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Fright Before Christmas: 13 Tales of Holiday Horrors

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It's the most wonderful time of year...or is it?

Christmas Eve is a night of mystery and magic, but not always in ways we expect. Things lurk in the shadows and they're not the least bit jolly or merry. Let's just say some presents are better left unopened.

‘Tis the season to be screaming along with our thirteen tales of holiday horrors. Ghosts. Monsters. Demons. And more!

This Christmas, be careful what you wish for...

192 pages, Paperback

First published November 30, 2015

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About the author

Shannon Delany

25 books1,063 followers
Shannon has written stories since she was a child. She began writing in earnest when her grandmother fell unexpectedly ill during a family vacation. In 2008 her greatly abbreviated version of 13 to Life (written in just five weeks) won the grand prize in the first-ever cell phone novel contest in the western world through Textnovel.com .

Shannon was thrilled when St. Martin’s Press offered her a contract for a series about her 13 to Life characters. She expanded on the cell phone novel version, adding the subplots and characters she didn’t have time to during the contest. As paranormal as werewolves seem, the grief Shannon used to build Jess’s character is something she personally experienced with the loss of her own mother. Focusing on Jess and Pietr’s story of loss, love and dramatic and dangerous changes, Shannon came to better grips with her own struggle. The resulting novel has earned her blurbs from authors she respects most.

The first novel in Shannon’s YA paranormal series, 13 to Life, debuted June 22, 2010, and was followed by Secrets and Shadows (February 2011), Bargains and Betrayals (August 2011), Destiny and Deception (February 2012), and the Rivals and Retribution (August 2012).

Shannon has also debuted with interactive science fiction in her short story ("To Hel and Back") for Spirited: 13 to Haunting Tales (Leap Books) and will make her high fantasy debut with Month 9 Books' charity anthology titled Two and Twenty Dark Tales (October 2012, "Pieces of Eight").

Shannon's second series (a steampunk trilogy titled WEATHER WITCH, also with St. Martin's Press) launched June 25, 2013 with Weather Witch, followed by Stormbringer (January 2014), and Thunderstruck (May 2014).

Previously a teacher, Shannon lives and writes in Upstate New York and enjoys traveling to talk to people about most anything.

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Displaying 1 - 24 of 24 reviews
Profile Image for Marvin.
1,414 reviews5,324 followers
December 16, 2015
Bah Humbug.

Don't take that wrong. I love Christmas. But I also love Halloween and horror stories. And all that treacle and sweetness agitates my Diabetes. I'm not alone in this . In fact I have pretty good company in Charles Dickens whose A Christmas Carol is unapologetically a ghost story...and was probably fairly horrifying to the Victorian set.

Fright Before Christmas: 13 Tales of Holiday Horrors is in that tradition even though most of the stories do not have the positive ending that Dickens settled for. The best way to describe this entertaining anthology is that it is more in the line of Goosebumps!. It is geared toward middle grade children yet some of them are a little on the gruesome side so the parent should screen it first. Personally I think the level of fright and horror is just right .

There are many avenues of scare in these stories. If anything, it shows that anything in the Christmas tradition can be pushed over to the dark side. We have killer nutcrackers (that one especially frightens me!) Steampunk Santas, zombie snowmen, even Bigfoot makes an appearance. I especially liked "Machete Santa" by Medeia Sharif, where a splatterpunk video game becomes too real. Most of the stories are brief. In fact, if there is one complaint I have it is that many of them are single punchlines. I wished for a more extended story on some of the ideas but I didn't get it. I guess I was naughty this year.

So if you are the type that think Santa could use a little more red in his costume, you might like Fright Before Christmas. Yes, the tales are meant for middle grade but I enjoyed them too. So will you.
Profile Image for Michelle .
466 reviews116 followers
November 19, 2015
My Review:
I was going to sit and write a short review for all 13 stories in the book but after reading it I realized that the stories are rather short and I would give to much away so I will review this as a whole instead. Well, I will be skipping Christmas this year…just kidding…I still love Christmas even though this book pretty much scared the stockings right off my fireplace. This was 13 pretty creepy stories and how they were written gave you just enough to creep you out and the end of each story gave you just enough to REALLY creep you out. I can’t really pick a favorite but they all had me wishing I read this book more during the day than at night.

. For those that might not be a fan of Christmas this is the perfect book for you and for those that love Christmas this book is a fun (and by fun I mean in a scare you into keeping the fireplace lit on Christmas Eve, sort of way) read to remind you that Santa is always watching and you better be good, for goodness sake. Plus NEVER, I mean NEVER open a video game before Christmas and don’t bring home creepy nutcrackers from antique shops.

This is listed as middle grade but it does have some pretty scary stories, so if your kids are into horror this would be perfect for them but if you have a middle grader that scares easily you might want to read the book first before giving it to them.

I highly recommend for anyone that is looking for a good horror Christmas book with 13 amazing stories by some pretty awesome authors. I actually really enjoyed this and was a nice change from all the cute, fluffy Christmas stories. Something different to get you in a Christmas mood…well….sort of. ;)

Thank you so much for stopping by to check out my review

Hope you have a great day and Happy Reading!

Name2014 This review was originally posted on Because reading is better than real life
Profile Image for Beverly McClure.
Author 17 books453 followers
December 2, 2015
Christmas, a time for Nativity Scenes, baby Jesus, Christmas trees, Santa, reindeer, gifts and magic and spells. Wait! Wait! Magic? Spells? What kind of Christmas are we talking about here?

The anthology FRIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS may be talking about Santa, but not the Santa one normally pictures. The reader may be looking at coal in a boy’s stocking because he was naughty. Aw, Santa wouldn’t do that, would he? Or is it even coal? And usually the snow men we read about in most books remind us of cute and friendly Frosty the Snow Man, right? Since when did snowmen start carrying weapons? Add a nutcracker that I dare not describe and other most unusual characters, unusual to be found in a Christmas story, that is, and we have a book that may make us want to avoid Christmas this year, and maybe forever.

The authors in the anthology FRIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS, Lea Storry, Richard Ankers, Laura Pauling, Patrick Hueller, Jackie Horsfall, Boyd Reynolds, Ally Mathews, Jessica Bayliss, Judith Graves, Andrea Stanet, Dax Varely, Medeia Shariff, and Ty Drago have turned the Night Before Christmas into a Fright Before Christmas with characters that may give the reader nightmares. My suggestion is to read the stories with the lights on and preferably not alone. The stories are creative and imaginative and will give you chills. You also may want to read them over again. Happy reading.

I was provided with a copy of the anthology for my honest review.

Happy Reading
Profile Image for Veronica.
683 reviews15 followers
March 9, 2016
Oh was this ever a treat to read! It seems geared for a younger group of people perhaps middle school but it is so very good that anyone should enjoy reading it. The title says it all. We think of Christmas as warm and cuddly sitting by a fire with hot chocolate and love all around but we forget that there can be another side to Christmas (think A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens). Every story is completely original and well written and I was so tempted to to let my kids read a few of them but as it was an ARC, I decided to just boast about the book and attempt to find it for them for next Christmas. It is a perfect blend of delicious horror but diluted enough for young people. If your children love scary books like Goosebumps or similar novels or series then take a good look at this one especially for the Christmas season. I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest review. Thank you so much for this treat :)
Profile Image for John Ratcliff.
27 reviews21 followers
December 13, 2015
I discovered this book on Net Galley the other night and was so intrigued I decided to purchase it through Amazon; I'm very glad that I did. I thoroughly enjoyed every story and recommended it to several friends and the members of my book club. Five frightening and spooky stars. ☠
1,376 reviews18 followers
December 20, 2015
After reading this book, I am not sure how to rate it. There are 13 pretty good scary stories, culled from legends, hearsay, stories people have been told or just plain gold old imagination, which are similar to the Goosebumps! books. I enjoyed reading them, but I am not sure I will look at Christmas the same way again. The stories tell tales of snowmen who come to life, a smelly spirit who visits, a devil who comes in the guise (sort of) of Father Christmas, and Jack Frost, to name a few. The stories are short, well done and, for the most part, interesting takes on ideas, events and such I had never thought about before. I am not sure, however, whether every reader will like them because they can upset well-honed ideas and memories of the comfortable safety and joy of Christmas. These stories show anything but that. This is not your average Christmas, happily-ever-after book, but I knew that before I began reading. Nevertheless, the book is rather short, and the stories all move along quite easily and quickly, so you are done with it before you practically realize. I am sure readers, not necessarily just young adults, who enjoy this sort of thing or want something a bit different will enjoy reading this, for the stories are very well done and fascinating takes on holiday life and events that surround it . I do not normally read this genre, but I enjoyed this one. Try it. You might like it, as I did. I received this from NetGalley to read and review.
Profile Image for Sherry Ellis.
Author 8 books56 followers
February 14, 2016
Did you think Christmas was the most wonderful time of the year? Think again. Fright Before Christmas is a collection of stories from thirteen authors that show that Christmas may be the scariest time of the year. Evil Santas, menacing nutcrackers, and sinister snowmen will have readers hiding under their blankets.

This is not a book for young readers. There are no cute ghost stories here. It's all about blood, gore, and horror. If you're looking for an edgy holiday read, this is it. Recommended for young adult/adult readers.
Profile Image for DAISY READS HORROR.
964 reviews123 followers
November 19, 2018
**Received a free copy from publisher in exchange for an honest review**

Quick short story reads on Holiday horror. Some stories in this collection were better than others, which is usually the case in anthologies. I forget the name of my favorite one, but it involved killer ⛄️ snowmen. Krumpus makes an appearance in a story as well, which alone is enough to make any bad kid behave during Christmas. The Father Frost story was good too. If you’re looking for a quick read that’s different from most Christmas reads then pick this book up.
Profile Image for Deedra.
3,780 reviews19 followers
December 28, 2017
Audible:This was a 'fun' read in a frightful way.Darren Marlar was a fine narrator for the material.There are horrors,even at holiday time.I was voluntarily provided this free review copy audiobook by the author, narrator, or publisher.”
Profile Image for Crystal.
42 reviews6 followers
November 28, 2015
Great group of stories!

“The Stench of Christmas” by Lea Story – An ancestor leaves a gruesome Christmas Eve legacy. Loved the Nova Scotia setting, and I liked how much of the creepiness was off-screen, allowing the reader's imagination to fill in the blanks. Some things are scarier in your mind than on the page.

“Clockwork Christmas” by Richard Ankers – A clockwork Santa delivers a girl's gifts, and she finally gets what she's always wanted. I don't read a lot of steampunk, so I can't compare to other stories, but I found the premise pretty neat!

“Night of the Snowmen” by Laura Pauling – When these snowmen come to life, they're the antithesis of the sweet, playful Frosty. The imagery in Pauling's tale reminds me of the eerie feeling of being out in the snow at night—cold and creepy.

“North Pole Coal” by Patrick Hueller – Gross! This story made my stomach turn. A naughty boy gets coal in his stocking. He's pretty lucky. Jimmy got worse.

“Bigfoot Busters” by Jackie Horsfall – A tension-filled search for the elusive Bigfoot. This story was super fast-paced with a fun MG voice and great writing.

“Finders Keepers” by Boyd Reynolds – A greedy boy gets a Christmas Eve visit from Krampus. I'm a big fan of the Krampus myth, and the doll in this story gave me the creeps. *shivers*

“Frosted” by Ally Matthews – Two brothers go out into the woods to find Father Frost. I loved the set-up for this story—a Russian folk tale told by the brothers' Babushka. Matthews really made me care about the characters, which made the older brother's callousness especially chilling. This was one of my favorites in the collection.

“The Carol” by Jessica Bayliss – Fun story about a music teacher who accidentally summons a trickster spirit! It was nice to get a slightly light-hearted horror story in the mix (can a horror story be light-hearted? lol). Great middle-grade voice, with a very sweet ending.

“The Tell-Tale Scarf” by Judith Graves – Interesting spin on the Poe classic! A boy with a secret, and a haunted house that wants to see him punished. It was hard to tell how much of this creep-fest was in the narrator's head and how much was real—and I think that was the point.

“The Tradition” by Andrea Stanet – I had no idea what to expect with this story, and I really enjoyed it! A girl convinces her family to continue their annual tradition of Christmas in a Catskills cabin. I don't want to say anything else because I don't want to give anything away! Clever premise and great execution! Another one of my favorites.

“Die, Nutcracker, Die!” by Dax Varely – I really LOVED this story! High tension all the way through—very quick read. Varely sets up the conflict right away and delivers a fantastically creepy tale of an antique Nutcracker out for blood. One of my favorites!

“Machete Santa” by Medeia Sharif – This one was a fun read! It is exactly what you would hope for from a story named “Machete Santa,” lol. Had the feel of a slasher B-movie—kind of cheesy but in a really enjoyable way.

“Saturn Rising” by Ty Drago – Exciting, well-paced story to cap off the collection. This one explores what can happen when new traditions overtake the old—spoiler: scary, scary stuff!

**I was a part of the release blitz for this book and received a free ARC.
Profile Image for Pop Bop.
2,475 reviews101 followers
December 6, 2015
Pretty Intense - These are Definitely Horror, not Funsy Ghosty, Stories

The foreward to this book reminds the reader that Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" is, after all, a ghost story. That kind of intro always suggests to me that we are in for a bit of Christmas themed Victorian bump-in-the-night whimsy. Not so.

The body count builds up fairly quickly as you read through this anthology. SPOILER EXAMPLES. When naughty boys get "white coal" in their stockings, it is a bit bracing to discover that this white coal is the cremated remains of especially naughty disappeared children. A battle between kids and evil snowmen reads like a short version of the Battle of Agincourt. As I say, intense.

That's not at all a bad thing, but be aware. These stories are exceptionally well written, and pack a lot of punch into little packages. The premises are clever, and while there are a few tales that just sort of never catch fire, most of the stories are compelling grabbers. There are a few lessons to be learned here about greed and the like, and a few are just out there, (I never learned why the snowmen turned on their creators), but the main thrust is chilling horror, with maybe a Christmas tree and a happy ending somewhere in the background. And, of course, a machete wielding Santa.

Most of the heroes, heroines, victims, and learners of hard lessons are in the middle grade age range. The stories are told in a wide variety of voices, and most of the authors do a good job of capturing the feel of that age group. Happy endings, just desserts, and nasty endings are handed out about equally, so the collection has a nice box-of-chocolates feel.

The upshot? If your older middle grade reader likes and can handle scary stuff and if you want a Christmas theme instead of a hook-handed summer camp killer theme, this is a very solid and entertaining option.

(Please note that I received a free advance ecopy of this book in exchange for a candid review. Apart from that I have no connection at all to either the author or the publisher of this book.)
Profile Image for S.A. Larsen.
Author 8 books141 followers
January 25, 2016
Familiar holiday tales of wonder and awe, wrapped in spooky, creepy, and mysterious packages.

The collection of stories are tweaked just enough with the odd and eerie to put a new spin on beloved Christmas elements. One story will make you think twice about the true meaning of Santa's Naughty list, while another will convince you to buy an artificial tree for your living room next year.

A few tales tell of gory fates, nothing too descriptive or visual, but will leave the imagination of some readers hungry for more. The family unit is included in some, diversity in dynamics and interactions too! There's life lessons for everyone; granted, a few are far-fetched, but fun and lessons nonetheless. The creativity is clever, inventive, and thought-provoking. And there's suspense, too, with creatures stalking a group of kids or an army of snowmen knocking on your door.

'K pause, An army of snowmen knocking on my door... Get a visual? #shivers

The writing is clear and concise. There are stories such as Bigfoot Busters and North Pole Coal that flow with a distinct and crisp voice. Others showcase fantastical details like Frosted.

I really enjoyed this collection's wit, plausibility, and hair-raising twists on familiar holiday songs, customs, and even food. ;) On aspect I want to point out is that some of the tales dug deep into little known facts of Christmas' past and what the holiday was prior to our modern day. It was kind of a history lesson, and I know for, it made me want to know more.
Profile Image for Lindsey Lewis.
750 reviews13 followers
March 17, 2016
I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley. I was not compensated in any other fashion for the review and the opinions reflected below are entirely my own. Special thanks to the publisher and author for providing the copy.

Fright Before Christmas contains 13 stories that twist Christmas traditions into spooky nightmares for middle grade readers.

The stories themselves are very creative and very short and contain both twists on classic tales and new concepts. There are a variety of monsters, some typical like the Abominable Snowman and Krampus/evil Santas, while others are not-so-typical like evil nutcrackers, evil snowmen, and an evil Jack Frost who freezes naughty children. There were multiple stories with evil Santa, but each of them were unique and fun to read. There are not a whole lot of happy endings going on here, so as always with the horror genre, if your mini-me is a scaredy-cat, take caution.

Fright Before Christmas is great for kids who like the Holidays but miss Halloween, or even for those naughty children who need a little more encouragement than a little bit of coal in their stockings.. This would be a wonderful stocking stuffer for little horror fans.
Profile Image for Mason.
Author 2 books23 followers
December 1, 2015
A group of talented authors have compiled 13 amazing tales to give you a different perspective on holiday stories this season.

FRIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS: 13 Tales of Holiday Horrors will have you smiling just before you lose your breath when a twist throws you off ground.

Each author has masterfully penned a tale relating to the Christmas holiday, but with a naughty twist. These tantalizing tales include such stories as: Machette Santa by Medeia Sharif, North Pole Coal by Patrick Hueller, Frosted by Ally Mathews, and The Tell-Tale Scarf by Judith Graves to name a few. The stories will have you rethinking how you relate to holiday activities.

Geared toward middle grade readers, this anthology will entertain and delight readers of all ages. FRIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS will become a family favorite read for the holidays. These stories will draw you in and hold you captive until the very end.

FTC Full Disclosure – A copy of this book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review. The thoughts are completely my own and given honestly and freely.
Profile Image for Susan Swiderski.
Author 3 books37 followers
December 15, 2015
Okay, so if you're looking for something to stir up some warm fuzzy Christmas feelings, you'd better go watch one of those old schmaltzy movies we all know and love, because you sure aren't gonna find them in any of these stories. Not unless the idea of a machete-wielding Santa or an ultra-creepy nutcracker with homicidal tendencies gives you a warm holiday glow, that is. Nope, the warmest thing in these stories is the blood oozing out of bodies. But what can I say? Each of these stories is entertaining, and imaginatively creepy. And short. The whole book makes for very fast, and very entertaining, reading. Looking for a little something out of the ordinary to read this holiday season? This is it!

I'd give it four and a half stars. (I took off half a star for giving this old lady nightmares. HA!)

Profile Image for Rick Starkey.
Author 6 books9 followers
January 1, 2016
How did I spend my free time over the Christmas holiday? Sneaking in story after story from Fright Before Christmas.

From Big Foot to Santa, and even a nutso Nutcracker, this collection has a lot going for it. Some of the stories are creepy fun, and some are creepy make-you-think long after you turn the page.

I would recommend this collection for any middle grade reader who enjoys, and can handle, a good scare. I would also recommend this to the young adult and adult readers who want a fun escape.

Though Christmas is over for this year, this is a great book for anytime if you enjoy scary stories.

I received a copy of this ebook from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Stephanie Faris.
Author 18 books90 followers
December 7, 2015
Fright Before Christmas: 13 Tales of Holiday Horrors has 13 great horror stories with a Christmas theme. While I was reading these stories, I couldn't help but think that many of them represented a child's worst nightmares. My favorites were Medeia Sharif's story, about a video game that evokes a very evil Santa, Ally Matthews' story about two brothers who venture into the cold forest to test out a legend, and Patrick Hueller's story about a little boy who gets coal in his stocking...and learns he's lucky--really bad boys don't get to see Christmas morning. Every one of these stories was a true page turner. I found that I couldn't wait to read the next story.
4,591 reviews15 followers
November 1, 2016
I found this collection a good read as well as a good scare. Some you thought about even after reading the last page. The stories are short but give all the information that is needed. From looking for Bigfoot or a video game who brings an evil Santa, or a bad boy getting a visit from Krampus. Also a boy getting coal in his stocking that was a better gift then some got. Also a music teacher brings a spirit into existence, to a haunted house and a boy. Then an ancestor who caused a not so enjoyable Christmas Eve tradition and more. As I said a lot of short stories but really good and I recommend.
Profile Image for Michelle.
264 reviews67 followers
March 8, 2016
A collection of tiny and twisted tales...filled with terror!
They are short and pack a punch!

Stories include the following: a "fleshy" debt; vindictive snowmen on a murderous mission; an eerie clockwork man; an antique book and evil Christmas carol; a sinister scarf that takes on a life of its own; hundreds of evil crows; a machete-wielding Santa; a demon-possessed nutcracker, and many more, that will push your imagination into overdrive and have you quaking in your boots! *shudders*

Great entertainment!
But I'm not sure if this is for tweens or adults?
Profile Image for Kristine Hall.
827 reviews43 followers
December 4, 2015
What a fun bunch of spooky stories. Frights range from subtle eeriness to outright scares. Each of the 13 stories is short and well-written, and middle-graders and older will likely get a kick out of them. Three tales stood out above the others. Full review posts 12/4/15 on Hall Ways http://kristinehallways.blogspot.com/...

Thank you to Leap Books for providing me an eBook copy in exchange for my honest opinion -- the only kind I give.
Profile Image for David H.
4 reviews
January 25, 2016
I received this book via LibraryThing as part of their monthly Early Reviewer program.

The anthology is aimed at Middle grade readers. Each of the short stories are quick, uncomplicated reads which deliver a darker side to the typically upbeat Christmas. They all pack a punch as they close their story and are very entertaining. A perfect reminder that frights should continue even at Christmas, and what you wish for may not always be what you want.
Profile Image for Emily.
504 reviews4 followers
February 3, 2016
Oddly, I actually liked these. Some were better than others, as you always get in an anthology, but I really, really enjoyed this book! The stories were short, but the last sentence always stuck with you. Totally worth the time it takes to read this. 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Profile Image for Stephen.
161 reviews2 followers
December 16, 2015
Christmas and frightening tales go together so well. This little collection of holiday frights is wonderful for the festering festive season. Seat yourself before an open fire with a warm drink and shiver with delight.
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