Humbug: Scrooge Before the Ghosts

Humbug: Scrooge Before the Ghosts launches November 7, 2023, but the preorder links are live. You can place an order NOW and have the hardcover book delivered to you the day it is released!


A Christmas Carol shows us one terrible day in Ebenezer Scrooge’s life, but have you ever wondered what came before his fateful encounter with the ghosts of Christmas time? What happened to turn him into the scowling, penny-pinching old man we think we know so well?

There is so much more to this character—possibly more than Charles Dickens himself could ever have imagined.

Scrooge has compelling reasons for hating Christmas, for rejecting his fiancée and his precious nephew, and for employing Tiny Tim’s father, despite his obvious incompetence. He is a doting uncle, beloved brother, successful businessman, and passionate lover, but a dark secret puts both him and his loved ones at risk. Scrooge struggles to embrace his true self and live in defiance of the Victorian era’s repressive moral standards. Soul-crushing losses and his own destructive choices shape his fate into a twisted path of sorrow, frustration, and uncertainty—but also happiness, fulfillment, and love.

Scrooge’s own words sum it up best: How delightfully queer life is.


Sarah Whelan masterfully employs the language of Charles Dickens as she leads his characters on a journey through the past to reveal how Ebenezer Scrooge became a miserly curmudgeon before that fateful Christmas Eve. In the process she delivers a sobering message that is as relevant today as it would have been in Dickens’ time.

Glenda Winders, Author of Sainted in Error and The Nine Assignments

Sarah Whelan has managed to breathe warmth into one of the coldest characters in literary history. More than just a retelling, Humbug is an exploration of how love, grief, and the persistence of the human spirit shapes a life. Hopeful, haunting, and achingly tender, Humbug will break your heart and put it back together again. Christmas will never be the same.

Stephanie Stephan, Associate Editor for Tabula Rasa Review

I loved meeting Mr. Fezziwig and other beloved characters from A Christmas Carol. That made me smile. But, I cried when [spoiler]. I felt deeply for Scrooge throughout the book.

Beta Reader

This is amazing! Hats off to you for accomplishing this–a new twist on a familiar story.

Beta Reader

I think this is a BRILLIANT IDEA. Your first sentence works–very voicey, and lets us know the kind of book we’re about to read. Great.

Best Selling Author

This is the next Song of Achilles. I am so excited!

Sensitivity Reader

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