Long live The Pumpkin Queen: A sad sequel

Fans of The Nightmare Before Christmas will be heartbroken with the bland story Sally was given in the sequel, Long Live the Pumpkin Queen.


Emily Cardinal, Staff Writer

Spoiler warning


“The book wasn’t good-but it wasn’t absolutely terrible,” Symone Leak, a fellow student at Argo, gave her input on Long Live the Pumpkin Queen. “None of the interactions felt forced. The only reason I really liked it was because it was good writing and not just boring stuff.”

Long Live the Pumpkin Queen was released August 2, 2022 and was written by Shea Ernshaw. She is a New York Times bestselling author who has written A History of Wild Places, The Wicked Deep, Winterwood, and A Wilderness of Stars. The only book that I have read from Shea Ernshaw was Long Live the Pumpkin Queen, which presented a beautifully written story with great detail; despite this, the book was incredibly disappointing and over-hyped.

The fact that this book was YA (young adult) was shocking. It had large print and was only a little over three-hundred pages. The story was missing a lot of the gruesome language and romance that was present in The Nightmare Before Christmas. It felt like reading a middle school book. A review was left by someone under the username Annabel_Hawkins on Good Reads who said, “…this felt bland, uninspired, and lacking in any of the macabre that the film was so full of–nowhere in this novel did it feel like Halloween…” Long Live the Pumpkin Queen was dull and missing all the things that Halloween town was known and loved for.

Putting the dullness of the story aside, the idea that sparked the making of Long Live the Pumpkin Queen was a good one. In The Nightmare Before Christmas, Jack Skellington, The Pumpkin King, had an identity crisis. He wasn’t sure if he was happy with who he was or who he had to be. In Long Live the Pumpkin Queen, it is the same idea but with Sally (his wife), the newly crowned Pumpkin Queen. Shea Ernshaw was excited to explore Sally’s character more and says, “In this book, I really wanted to explore Sally’s identity, and better understand not only who she is now that she’s fallen in love with Jack and taken on the role of the Pumpkin Queen, but also understand how her past has affected her present desires, doubts, and dreams.” The characters in Halloween Town are complex and have a lot of depth. It was unfortunate that Sally’s story wasn’t as well-told as Jack’s.

In The Nightmare Before Christmas, it is known that Sally is a rag doll. Dr. Finkelstein built Sally, so she is his creation. This is proved to not be true in Long Live the Pumpkin Queen when she learns she was actually from a place called Dream Town. Dream Town was a forgotten door that Sally stumbled upon and later learned was her birthplace. Not only is the kidnapped trope overused, but it felt wrong for Sally’s story. Dr. Finkelstein proved in the movie that he was able to create living animals and fellow people. It doesn’t make sense that he would’ve kidnapped Sally when he was able to figure out how to create a person on his own. On top of that, for Sally to have had birthparents is confusing considering she is a rag doll filled with stuffing. She literally repeatedly breaks at the seams.

One more overused trope that was present was the misunderstood villain. Sally accidently freed Sandman from Dream Town. He then went to Halloween Town and put everyone to a deep sleep. He was a well-developed villain–just to have that taken away from him at the ending of the book.

As mentioned before, Sally stumbled upon a door that leads to a new town called Dream Town. The fact that Sally found another door makes her story feel like a knock off of Jack’s. Shea Ernshaw said it herself- she wanted to tell Sally’s story. But Sally didn’t get to have her own story; she was too stuck in Jack’s story to be able to have her own. Sally deserved a story where she would be her own person and make choices for herself.  Every story she made was because of Jack and the fact that she was a queen (despite not knowing if she wanted to be one).

The writing of the book was beautiful, the detail was great, and it was interesting to see inside the head of someone from Halloween Town. Despite this, it was bland, and Sally deserved a better story. Sally-as a whole-deserved better. Jack and Dr. Finkelstein deserved better, too. It was not worth the read.