Uncle Eben's Christmas is a modern-day, Christian retelling of the classic Dickens' tale A Christmas Carol - written by Stephen Alan Slater. (ISBN 978-193526538-2, Deep River Books, 2010, $12.99)
A new fiction twist on the story all of us know - Eben Johnson is the owner of a home-improvement store that is very successful, especially during the holiday season. In order to make sure and not offend any customers, he prohibits his employees from saying, "Merry Christmas." He continues to reject the idea of the Christmas story presented by his sister's church - until one evening he finds himself in the same position of Ebenezer Scrooge - taking a look at his past, present and future - and seeing if maybe he's made the wrong choice.
There is a festive flavor to Uncle Eben's Christmas - a short, 106 page tale for Christmas time. I really liked the cool storytelling method of keeping it in a detached third-person voice. The organization of the chapters and clever chapter titles enhanced the "holiday-special" kind of feel. The price is a bit high for such a slim novel, though.
Eben is a perhaps a less mean, but just as stubborn version of Ebenezer Scrooge. The main message behind the book will most likely only appeal to Christian readers but is an enjoyable Christmas story. It doesn't come off as preachy or pretentious and portrays the characters (Eben, his sister Hannah, his employees, etc.) in a realistic way. Near the end it begins to have a slightly more legalistic tone - but overall has a good message. Stephen Slater's writing ability is not at all lacking and he uses scripture in a great, encouraging way.
I must admit that the cover of Uncle Eben's Christmas leaves something to be desired, though. All the people look like they are from the 90s and its not eye-catching in a good way, sadly. Plus, they make Eben look like he's a lot older than the character actually is (about 30). However, it does give off the vibes of Christmas and hopefully people will check it out as a possible Christmas gift. The texture/feel of the cover is unique and pretty cool - I found myself obsessively touching it. Lol.
If Stephen Alan Slater were to come out with more books, I certainly would look into them. I think it would be his strong suit to see if there are any other classic stories (especially holiday-related) that he could retell in this sort of manner.
In the end I found Uncle Eben's Christmas to be a quick, inspirational, family oriented, sweet story - great for the holidays!