The 13 Ghosts of Christmas

by Simon Marshall-Jones

Book review

In its short time Spectral Press has become a byword for quality and consistency and it is pleasing to see this continue with 13 Ghosts of Christmas, it's first anthology. The book is opened with an informative historical look at Christmas Ghost stories from Johnny Mains and is closed by a heartfelt selection of acknowledgments from Editor/Publisher Simon Marshall-Jones. In between are a wonderful and eclectic selection of creepy winter tales from a mix of newcomers and genre stalwarts.

An Odd Number at Table - John Costello

A strong opening to the collection is provided by this first published story from John Costello. A family Christmas with a very spectral guest is given depth by a superbly realised group of grotesque characters that bought to mind favourable comparisons to the work of Reggie Oliver. My personal favourite of the anthology. 5/5

Concerning Events at Leinster Gardens - Jan Edwards

This story had a strange feeling of time-slippage as a fancy-dress party goer attends what may be the wrong party. I was left slightly perplexed and unsure as to what was happening. 3/5

Carnacki: A Cold Christmas in Chelsea - William Meikle

The style of this type of story robbed the tale of any sense of suspense or jeopardy for the main character and by extension the reader too. 3/5

A Taste of Almonds - Raven Dane

A well told revenge tale that probably had the least need of a Christmas setting. 3.5/5

Where the Stones Lie - Richard Farren Barber

Great sense of setting in this tale of young children exploring rural Ireland. An eeriness and an unsettling conclusion also added to this superior short story. 5/5

All That is Living - Nicholas Martin

This story had a wonderful anytime quality to its opening exchanges. The switch to a more isolated location added a sense of ambiguity to events leaving the reader to make up there own minds about the validity of the protagonist's experiences. 4/5

And May All Your Christmases... - Thana Niveau

A very unsettling course of events and superb pacing elevated this Twilight Zone style story. A highly entertaining and well told tale. 5/5

Now and Then - Martin Roberts

A much more depressing and unsettling take on the Christmas ghost story than others in the collection with a very creepy spectral girl that bought to mind J-Horror at its best. 4/5

December - Paul Finch

A decent story with well drawn characters that just felt a little lacking in meaningful action. 3.5/5

Ritualism - Gary McMahon

A superb modernisation of a classic with all the touches you expect from a McMahon story. Down-trodden, socially reticent loser is given a glimpse of the underbelly of the grim North and embraces it in the hope of bringing some sort of meaning to his pathetic life. 4.5/5

We Are a Shadow - Neil Williamson

This great addition to the isolated village horror of films such as The Wicker Man ran the Costello close for the position of favourite. Great setting and well drawn characters are complemented by deft prose. 5/5

The Green Clearing - John Forth

Once again setting and characterisation are strong and are complemented by a wonderous sense of nostalgia for the simpler times of youth and of burgeoning first love which elevate what is a fairly rudimentary plot. 4/5

Lost Soldiers - Adrian Tchaikovsky

A creepy and unsettling tale that makes wonderful use of its setting and provides a genuinely surprising twist. 4/5


All in all this amounts to a wonderful first anthology from Spectral Press and hopefully represents the first in a long-running series of Christmas Ghost collections.

Title
ISBN
Author
PublisherSpectral Press
Pages count201
File size7.6 Mb
eBook formatebook, (torrent)En
Book rating4.18 (11 votes)

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