Hallmark's "A Maple Valley Christmas" Is Based on a Book

A Maple Valley Christmas Plot Summary   A rancher has spent her whole life working the family farm with her mother and sister, but when a man arrives and disrupts her plans, she starts to question what she actually wants. Starring :  Peyton List and Andrew Walker Image:  Hallmark Media The Movie Is Based on a Book A Maple Valley Christmas is based on the 2018 novel by Jerry Todt, but the Hallmark flips the script.  In the book, Erica is the real estate agent tasked with convincing a maple syrup farmer to sell, but after spending time in the small town, she has to decide between love or becoming a partner in her firm. When Hallmark fans love a movie, they always ask Hallmark for a sequel.  It will be interesting to see if Hallmark produces one because Todt released a follow-up novel in 2020 called A Maple Valley Wedding , which is set one year later.  Erica is in love, she's come to faith in Jesus, but then her ex shows up and sends her on a downward spiral. Did you enjoy this m

Review: Hallmark's "A Fabled Holiday" Shares Storybook Christmas Magic

A Fabled Holiday Plot Summary 

A woman and her childhood friend unexpectedly reunite in a familiar looking town full of Christmas spirit that restores its visitors during their times of deep turmoil.

Starring:  Brooke D'Orsay and Ryan Paevey

A Fabled Holiday-Hallmark
Image:  Hallmark Media

A Fresh and Creative Tale

A Fabled Holiday in not your typical Hallmark romcom, so if you've grown bored with the humdrum and predictable plots that have been offered the past few years, you're in for a real treat.

Talia's father dies when she's a young child, but not before he gives her the book he reads to her each year:  A Wunderbrook Christmas Story.  It's a captivating tale of a magical town that can only be found by people who've forgotten who they are and forgotten how to dream.

As an adult, Talia finds herself giving up on her aspirations to be a writer.  She's a talented storyteller with a very active imagination, but her manuscripts keep getting rejected.  

One day, Anderson, her childhood friend, wanders into her bookstore.  He's a surgeon who questions whether or not he can continue in his current career.  He loses one of his patients, and although it is not his fault, it upends him emotionally.  Talia and Anderson promise to get together soon to catch up.

Strangely, when Talia makes a phone call, she's "accidentally" connected to the Gingerbread Inn where she's offered a holiday stay.  Reluctantly, she decides a getaway will do her good.  

Anderson is on the road, too, and when he runs into a road closure and experiences car trouble, he also winds up at the Gingerbread Inn.

The other guests include Keith and Diane, a couple teetering on the brink of divorce, and Charles, a widower who feels a little lost without his wife.

Blame it on kismet--a fun term for fate or destiny--but all of these guests at the Gingerbread Inn need healing for what ails them.

The Rulers of Wunderbrook

In Wunderbrook, every day is magic.  

Judy operates the Gingerbread Inn, and her husband, Miles, is the mayor.  They share a daughter named Izzy.  In reality, Judy and Miles are the king and queen of Wunderbrook, and Izzy is the freckled princess.

The nasty Mildred, who runs the restaurant, is actually a witch.

All of them are the characters depicted in the fairytale, but it takes the guests time to figure it out.

The rulers of Wunderbrook are in quite a pickle.  Less and less people are reading their book each year, which means fewer visitors are finding them at Christmas.  If something isn't done soon, no one will be able to find them ever again!  That's just fine with Mildred because she thinks of visitors as "interlopers," but her attitude changes when she meets Charles.

Charles (the widower) sees past Mildren's gruff exterior and becomes smitten with her in spite of herself.  She melts a little, just like the Winter Warlock in the classic, Santa Claus Is Coming to Town.

Some viewers shared they were initially confused by the story and said they had to rewatch it to pick up on the details they missed the first time through. 

The most confusing part is how Mildred's wicked ways are somehow part of the master plan to help each guest get back on track.  First, she returns Anderson's car keys to trick him into leaving, and she tells Talia that her chances of being successful as a writer are about like winning the lottery.  How is this helpful?

Every fairytale needs an evil villain, but evil is always evil--it's never a positive, helpful force in disguise, so Mildren's role as the witch who's somehow helping makes no sense.  Even Charles is taken aback when he sees her hissing unkindness, but she tries to convince him it's not really who she is.  I beg to differ!

As I watched, I couldn't put my finger on who Mildred reminded me of, but then it hit me--she looks like Sour Grapes from my old 1980's Strawberry Shortcake collection. 

A doppelganger?  What do you think?

Finally, the Conflict is Believable!

When a romcom story pulls you in, it's annoying when the conflict a couple encounters is manufactured and ridiculous because the writers can't think of a better way to create tension. You know the scene--two people are falling in love, but there's a misunderstanding and before it can be explained, one of them rush off in a tizzy when in real life, a quick dialogue would clear the air in seconds.

In A Fabled Holiday, Anderson confides in Talia about his struggle with losing a patient and how the experience has shaken him.  He is adamant that she does not share his private information.  She agrees, but she's a talker, so on one of her tangents, the secret slips out unintentionally.  She feels horrible, but Anderson is reactionary, and he is justified. 

For a change, the conflict makes sense!

Who Is the Violinist in A Fabled Holiday?

My family pokes fun of me for watching so many Hallmark movies, so when they popped into the room to see which one was playing, it was during the scene with the dancing violinist.  They joked, Could it be any more obvious she's not really playing the violin?  

Violinist, Lindsay Stirling, in A Fabled Holiday
Image:  Hallmark Media

Well, guess what?  They are wrong.  The violinist is Lindsay Stirling, and she has made a name for herself for being a dancing violinist.  You can read an interesting article about her here.

What's with the Jingly Bells?

Several times through A Fabled Holiday, you hear jingle bells coming from nowhere.  There are two reasons for this:

1.  Someone receives A Wunderbrook Christmas Story book for the first time, OR 

2.  The healing of the visitor is successful.

Talia puts all of the pieces of the puzzle together.  Each guest at the Gingerbread Inn has one thing in common--they all know the book A Wunderbrook Christmas Story.  Her suspicion that they are spending time in a magical place are confirmed, and she is set free from living in fear.  She's inspired to write a sequel to the fairytale, and she calls it Another Wunderbrook Christmas. In it, she introduces a new character:  the Noble Knight.

Makes you "wunder" if there will be a sequel!  If there is, let's hope Talia drops the hair bows.

The original writer and narrator is happy the story has been passed along to Talia, even though she doesn't recognize him when he visits her store.  The viewer takes comfort in knowing Wunderbrook will be saved because a new story means new visitors for the magical town.

A Fabled Holiday
Image:  Hallmark Media

My Christmas Tree Rating

The movie is told in fairytale-style from beginning to end.  As the pages turns on the screen, we see each chapter come to life, and it's done beautifully.  

In Hallmark fashion, even the villain finds love!

Out-of-the-box thinking makes A Fabled Holiday one of the most inventive stories of the 2022 season, and it earns four out of five Christmas trees.


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