Horror for the Holidays

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Horror for the Holidays is a collection of 26 Lovecraftian tales published by Miskatonic River Press. It was published in 2011 and was edited by Scott David Aniolowski. The figure of Krampus is featured on the cover. He is standing beside a 19th century-garbed evil elf-child and what appears to be a sack full of dead children. Despite this cover, the collection features holidays throughout the year, not just Christmas.

There are reprints from horror masters H.P. Lovecraft, Thomas Ligotti and Ramsey Campbell. Lovecraft guru Robert Price also has a tale in this tome. Interestingly there are two stories that feature Ramsey Campbell’s creations. Campbell has been on my read-more-of list for some time, and after reading this collection I would like to pick up either Cold Print or Alone with the Horrors.

There is a little bit of something for everyone here and a real variety of writing styles; some more polished than others:  Most of the stories are firmly planted in Cthulhu Mythos territory and feature some of Lovecraft’s most popular entities: Deep Ones, Shub Niggurath, Cthulhu, ghouls, Elder Things, Yog Sothoth, etc.

My top three favorite tales of this collection:

The Tomb of Oscar Wilde by Wilum Pugmire. A quick read featuring an obscure (to me at least) holiday. Those who have ever wished to be in the presence of their favorite long-dead author will appreciate this tale.

Love and Darkness by Oscar Rios: A campy but well written short story for Valentine’s Day. Good pacing. Clues are dropped throughout the story as to which entity the story is about, with the answer at the end. I have been lucky enough to play in one of Oscar’s Call of Cthulhu games, and his story is as fun as one of his games, and by that I mean very! This tale wins the “Most likely to make Lovecraft blush” award for its sexual content.

Wassail by Tom Lynch: A concise, well written tale. The deity at the end was a surprise, but makes perfect sense in regards to the theme of the story. It was a fun take on combining paganism with the Mythos.

Honorable Mention: Joshua Reynolds had two stories featuring Charles St. Cyprian here: The Dreaming Dead and Krampusnacht. St Cyprian the Royal Occultist, accompanied by his sarcastic female assistant, fights off eldritch beasts in early 20th century England. I’m not always a fan of these types of characters but this one is done well and I enjoyed both tales that were featured in the collection. St Cyprian also has the funniest quote in the book, “That which is not dead is eternally annoying.”

Overall this was a fun book that I think fans of Lovecraft will enjoy.

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