Though I’ve watched my fair share of holiday horror films, I didn’t know that this was a book category that I needed in my life!
To be honest, I’m not the biggest fan of Christmas. I am sort of a Grinch, but I never quite get to the part of the story where my heart grows five sizes or whatever. So a collection of tales about the woes, strange and eerie legends, and straight-up Christmas psychos is definitely more my style. And this collection definitely did not disappoint.
When you think about it, there are actually a lot of things to be scared of at Christmas, and I’m not just talking about your grandma’s fruit cake. First of all, Santa. A dude who’s been stalking children all year and judging them breaks into their houses to leave presents?? Why is this a thing?! Why do we tell children this story? Horrifying. And then there’s Krampus, who will whip you or even put you in cage if you’ve been bad. Statistically, more people have heart attacks on Christmas than at any other time of the year, and the suicide rate is also way up. Snow might look pretty from a distance, but it is easily the worst weather for driving in, and if you’re stuck far away from civilization? Goodbye.
I’m just saying. Christmas is a hidden killer. And these stories don’t go for the low-hanging fruit that I’ve mentioned here. There is a lot more originality and not even one Krampus cavorting about these pages. It’ll get you thinking about what’s hidden behind all that Christmas cheer. . .
Standout stories for me were:
“Absinthe & Angels” by Kelley Armstrong: I didn’t even know what “mummers” were before I read this, and now I’m scarred for life. Thank you.
“Christmas in Barcelona” by Scott Smith: This story got to the core of one part of the holidays that can really suck: traveling. I loved the set-up and the characters, and I had no idea where this strange little story was going. Perfectly written.
“Tenets” by Josh Malerman: This story digs into what might happen if you invite a former cult leader to your holiday party. It is one of the quieter stories, but it had a great sense of creeping dread and completely subverted my expectations.
My thanks to Blumhouse/Vintage and the Night Worms for my copy of this book!
Associate editor, amateur photdographer, bibliophile, and occasional sleuth.