This book is a delightfully decadent descent into Yuletide madness and horrors that were hilariously imaginative and chilling…in essence, the perfect Christmas tales. Each author in this anthology takes their own twist on a popular Christmas time figure or story and turns it inside out and upside down. You’ll revel in the undeniable moral quandaries that bleed from the pages, and I honestly can’t get enough. My favourite short story was a devilish re-hashing of A Christmas Carol, with added allegorical appeal. These are perfect stocking stuffers for the horror loving eccentrics out there. I felt myself become one with the turn of each page.
A Midnight Clear is composed of six short stories by Black Spot Books authors. Featured within its pages are Sam Hooker, Alcy Leyva, Laura Morrison Cassondra Windwalker, Dalena Storm, and Seven Jane. You’ll start with a story of the North Pole’s Candy Court, venture into the tale of a cursed wolf, wander into the paths of the devil ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future, stumble into a murder with a Rocky Mountain setting, run from the tale of a winter god awoken from his sleep before his time, and crash head-first into the tale of a woman who’s cold spirit turns her very self into ice. Who knows who, or what, will be left alive at the end of these stories, but rest assured, you won’t see any of these endings coming.
Okay, so for 220 pages, this book moved really fast for me. Or maybe that’s just how quickly I was devouring these stories. Each one has its own unique voice and personality, and starting with The Dauntless, with Santa’s Candy Court was genius. I didn’t see any of the twists in this story coming, and man did I laugh, and fight a chill when I found out what was coming. I mentioned it at the beginning, but my favourite story was Movin’ On Up, a creatively re-imagined A Christmas Carol. Of course, I won’t get into it too much because I’d be spoiling the story, but the devil’s in the details. Tidings of the Moon and Sleep, Sweet Khors were gripping tales of the things that we fear, but with a fresh perspective on both.
The Poetry of Snow and Stars was a fun murder mystery with an added romance element that I feel would be accompanied by a hauntingly sad melody if it were projected on a movie screen. I loved the names in this story, I felt that they held a certain symbolism that added a mystical element to an anguished tale. This anthology ends with Snow Angel, where a woman wrapped in her own belief of the Christmas learns the true meaning of Christmas when she freezes solid (think Anna from Frozen). It reminds us of how easily people get trapped into the details of what is intended to be a moment to make memories with family. It was poignant, and an excellent end to this book.
Now, there’s heart-warming bits, and there are scary bits, and there are also little bits of carnage sprinkled throughout like confetti. I would say this may not be for the faint of heart, because these authors are great descriptors, and boy do they know how to describe the tearing of limbs, bodies, and other horrors I hadn’t quite thought of. You’ll be left with more questions than answers in some stories, which in traditional horror fashion, just makes you want to open the next door at your own peril.
There wasn’t anything that I found particularly difficult to get through, although I did get a little lost while reading The Dauntless story. I just had a moment where the flow of the story felt disjointed, but overall, still a wonderful read. The other stories flowed well, and I especially loved how Sleep, Sweet Khors flowed. Not only that, but it was followed by the lyrics to the carol that is sung in the story, and I loved having that.
Overall, I would highly recommend picking up this book. I rate it a 9/10, just for the little bit of disjointedness at the beginning, however, the rest of them more than make up for it. It will definitely be just what Santa didn’t want to deliver on Christmas Day.
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Synopsis | Goodreads
Six stories of not-so-merry Yuletide whimsy from the authors of Black Spot Books. A woman so cold she hardens to ice on a winter’s eve. Risen from his grave before his time, a winter god alters the balance between seasons. A wolf’s holiday season is interrupted by a strange curse. From a murder at the Stanley Hotel to demons of Christmas past, present, and future, and a mad elf and Santa’s Candy Court, the authors of Black Spot Books share their love for winter holidays in this collection of dark winter tales, destined to chill your bones and warm your heart for the Yuletide season.