Wednesday 18 December 2019

HARK! THE HERALD ANGELS SCREAM Edited by Christopher Golden

Hark! The Herald Angels Scream
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This anthology continues my dark Christmassy reads binge. 😈🎄

ABSINTHE & ANGELS by Kelley Armstrong: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Ava and Michael just want to spend a romantic, snowy Christmas together. Instead, they find themselves being terrorised by mummers.

Wow. What an awesome start to this anthology. I loved everything about this super creepy tale, and the ending was perfect!

Also, now I have to find out more about these freaky mummers. 😬

CHRISTMAS IN BARCELONA by Scott Smith: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

What's supposed to be a traditional Christmas trip, this time to Barcelona, soon turns into a very uncomfortable stay. The baby won't stop crying, their luggage gets lost, and then they find themselves in the worst situation possible.

Yikes. This is one freaky story that hooked me from beginning to end. It was addictive, wove a spell on me and is told in such a disturbing style, that it's hard not to love the endless misery.

FRESH AS THE NEW-FALLEN SNOW by Seanan McGuire ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Andy, Chloe and Diane are three kids living in a big, warm house and have parents who are financially successful. They appear to be the perfect privileged family, but there's no love or warmth within these walls. And this Christmas season, their babysitter sees beyond the shiny veneer.

I loved this! Found the Snow Maiden mythology to be fascinating, and felt such sympathy for these kids. It was so refreshing to read a story that doesn't focus on naughty kids and instead confronts that parents can also be quite rotten.

LOVE ME by Thomas E Sniegoski: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

All Flynn wants for Christmas is to see his daughter. To do that, he promises his ex he'll get a job, but it's not that easy for a guy who just got out of prison. And that's how he ends up screwing everything up.

This was another great and super creepy story about a man trying to get his life in order for his child, and instead ends up ruining what be wanted to save in the most shocking way.

That thing was creepy af. 😳

NOT JUST FOR CHRISTMAS by Sarah Lotz: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

After screwing things up, all Jake wants is to get his family back. He figures that buying a Genpet for the family will do the trick, but of course it backfires.

OMG. This story made me laugh so many times. Jake is such a selfish loser, a liar and a user. So I was really happy with how the story turned out. And that Genpet was hilarious!

The moral of the story: don't buy a pet--real or artificial--as a gift.

TENETS by Josh Malerman:

I didn't like this one much. The pretentious characters and writing style really threw me off, kept me at a distance from everything and everyone. By the time I reached the ending, I was bored.

GOOD DEEDS by Jeff Strand:

OMFG. I didn't like anything about this story.


Cassie hates LA, but finds herself at a Christmas party in a big producer's mansion. She loves cinema and this year she's getting a personal tour into the memorabilia room.

This was an excellent story. I loved Cassie. She was clever and kept her secret hidden well until the big reveal. Loved how this turned out. Freaky! Not to mention the play on words title. Very cool.

MISTLETOE AND HOLLY by James A Moore: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Deanna lost her husband two years ago and still misses him. During Christmas it hurts all over again, but she's got her kids... and this year, a miracle might happen too.

I love the way this story revealed a little more with each page. It starts out normal enough, but the cracks in Deanna's life quickly appear. The ending was creeeeepy. On several levels.

SNAKE'S TRAIL by Sarah Langan:

This is another one I couldn't get into.


This turned out to be a freaky and sad story about something that happened long ago during a Christmas party in a hotel, and the weird thing that follows later.

I liked it. Nothing special, but nicely written.

FARROW STREET by Elizabeth Hand:

That was one boring and long Christmas tale about nothing. 😒

DOCTOR VELOCITY by Jonathan Maberry: ⭐⭐

Another disappointing story about a desperate artist losing his spark and the friend that helps him. And it felt like a very long and tedious conversation I was glad to stop reading.

YANKEE SWAP by John McIlveen: ⭐⭐⭐

This was okay. Nicely written, demented, gory and with a bit of a twist.

HONOR THY MOTHER by Angela Slatter: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Agnes has finally convinced all her sons, their wives and kids to spend Christmas with her in Salem. She used the weapon of age against them, and although it worked, it's also her weakness. Well, until she decides it is time to move out...

This is such an AWESOME story. I loved everything about it, but most of all I adored Agnes. It's also a very clever commentary on just how cruel people--especially family--can be to the elderly.

HOME by Tim Lebbon:

Couldn't get into this one because it was so dull.

HIKING THROUGH by Michael Koryta: ⭐⭐

Another average story about an unlikeable character. The only thing I liked was the Blair Witch urban legend vibe.

THE HANGMAN'S BRIDE by Sarah Pinborough: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Oh. This was such a great story within a story and featuring a wicked mystery. Not to mention that the combination of chimney sweeps and Japanese ghosts is awesome.

Seriously awesome.

Well, this anthology turned out to be a mixed bag for me. I either absolutely loved the story, or just couldn't get into it. But I read all eighteen stories, so that's cool.

Every story with a ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ rating blew me away and were quite the treats. 🎁

There needs to be more of these Christmas horror anthologies, that's for sure.

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