*I received a free copy of this book with thanks to the author, Point Blank Crime and Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources blog tours. The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*
Blurb: From the twice CWA Dagger shortlisted author of The Twelve Strange Days of Christmas come thirteen twelve stories to transport you to the macabre world of inexplicable phenomena.
As the dark winter nights get longer, prepare to lose yourself in the world of the strange. With a tale for each day of Christmas and a rather unlucky 13th, Christmas is not the only spirit in these pages. ‘Tis the season for sacrificial feasts, cultish communities and a train with a rather final destination. So wrap up warm and let yourself get lost in the world of the strange, the scary and the supernatural…
Technically there is a story in here for each of the twelve days of Christmas – and a spare poem for luck (though which kind of luck I couldn’t say) – but I have to confess, I wolfed all thirteen down in a single sitting and had absolutely no regrets… unlike that time when I got to my advent calendar a little early.
There is a mixture of stories in here: some crime or mysteries, some verging on the horror side of things, some clever retellings of classic fairytales. The common thread is that each story has a touch of the paranormal or unusual, macabre or strange, about it. Dark woodland rituals can be found here – very appropriate for those longer, wintry nights – and festive merriment is twisted into something a little scarier and a lot less jolly.
My personal favourite has to be the triptych of ‘Magus’ stories, which begins with Maggie visiting her friends in an isolated rural community, delves into some creepy local history, and eventually comes full circle as we return to Maggie’s perspective and can finally piece together the mystery of Iders End, Lady’s Day and Modranicht. That one is definitely going to stay with me for the foreseeable future!
That said, there wasn’t a single one of the thirteen that I didn’t enjoy, different as they all were in both style and content. If you’re looking for a read that perfectly combines the spooky and festive seasons, in short story format, then grab this collection, draw the curtains (to keep out bats and flying reindeer) and get cosy with a steaming mug of pumpkin spice egg nog (other beverages are available, thank goodness!).
The nights may be getting longer and darker, but the stories are short, spooky and semi-festive, and… well, yes, still dark!
You were probably expecting a journal. I, myself, was intending to write such a thing but, as has been pointed out, a diary suggests more permanence than a letter. The reader may be reticent to destroy a book, imagining it may have some worth to offer later generations, some gems to bestow.
This does, of course.
Nevertheless, it must be destroyed after you have read it.– Syd Moore, from ‘II Second Magus: The Wise Man’ in The Twelve Even Stranger Days of Christmas
SYD MOORE is the author of the Essex Witch Museum Mysteries (Strange Magic, Strange Sight, Strange Fascination, Strange Tombs and Strange Tricks) all published by Point Blank. The series was shortlisted for the Good Reader Holmes and Watson Award 2018. She has been shortlisted twice for the CWA Short Story Dagger for The Strange Casebook (2018) and The Twelve Strange Days of Christmas (2019). Her debut screenplay, Witch West, which she developed from an original idea, has been optioned by Hidden Door Productions for production in 2021. Syd is a founder member of the Essex Girls’ Liberation Front which successfully got the term ‘Essex girl’ removed from the Oxford English dictionary. She lives in Essex.
The Twelve Even Stranger Days of Christmas releases on Amazon TODAY!
Don’t forget to stop by the other blogs on this tour (see the poster below for details) for more great content and reviews.