Charles Stross, "Overtime"


Monday, November 27, 2017

Review: O Little Town of Deathlehem

O Little Town of Deathlehem O Little Town of Deathlehem by Michael J. Evans
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: O LITTLE TOWN OF DEATHLEHEM: An Anthology of Holiday Horrors for Charity (Anthology, Grinning Skull Press), edited by Michael J. Evans and Harrison Graves

Every publication I've read from Grinning Skull Press, whether novels, novellas, or anthologies, has been delightful: both satisfying and scary, thought-provoking and memorable.

"One of His Own" by Catherine Grant: I have to call Krampus, the half-demon, half-elf bugaboo of Christmas, the hero in this special tale. Reading of the horrors humans inflict on one another, I couldn't help but cheer him on {"Yes, take that one! Save the animals! Save the innocents"}. Some of his chosen chilled my blood {shiver}. Plus the author treats us to a wonderful arc of character evolution!

"Christmas Wine" by Matt Cowan: Oh my--color me very seriously snow-chilled. This tale is frightening, very much so; my bones feel as if I've spent the night locked outdoors in a snowfall and my teeth are chattering. Scrooge is lucky all he had to contend with were ghosts.

"Home for the Holidays" by D. Alexander Ward: Not your happy holiday reunion, oh no. I feel like this story turned me inside out. Wildly imaginative, terrifying, a fine balance of human evil and something beyond. Don't read alone.

"The Ghosts of Christmas Past" by Richard Farren Barber: So chilling--who among us wouldn't change the past if only we could? What if we could change past events? Would we be willing? Would we be allowed?

"Deck the Halls" by Chantal Boudreau: Gruesome but satisfying, Christmas horror with karma. As ye sow....
"All I Want For Christmas" by Raymond Gates: Really, there are worse events than writer's block. One would be disappointing your loving child; another would be...well, read and find out. {Shudder}

"You Better Watch Out" by Randy Lindsay: I have a special soft spot in my heart for true poetic justice and karma (probably why I like Krampus tales). This story offers a thoughtfully intriguing take on belief (and yes, I really liked it).

"Saint Nick Sticks" by Peter White: another story about belief, again specifically the intense belief only children seem capable of, and about holiday karma..

"With Their Eyes All Aglow" by Jeff C. Carter: Scary. Scary. Scary. Implacable horror in a "what goes around, comes around" fashion. Or more apropos, "will the circle be unbroken." {Shudder}

"Shop Till You Drop" by Michael McCarty and Mark McLaughlin: a cautionary tale about Christmas--beware your addiction to busyness and greed. Gory but not overdone, and delightfully humorous as well. Bertram is a treasure.

"Antiphon" by John Biden: let us not forget what "Santa" is an anagram for...a thought-provoking short tale with a cautionary riff..

"A Christmas To Remember" by JP Behrens: a stomach-churner, as much in an emotional/psychological sense. Some "humans" there are who simply exist "beyond the pale." Chilling tale.

"It's the Most Wonderful Crime of the Year" by Nicky Peacock: Oh, that killer ending! It snaps like a bullwhip, stabs like a knife...

"Krampusnacht" by Ben McElroy: an endearing (if you like your horror extreme and gory) cautionary tale. Remember: karma will catch up with you, no matter how many decades it takes...{or, you get what you deserve}...

"Lots of Love, Uncle Billy" by Adam Millard: wow...I loved this! "Be sure your sins will find you out," cautions an ancient proverb--and how true that proves here...

"You'd Better Watch Out" by Mark Onspaugh: not so much horror (well, there are zombies) but deeply, deeply saddening. A finely-tuned tale with the lasting impact of a silent stiletto to the ventricle...or maybe, since it's about Santa, an ice pick in the ear..

"Santa Claws Is Coming to Town" by Rob Ferreiri: this one is both Christmas horror and sad, and I wouldn't be surprised if it doesn't spark tears in some readers' eyes...

"Riley and the Big Man" by BC Jackson: I never want to see a Santa again. Ever.

"Ornament" by Christopher Miron.: I don't want to see Santa, now I don't want a Christmas tree. I appreciate the "as you sow, so shall you reap" plotting, but oh gosh, this one is SCARY.

"Holiday Icon" by Michael Thomas-Knight: I don't know which I find scarier: the one-percenters' elitism {shades of the prelude to the French Revolution and even more apropos in 2017 than when this anthology was published}, or the denouement and ending, which scared me senseless. I have visions of Nat Turner and Toussaint L'Ouverture, I hear flames crackling and see plantations burning. {And the soundtrack is Neil Young} Mighty scary.

"Christmas in the Snow" by Rose Blackthorn: The scares do not let up in this Anthology! Despite the idyllic Christmas setting, at home in the pines surrounded by fresh-fallen snow, supernatural danger lurks all around. Some real shivers here.

"Silent Night" by Liam Hogan: The implacability of the horror! No escape! The fear alone is stomach-churning.

"Special Delivery" by Simon Bradley. I so did not see this one coming! Unexpected but I had to chuckle.

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