Christmas and Other Horrors, Edited by Ellen Datlow

Oct 17, 2023
Christmas and Other Horrors, Edited by Ellen Datlow HORROR BOOK REVIEW

Christmas and Other Horrors

edited by Ellen Datlow

Titan Books 2023

Review by Mario Guslandi

Legendary editor Ellen Datlow needs no introduction to horror fiction lovers. She has edited countless anthologies of horror stories  featuring original material, not to mention her series of Best Horror of the Year volumes.

This particular anthology is devoted to horrific events somehow connected to the winter solstice, and the contributors to the books include some of the most famous  authors in the field, such as Christopher Golden, Terry Dowling,Glen Hirschberg, Stephen Graham Jones, Kaaron Warren, Jeffrey Ford, Gemma Files, John Langan and so on.

Among the various tales included therein, I will mention my own favourites.

“The Importance of a Tidy Home” by Christopher Golden is a disturbing story where strange creatures haunt the streets once a year searching for untidy homes and horribly punishing their owners.

In the vivid and unsettling “ His Castle” by Alma Katsu some revelers find an unexpected reward while paying a visit to two vacationers while in “ Return to Bear Creek Lodge” by Tananarive Due, a story imbued with dread from beginning to end, a dying granma is accompanied in her last journey by a scary, inhuman creature.

“The Visitation” by Jeffrey Ford is an effective cautionary tale about our inability to open our hearts to other, less fortunate people.

John Langan contributes “ After Words” an intriguing “pillow talk” and a verbal tour de force full of dark implications.

To me the best story in the volume is “The Ghosts of Christmases Past” by Richard Kadrey, an outstanding grim piece where Christmas brings back past horrors and reveals some hidden, terrible truths. 

Christmas and Other Horrors, edited by Ellen Datlow

Christmas and Other Horrors, edited by Ellen Datlow

Hugo Award winning editor, and horror legend, Ellen Datlow presents a terrifying and chilling horror anthology of original short stories exploring the endless terrors of winter solstice traditions across the globe, featuring chillers by Tananarive Due, Stephen Graham Jones, Alma Katsu and many more.

Even though many celebrate the winter solstice as a time of joy, a darker tradition of ghost tales and horror stories resides in the long winter nights. This anthology of all new stories will scour the world for the unholy, the dark, the dangerous, the horrific aspects of a time when families and friends come together―for better and worse.

Alongside Christmas celebrations, around the world are Makara Sankranti in the Hindu calendar in India, Yalda Night in Iran, Chanukah, the Roman Saturnalia, the Krampus, Dongzhi (solar term) in East Asia where sunlight passes through the 17 arches of Seventeen Arch Bridge, Summer Palace, Beijing, the pagan festival of Yule, St. Lucia’s Day in Scandinavia, the Druidic tradition of Alban Arthan, Soyal for Hopi Indians, Peruvian solstice festivals, and even Christmas in Antarctica at the research stations.

Because the weather outside is frightful, but the fire inside is hungry…

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