Last Review of 2018: Never Fear Christmas Horror Anthology

Twenty-Two Tales of Christmas Terror ranging from ancient Iceland to modern-day Iraq by New York Times Bestselling and award-winning authors, including: a new ghost story by Heather Graham, a Repairman Jack Christmas adventure by F. Paul Wilson, a spine tingling tale by master of horror Thomas F. Monteleone, and a special tale of Christmas wonder by Jon Land.

In a unique experience—a story within a story—you will follow along when the MacDonald family discovers an unidentified present under their Christmas tree. Who gave it to them? Where did it come from? No one seems to know. And when they open the mysterious gift, it sets them on a course to a Christmas of terror they could never have expected.

Never Fear Christmas, A Horror Anthology. Authored by Heather Graham, F. Paul Wilson, Lance Taubold, Aidan Russell, Thomas F. Monteleone, Lisa Harris, E. McCarthy, Richard Devin, Lee Lawless, Kristi Ahlers, Don Bruns, Ed DeAngelis, Lisa Manetti, Elle J Rossi, Deborah Grahl, Liah Penn, Crystal Perkins, Greg Linden, Connie Corcoran Wilson, Jeff DePew, Mathew Kaufman. Published November 2015 by 13thirty Books, 497 pages. My edition was signed by the author Aidan Russell at a convention in 2018.

Phew! This was a real beast to get through. At almost 500 pages, that is a little bit more then I like to read, especially when I’m trying to fit this in for the week of Christmas. I bought this book earlier in the year and I had been saving for a special treat this December. I hadn’t read anything put out by 13Thirty or these authors before, so I was really looking forward to jumping in to this. Plus, I love holiday horror, so I was pretty happy to get started!

This was an interesting anthology. You had 22 short stories, but then in between the short stories (as well as at the beginning and the end), there was another story called A Family Christmas Terror. This story told about a family that finds a book under the tree called Never Fear Christmas. Nobody knows who put it there or where it came from. So, for fun, they start reading the stories out loud to each other. After each story, you see the family start having problems… arguing, rowdy behavior, yelling, etc. As the stories go on, the behavior gets worse and worse until the heated finale. All totaled, this was a very short story, but the ending had an interesting little twist to it.

Most of the stories in the anthology were 4s and 5s. There were a few that were rated 1s or 2s and only 1 DNF (Did Not Finish). The low rated ones weren’t necessarily bad, but they just didn’t hold my interest or were not really my style. I know two of them were “real life ” horror, and I can’t stand that type of ” horror”. One of the low rated ones was a military war story that didn’t really seem to fit the anthology theme. Yes. It did happen at Christmas time… but come on, just a military war story in a horror anthology? No. And don’t give me that “Oh the horrors of war!! Man IS the monster!!!” stuff either… I’m sorry, but to me war stories do not go in the horror category. They go in the drama category (or comedy for those few that are out there). Or action category even. NOT. Horror. Sorry. No. The story that I did not finish was a story that was felt like maybe it was trying too hard to work in the song The 12 Days of Christmas. It seemed to drag a little and just didn’t ever get me hooked on what was going on.

I had two favorites. The first one was I’ll Be Dead for Christmas by Kristi Ahlers. It was a great little story about a haunted family lighthouse. The other story I really liked was A Time for Reflections by G. R. Linden. This was a fun little steampunkish Victorian story about a boy who has to go live with his uncle, who is in the process of trying to create a device to open a doorway into other dimensions… then something escapes when the doorway is left open. Both stories were really good and over way too soon. Both would have been a lot of fun as a full length novel! The story by Mr. Linden would be a pretty wicked series. 😀

The last thing I want to talk about is some of the problems with the book. They don’t have anything to do with the authors, necessarily, but more with the publisher. There were a LOT of typos. I mean… a LOT. And then sometimes just the wrong word or words were switched in place. It kinda felt like maybe they didn’t have an editor. I would suggest they invest in one… because, it felt pretty sloppy sometimes. D: Also, there was no copyright dates for the individual stories. I know, it doesn’t seem like a big deal… But some people like knowing if the stories were made for this specific anthology or if they are collected from other places and times. The publisher didn’t say at all. Another thing that was kind of annoying is that they didn’t give any info about the authors. Like, no pages at the back to give a brief blurb about the author or anything. That is one of the best parts about reading an anthology is when you find a story you like a lot, you flip over and read a little bit about the author and then you get an idea about if you want to look in to this author more. I don’t know. All of this just felt kind of…. not as professional, I guess? It wasn’t a HUGE thing, but with all of this piling up, it just got a little irksome.

Over all, it was a decent collection of stories. Most of them are pretty entertaining. A few that just were hard to really get in to. A unique idea about how the stories were inside an over all story. The biggest problems with the book were not the stories, but just with some of the slappiness from the publisher. It would have been a lot more enjoyable if 13Thirty tightened up a few editing problems and added a few things that were missing.


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