emily, Aria, and Spencer. Now that Alison’s murderer is in jail and A is dead, they can finally relax. Little do they know there’s a new A in town...
Rule number one of being an effective stalker: Get to know your prey. So I watch these liars day and night, keeping an eye on the trouble they get into, the messes they make, and the secrets they keep. Hanna’s desperate for a very personal session with her gym trainer. Emily is number one on Santa’s naughty list. Aria’s old flame from Iceland is about to land her in hot water. And Spencer’s resorting to some backhanded tactics to get what she wants.
What happens on holiday break stays on holiday break - right? But guess what. I saw. And now I’m telling.
This book came out in January of this year, but I was very late in getting around to reading it, even though it combines the Pretty Little Liars series with one of my favourite things: Christmas!
According to the synopsis, this book takes place between Unbelievable and Wicked, the fourth and fifth books in the series. Considering the eleventh book, Stunning just came out this month (and is on my TBR short list!), reading this was a bit of a trip back in time in the Pretty Little Liars universe, back to when (SPOILERS) the truth about Mona had been revealed and Ian Thomas was arrested for Ali’s murder (END OF SPOILERS).
This felt like more of a mini-book than full-fledged novel, but I don’t know if it really is shorter than the other books in the series or if I just read it very very quickly. Either way, I totally loved it. It was fun to see what each girl’s family does for their holiday traditions, and how the ‘A’ mystery / threat played into that.
Because of the holiday season, the girls are all split up and so rather than the usual sequence of chapters that alternate between Hannah, Emily, Aria, and Spencer’s storylines, this book had Hanna’s story first, then Emily’s, then Aria’s, then Spencer’s, without alternating or even having the girls in any chapters together. I did miss the interaction and friendship between them all as a group, but it was fun to get a different structure to this series, just temporarily.
If you’re a fan of this series, this is a good addition to your collection. Because it’s a bit of a retcon, it doesn’t necessarily add anything canonical (in my opinion), but does provide some fun new stories and helps to flesh out the series’ world. I would actually like to read more mini-collections like this in the Pretty Little Liars universe – I don’t think Sara Shepard can run out of tricky situations for our girls to wind up in!