Book Review: Oh Horrid Night

ohorridblog3‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house was a slew of creepy-crawly horror stories guaranteed to scare you more than Aunt Gertrude’s pudding surprise (no offense to the reader who has an actual Aunt Gertrude who brings mystery desserts to family dinners).

Well, hello and welcome back for another good laugh at my feeble book reviewing attempt. Keep laughing, doesn’t bother me. When I review books, I indulge myself in gas station nachos– there’s a payoff after all.

Salem, Massachusetts-based press, FunDead Publications does it again! Headed up by Amber Newberry, Author of ‘Walls of Ash’, this small but growing press places a direct focus on publishing the macabre– which makes sense– they’re based in Salem… soooooooooooooooo, it’d be strange if they produced works about pink unicorns that fart sparkling wish fairies with purple glow-wands. At least, it’d throw me for a loop–

Following the success of their debut anthology ‘Shadows in Salem’, they set out to compile some of the best and upcoming voices in horror for a creepy seasonal selection guaranteed to make its reader think twice before dipping into that figgy pudding.

Boasting twenty unique short stories with compelling voices, ‘Oh Horrid Night’ is nothing short of disturbing. Without a doubt, it left me wanting more, or maybe a teddy-bear or night-lite or Shemar Moore…Just sayin’ . Not that I’d publicly admit to using a night-lite…

*Coughs* Moving on,

Load up on the bread and milk, kids because the icy journey begins with Corrine Clark’s ‘A Ghost Story’ where a stranded traveler shares a tragic story about a wife who goes in search of her husband and reaches a gruesome end, or is it the beginning of forever? Muwhahaha….

Who loves caroling? Meeeee. At least, I used to. Then, I read Kenneth Cole’s (No, I’m not talking about the shoe company)  ‘Carolers’ and found I could no longer hold my sheet music still from shaking. Maybe it was the Felix the Cat clock that did me in right there.

One thing I have enjoyed throughout both books is the collection of voices and ‘Sol Invictus’ by Kevin Wetmore can be heard loud and clear. Not familiar with the subject, I did a bit of research. Here’s a link that’ll explain more about Sol Invictus. What do I love about the story? Uncle Mike’s retelling, duuuuuuuuuuuh. Or maybe the pipe-dream that the mystery stranger Uncle Mike encounters could look like Ian Somerhalder (??).

… And a holiday horror is not complete without Krampus. Now, I was hoping that in Brad Christy’s ‘ ‘Twas the Fifth of December’, Krampus might fool us all and be some good looking, yet shady character. No luck there and no luck for little Robby. The shocker to Christy’s tale was the ending; I caught up with Christy and asked him why he decided to trick me out with that. In his words, “I chose that particular ending because I wanted the reader to continuously question the reality of the situation. Is Krampus real, or just all in Robby’s imagination?…”

One of the most interesting questions to put to authors is, what inspired your story. Christy answers, “I’ve always been fascinated with the psychological aspects of horror. ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’ for me, was greatest in the moments leading up to the killing, so I wanted to take a subject that screamed splatter punk and twist it into a psychological horror.”

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“She rubbed a hand over the place on her shoulder which had crashed against the wall of the carriage. It hurt more than it should have on account of the large, purple bruise in the shape of Lord Beaufort’s hand. She’d dressed carefully that morning, choosing a high collar to cover the part of the bruise that extended across her collar bone. She was grateful for the thick, long sleeves which covered the fading wounds down her arms from the many terrible interactions with her husband in the previous few weeks. Lady Cassandra hoped the browned bruise on her hand would not be too visible to her grandmother when she took off her travel gloves for tea.” — From “A Perilous Gift” by Amber Newberry

“A Perilous Gift” by Amber Newberry illustrates a shining example of feminism in literature. What better way for a woman to maintain power over a man than by a symbol of objectification. You’ll follow after you read the story.

Another aspect I enjoyed throughout the collection is, simply put, nothing is sacred, not even the much sought after figgy pudding. Admittedly, I’ve never had figgy pudding.

*Gasp* I’ll wait while you shake your head in dismay and disgust.

Finished? No.

*Sigh…* Fine…

Now? Yes, Erin, I’ve found coping mechanisms for my disappointment in you.

Great! Moving on…

If you’d like to mail me figgy pudding, please don’t. After reading “Figgy” by Wendy L. Schmidt and “The Sixpence in the Pudding” by Callum McSorley, I’ve concluded this pudding can giveth and taketh away…and I’m not talking about your waistline. I will not entertain receiving this in the mail, if you’d like, feel free to message a recipe to me– then I’ll know exactly what is in the mystical dessert.

While “Shadows in Salem” gave us voices from a gamut of time periods, “Oh Horrid Night” serves the reader with tales from an array of cultures. I particularly enjoyed ‘The Black Coach or the Visitation at Wakwak Creek’ by R.C. Mulhare & I.M. Mulhare. Hoof beats sound in the distance, but it sure isn’t Cinderella’s carriage. Perhaps, you guess, it’s family coming for the holidays… keep dreaming, this is a horror anthology, after all.

From the German celebration of Ogden to the Roman Saturnalia to the status quo’s commercialization, the history of the holiday season is undoubtedly deep-rooted in culture and tradition.

This being the case, what does the collective of voices tell the reader about this time of year?  In a broader sense, the message is remembrance of the impoverished, of past transgressions, and lost loved ones.

Therein lies the juxtaposition between the warmth of friends and family depicted in traditional representations of the holidays and the reality of death, poverty, domestic violence, economic, cultural, and feminist struggles that continue despite society’s attempts to wrap them in pretty paper and garnish with glitter bows.

There’s something eerie behind the thousands of strands of twinkling lights garnishing the neighbor’s front porch (and it may not be limited to their electric bill…).

I would highly recommend the series of stories; I found them to be engaging, fast-paced, compelling, and meticulously edited.  –‘Till Next Time–

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“I have had a blast working with FunDead Publications! I will keep submitting to and working with FunDead for as long as they will have me. I highly recommend their works.” -Brad P. Christy

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5 thoughts on “Book Review: Oh Horrid Night

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