A collection of short horror stories and poems resurrect the spirit of the Gothic Blue Book. Gothic Blue Books were short Gothic fictions popular in the 18th and 19th century.
Burial Day Books presents its sixth Gothic Blue Book, A Krampus Carol. A Krampus Carol is a celebration of folklore and myth around Christmas, Yule, the cold winter months and Santa Claus’ opposite, Krampus.
Authors: The Aspirant Heiress by Deanna Baran The Night of Epiphany by Nico Bell When the Leaves Go by Die Booth Yule Log by T.M. Brown Candy Cane by Jeff Carter The Boy Who Tricked Krampus by Malina Douglas Sugarplum by Kevin M. Folliard A Creature Was Stirring by Samson Stormcrow Hayes Black Lace Binding by Laurel Hightower Letters to Krampus by Matt Jean I Am a Fortress by Shane Douglas Keene All Through the House by Amanda Cecelia Lang Secret Santa by Gary E Lee A Desk Fit for a Purpose by Madeleine McDonald A Very Good Actress by Sarah Michelson After Krampusnacht by Victoria Nations When She Visits by Cindy O’Quinn The Path by Kathleen Palm The Last Noel by Hailey Piper Queen of the Wassail by Jennifer Quail The Wreath by Monique Quintana All Quiet on the Northern Front by Kara Race-Moore Cast Away Stones by Mary Rajotte Hell’s Bells by C L Raven The Holly King’s Spawn by Sage Ravenwood Creature of Darkness by Lawrence Salani Christmas Eve by K.R. Smith Krampus by Austrian Spencer The Dark-Eyed Boy by M.C. St. John Here We Come A-Caroling by Angela Sylvaine The Yule Cat by Sara Tantlinger
Cynthia “Cina” Pelayo is two-time Bram Stoker Awards® nominated poet and author. She is the author of LOTERIA, SANTA MUERTE, THE MISSING, and POEMS OF MY NIGHT, all of which have been nominated for International Latino Book Awards. POEMS OF MY NIGHT was also nominated for an Elgin Award. Her recent collection of poetry, INTO THE FOREST AND ALL THE WAY THROUGH explores true crime, that of the epidemic of missing and murdered women in the United States. Her modern day horror retelling of the Pied Piper fairy tale, CHILDREN OF CHICAGO will be released by Agora Books on 2/9/21. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, a Master of Science in Marketing, a Master of Fine Arts in Writing, and is a Doctoral Candidate in Business Psychology. Cina was raised in inner city Chicago, where she lives with her husband and children. Find her online at www.cinapelayo.com and on Twitter @cinapelayo.
4 1/2 stars but I'm going to do something I rarely do and bump it up because this book was such a joy to read.
This is a beautifully curated collection of winter horrors. It’s called A Krampus Carol but only a few of the stories featured that gorgeous horned beast, and that worked for me because I fear a collection consisting solely of Krampus tales might’ve been a wee bit too much Krampus - even for me! Instead, we get a nice mix of gorgeous dark poetry, folklorish creatures, and tales that should be read by a fireplace on a dark wintery night. Too bad I don’t have one, haha! I adored this book so much. Like any collection of this size, I enjoyed some stories more than others but there were no duds, and you know I’d tell you if there were. With that said, I’m focusing on my favorites because if I try to talk about them all this review will be over 1400 words long and no one’s here for that. I honestly had such a difficult time choosing my favorites but that is the best sort of struggle, right?
The Aspirant Heiress by Deanna Baran This story is the first and it sets an immediate mood. It’s an eerie tale about a young nun in training who is called back home because she’s now an heiress to a fortune. I loved the setting, the atmosphere, the gothic goings-on, everything about it. It immediately feels like you’ve taken a step back in time and you might never want to leave. This one hit all the right notes for me.
The Night of Epiphany by Nico Bell Anna wants to spend time with her friends on their senior trip but her family has an annual tradition they call Epiphany. Anna plots to make this the final one - and risks the wrath of the mythical witch they must appease. This is a story about the importance of keeping traditions alive. Just like the previous story, this one excels at setting a mood and I think it may just be my favorite mood ever. The one where I walk into the deep dark woods and scream at the sky forever.
When the Leaves Go by Die Booth A young fellow trying to escape visiting relatives goes for a walk and spies a shop he’s never noticed before. He steps inside and discovers that this is a place that has something for everyone - even your homophobic prick of a cousin and it’s also a place where everyone gets what they deserve. This is a whimsical dream of a story. I sound like a stuck record but this collection is so incredibly ethereal and lovely. This story was a definite favorite.
Yule Log by T.M. Brown Oh how this story made me laugh but it’s also SO incredibly sad. How did the author manage this? It’s haunting and terribly amusing all at the same time, that’s some mad skill.
The Boy Who Tricked Krampus by Malina Douglas This is a delightfully macabre tale about a naughty little boy who has an excellent, if maybe not so well thought out, plan to trick Krampus into showing up and wielding his whip. I’m definitely not a fan of bratty kids but I loved this devilish little punk!
Sugarplum by Kevin M. Folliard A businessman in no rush to return home to the wife and kiddies, steps into a little tavern where sweet drinks are poured, and secrets are revealed and where one gets what one deserves if you’re asking me. 😹. This was another fun one for me to read!
A Creature Was Stirring by Samson Stormcrow Hayes A greedy little boy concocts a plan to snatch all the toys from Santa. And let me tell ya, this is a terrible idea when you’re in a Krampus anthology! This one made me laugh even though it’s pretty damn dark. But maybe don’t be such a greedy Gus, kiddos 😳
Black Lace Binding by Laurel Hightower A woman making a very important life decision searches for a special book from her childhood, one that spilled secrets and caused her great guilt. The dread builds slowly here. I love how all of these stories, though different in mood and content, are all written through the same otherworldly, beautifully gothic-tinged lens. This is another of my favorites.
The Path by Kathleen Palm This is quite a little nightmare of a tale about a young boy consumed by righteous rage. He feels he must protect his sister and his mom from their hateful stepdad no matter the cost. This one may break your heart if you sit in it too long.
The Last Noel by Hailey Piper & Hells Bells by C.L. Raven Oooh yikes! These stories pull no punches, To say too much will ruin these dark gems for you. So I won’t. But trust me you should all be reading this book!
Krampus by Austrian Spencer Holy hell this story was a horrifying blend of modern technology and ancient terror. This one is pure nightmare fuel. Yikes but oh how I loved its dark energy!
The Dark-Eyed Boy by M.C. St. John A man harbors a terrifying childhood secret. Sometimes it’s really hard for some of us to be good every damn moment and this fella has a debt to pay. This is another pitch-black gem that gets everything perfectly right.
Atmospheric dark fairytales, pure unfiltered evil, touches of whimsy and humor - if any of this sounds good to you quick go grab yourself a copy!
Gothic Blue Book: A Krampus Carol edited by Cynthia Pelayo and Gerardo Pelayo has a TOC featuring some amazing writers including Laurel Hightower, Hailey Piper, Austrian Spencer, Sarah Tantlinger, Nicole Bell, Shane Douglas Keene and so many more fan favorites in the indie horror community. I am a massive fan of folklore. It is often a compelling read, casting a spell on me, engulfing my attention from beginning to end. That is certainly the case with this book as well. This collection is a must have.
"A collection of short horror stories and poems resurrect the spirit of the Gothic Blue Book. Gothic Blue Books were short Gothic fictions popular in the 18th and 19th century."
That's a description that really caught my eye, so when I was offered an ARC, I jumped on the chance and here we are. This anthology has something for everyone, but the connecting thread is Krampus. Who knew these authors could come up with such a variety of stories around this theme? Following are just a few that stood out for me:
THE ASPIRANT HEIRESS by Deanna Baran. A nasty little tale about a wicked stepmother.
A CREATURE WAS STIRRING by Samson Stormcrow Hayes. A tale about a naughty little boy and his cereal.
BLACK LACE BINDING by Laurel Hightower. What reader doesn't love a story about a book?
LETTERS TO KRAMPUS by Matt Jean. You can't trust a little boy to do the right thing when presents are involved!
ALL QUIET ON THE NORTHERN FRONT by Kara Race-Moore. Two sets of soldiers meet Krampus in a bombed out convent. (Krampus is everywhere!)
CHRISTMAS EVE by K.R. Smith. A sad tale about a woman traveling alone with her child through the ice and snow….to a convent.
KRAMPUS by Austrian Spencer. Swipe left for NICE!
HERE WE COME A-CAROLING by Angela Sylvaine. Don't let them hear you sing. This tale knocked me out!
There are several other stories here and some poems as well, featuring WHEN SHE VISITS by Cindy O'Quinn, I AM A FORTRESS by Shane Douglas Keene, and Sara Tatlinger's THE YULE CAT among others, all of them varying degrees of good and great.
I see no way for any fan of dark fiction to dislike this widely varied collection. There truly is something here for everyone! Cheers to Cynthia and Gerardo Pelayo, who curated this volume. It features authors both known and novices, and tales both naughty and nice.
Something for everyone on this amazing collection of stories by some of the most popular authors in horror today! Not every story has Krampus or even take place on Christmas so don’t let the tile of the book mislead you. Monsters, supernatural and demons afoot every story or poem is a new adventure. Some dark, some funny (well humor, as horror stories go) some will bring you to tears. Highly recommended! Make this book your holiday vacation read and enjoy some of the best stories you’ll find all year. Enjoy and Happy Holidays!
A mix of truly excellent stories and poems. I do have a soft spot for poetry and those chosen really helped break up the book. I loved the stark rawness of Shane Douglas Keene's 'I am a Fortress', the prose poetry of Cindy O'Quinn's vengeful tale of 'When She Visits' and the heartbreak of 'All Through the House' by Amanda Cecilia Lang. Favourite stories include 'Sugarplum' by Kevin M. Folliard, 'Black Lace Binding' by Laurel Hightower, 'When the Leaves Go' by Die Booth and 'The Last Noel' by Hailey Piper. That said, I really enjoyed all the stories and there wasn't a bad one among them.
I received A Krampus Carol: Gothic Blue Book VI in exchange for a fair review. I was so excited to read this collection, as the winter season often comes with its own lore and traditions. Many of the tales in this work surround the figure of Krampus, while others pull on the emotions of the Christmas season, as well as pagan rituals surrounding Yule. There are 31 stories, one for every day of December. This is a collection that is best read at night, by your tree or a fire, with some hot cocoa. Just make sure the windows are closed, you don’t want Krampus sneaking in from the cold. I will talk about my favorite stories here.
The Night of Epiphany by Nico Bell A girl and her father are celebrating Epiphany in the Austrian countryside. When the girl is frustrated with carrying on her late mother’s traditions, she meets the mysterious Frau Perchta, and learns the consequence of breaking tradition. I loved the winter atmosphere in this story. I have often dreamt of spending a wintry night in a cabin in the countryside, a festival occurring in the local town, the tree lit up in the corner, and a fire and feast waiting in the next room. However, I am not in the business of getting in trouble with Frau Perchta. The atmosphere was amazingly written in this story , and it is a reminder to always keep your family traditions, no matter how ancient they are.
When the Leaves Go by Die Booth A young man is not looking forward to seeing his family this Christmas, but sets out to find a gift for a homophobic cousin he could care less about anyway. He happens upon a strange shop, with an odd person and unique gifts. Maybe Christmas won’t turn out so bad this year. This is a relatable story for many people who are fed up with family bigots, and a unique tale by Booth.
Sugarplum by Kevin M. Folliard A man on business in England is stalling his trip home, almost hoping his flight gets cancelled. He is unhappy in his marriage, untruthful, and seems like all around a shitty person. He stops in a bar for a drink, where the bar owner offers him a special drink, slightly purple in hue, called Sugarplum. Soon he begins spilling the truth, and he finds he may get his wish, he might not be going home after all. I loved the setting of this. I always imagine there are people out there, alone at a bar getting drunk on Christmas Eve, bitching about the ones that love them, cursing the world. The catch here was that this bar was waiting for just that person. A truly delicious and sweet tale.
A Creature was Stirring by Samson Stormcrow Hayes The next tale that really stuck with me was the one directly after. This collection would not be complete without a mischievous child wanting to get a glimpse of Santa. When he sneaks downstairs, and opens a box of Krampus Krunch, he knows something is off. A cautionary tale for those looking to stay up and wait for Santa. Truly enjoyed this take on some classic Krampus. It is a strong staple in the collection.
Letters to Krampus by Matt Jean A naughty child thinks he is pulling one over on Santa this year, little does he know Krampus has other plans in store. I’m loving all of these Krampus tales, each different from the other, but all of them so enjoyable. In this story two brothers are trying to hide from Krampus, and just when you think the oldest brother couldn’t be much naughtier, he takes it up one more notch. Matt Jean gave a nice twist in the end of this tale.
A Very Good Actress by Sarah Michelson An aspiring actress takes a job for the holiday as a nanny. The family she is working for is spending time at their beach house. She vows to give her all in this role as “nanny”. Eventually she beings to lose herself, but will she fully let herself go? Although this wasn’t a specifically Christmas themed tale, it takes place during the bleak winter season, and I really enjoyed that. Many times during the winter those gray days can be tough, but what happens when the darkness calls to you? Loved this tale. I felt like I was there at this wintry ocean. A perfect, moody story.
Christmas Eve by K.R. Smith A woman and her child are journeying through the cold to reach the warmth of a nunnery. Along the way she is tempted by Krampus to give up her child. I enjoyed this tale of strength and love, mixed along with of course, horror!
All of the writers of this collection worked very hard to create these amazing stories. Cynthia and Gerardo Pelayo, the owners of Burial Day, also curated an excellent collection, and I am looking forward to reading much more from Burial Day!
*This book was kindly sent to me in exchange for an honest review*
This collections of stories are inspired by the stories that were often seen in the 18th and 19th centuries. You can definitely tell that the gothic genre is very prevalent throughout. I mean its even in the name of the book, so expect to feel that gothic horror vibe. There are 31 stories and poems inside this collection, all dealing with Christmas and the winter months as a whole. Some involve witches, vampires, otherworldly beings, demons, and of course the main demon of the season Krampus. Krampus is a horned, half demon half goat, who punishes bad children during Christmas time. He’s basically the anti Santa, Santa rewards the good kids with presents and Krampus punishes the bad ones. Some of my favorite stories of the bunch were: The Night of Epiphany, Black Lace Binding, Letters to Krampus, A Desk Fit for a Purpose, The Last Noel, The Dark- Eyed Boy, and Here We Come A-Caroling.
This is my first Christmas themed horror book I’ve ever read and I’m so disappointed that I haven’t been reading them every year. This is such a fun collection of stories and poems. I liked every single story I read in this book and I was so sad to see the end. It felt like Christmas every time I got to start a new story because each story felt like a wonderful present. I wasn’t sure what I was going to get, but I always ended up satisfied. For having 31 different writings all under 200 pages is crazy! I actually didn’t know how many stories/ poems were in there, but I didn’t feel like it dragged on or felt like too much. In fact, most of the stories were really short and just got straight to the point. It was actually a really nice pace and it didn’t feel rushed or felt like it was dragging. I was also surprised with so many different authors how well the stories flowed together and seemed really cohesive. You could tell that they each had a different voice and writing style, but it worked well and didn’t feel all over the place or disjointed. The stories that featured Krampus were definitely the most fun, just because I’m really fascinated with Krampus and I haven’t read much involving the Christmas demon. I feel like I’m always surprised with gothic horror, since I don’t read too much of it, I kinda forget about it. But I need to make it a habit of picking up more books featuring it because I always end up enjoying the plots. I’m thinking I need to check out every one of the Gothic Blue Books because I enjoyed this so much and I feel like I just need more.
A Krampus Carol is the 6th book in the Gothic Blue Book collection and is made up of various stories by various authors. I first picked this up because when I put out a call for Christmas Books of all genres, CL Raven mentioned that they were in this book.
The book contains 31 stories, and a section about each author at the end of the book. Now, usually when I read a collection, there will be stories that just don’t hit me right and stories that aren’t to my taste, so it’s easy enough to weedle them down to just a few to talk about on my review. On this occasion however, I hit a stumbling block. There are no stories in this book that I didn’t like, they’re all written very well and each has it’s own charm. So, after a few days I’d managed to weedle my favourites down to 18 stories, which I suspect you would agree that is still a lot of stories to talk about on a review!
I have now, finally, chosen a handful of titles to mention to you today, I do heartily recommend taking a look at this book yourself however because it really is a great book and the stories are wonderful. There are some things in this book which I’d never heard mention of before but which seem like such a great way to look at a situation. Funnily enough I actually read two stories by two different authors which had a similar idea (one in this book, and one on the Sinister Advent Calendar, which I’ve covered daily through December) but they were still very different stories and that leads me to the first story I’ll tell you about;
Secret Santa by Gary E Lee is a tale of caution, everyone knows you’re not allowed to stay up and see Santa Claus, but nobody really knows why. This tale will show you the dangers of seeing that which you should never see. I usually try to say as little as possible about short stories for fear of spoiling them, but I figure there are enough stories in this book that I’m not talking about, to allow the reader to have plenty of surprise. Plus this isn’t going to tell you the whole story and you still need to read it in order to find out why what happens, happens and what it means. So I figure I’m safe here. The thing I liked about this story is that the child who remains awake and tries to steal a glance at Santa Claus is left marked, there was something about that that I really liked, and the imagery in this story works really well too.
The other thing I really like about this book is that it includes legends and traditions which I hadn’t really heard of before. Being from England and not really having any outside influences of that, my parents lived in Germany for a time but as British soldiers they lived on an army base so it wasn’t really a case of living in the German Traditions, and aside from that I had no influences in my life to teach me other traditions really. So reading The Night of Epiphany by Nico Bell was a really nice way to meet with a new name I hadn’t heard, this story centres around a being called Frau Perchta, having looked this up, according to Jacob Grimm (1882), Perchta was a white robed goddess who oversaw spinning and weaving, like the myths of Holda. He believed she was the feminine equivalent of Berchtold, and sometimes led the wild hunt. In Bell’s story, the character Anna is fed up of carrying out the tradition of the Night of Epiphany and wants to move on with her life, away from superstition and what she thinks is silly traditions. There is caution in this tale readers, for some traditions are there for a reason.
Following on from what I just said about traditions and legends of other culture, there is one closer to home in the story Hell’s Bells by CL Raven. CL Raven are a pair of welsh horror writing twins who specialise in gothic horror. Their stories are always fabulous and something I liked about this one is that I learned something. A huge part of reading, even if you’re reading fiction, is to learn. In this story, I learned about Mari Lwyd. As it turns out, Mari Lwyd is a wassailing folk custom found in South Wales and usually entails the use of an eponymous hobby horse, made by attaching a horse’s skull to a stick and is carried by a person hidden by a white sheet. This custom was first recorded in 1800, with subsequent accounts of it being produced in the early twentieth century. I won’t tell you any more about the tradition because it is explained in the story, but I would encourage you to look it up afterwards because it’s very interesting. CL Raven do not disappoint in their execution of this story, the imagery is very good and the story plays out smoothly. Obviously, as an English person with absolutely no idea of how to pronounce anything welsh, I absolutely murder all of the names, but luckily, I’m not reading this aloud to any audiences!
Black Lace Binding by Laurel Hightower is a brilliant little story which I very much enjoyed where a girl finds a very special kind of book in the library. Within the pages she finds a friend, as I’m sure many of us readers will have stated from time to time, but this is in a very different way. A fantastic story presented very nicely and with few characters, I really enjoyed this one. While the concept seems simple, due to less characters being involved, I can only imagine it’s entirely the opposite of simple when it comes to sitting down to write it. The thing with less characters, is that you can’t rely on dialogue to carry your story and you have to make it interested and atmospheric. I think those things were achieved here.
When the Leaves Go by Die Booth follows more of a fantasy vibe (I know, in regards to a book about Santa, Krampus and other Christmas Demons I just said fantasy like it was going to be a surprise, but read it, you’ll see what I mean) we’ve all been there, Christmas is a time for family, which often means spending that special day with people you can’t stand and don’t even speak to for most of the year, and before anybody I’m related to pipes up, I’m not saying mine were like that! But this Character’s are, and he finds a shop where he collects an item to give to his cousin. That’s about as much as I can tell you without spoiling it for you, but the item isn’t necessarily the most innocent of trinkets, shall we say?
Yule Log by TM Brown covers the subject of plague & sickness at Christmas. I enjoyed the imagery of this story and all of the things which happen. The description is fantastic, and it is oddly festive considering the sombre tone.
All Quiet on the Northern Front by Kara Race-Moore was a brilliant story, this one is set during war time and the ending packs a punch that really hits home. I especially liked this one, because I’ve recently played a game on steam, and finished it a few times, set in the same place as this story. So the imagery of this story along with the memory of the artwork in that game really tied into one another nicely. It’s not very often you’ll see someone go there with a war story in a Christmas anthology but it was refreshing to see. It shouldn’t be something we skirt around and avoid talking about, it happened, it’s part of our history and it should be included. Particularly in this kind of book. It just fits.
Interestingly enough, one which I wasn’t expecting to like really turned around. Krampus by Austrian Spencer actually started off with such a different tone to the rest of the stories, and language which I hadn’t been expecting after the others that my initial reaction was that I wouldn’t like it, but actually, it is a good story. Although this may be surprising, I hadn’t really seen or read that much about Krampus, so this year is the most I’ve ever really heard about him. I really enjoyed this one because it’s different to the other stories I’ve watched or read this year.
If a story hasn’t been mentioned here, it isn’t that I didn’t enjoy it, I very much enjoyed every story in this book and actually some of the stories I didn’t mention, that’s just because they’re not as easy to talk about as these ones are. Sometimes it’s difficult to talk about a story without saying too much.
*Disclaimer – I received free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*
Capturing the atmosphere and the traditional feeling of the story of Krampus, a northern European myth and legend, is no easy feat and yet A Krampus Carol manages it time and time again. With over thirty dark tales of yuletide horror, many featuring the horned demon directly, and a contributors list of many diverse and accomplished authors, this is one collection that will become a staple of my end of year readings.
Throughout this collection there is an emphasis on traditional folklore, on cold winter nights, and on the monsters that can stalk them when the veil is just thin enough. In the story ‘The Night of Epiphany’ by Nico Bell readers are treated to a YA story of grief and family traditions, where deviating from her late mother’s usual Christmas plans could stand to be deadly. ‘Candy Cane’ by Jeff Carter is a short, sharp, and more abstract tale of the dangers of bullying. Or, if you prefer to can delve into a more more modern take on the idea of the naughty list with Austrian Spencer’s story ‘Krampus’ which is a bleak and yet comical story of an app out of control.
This was certainly a collection that extended the Christmas atmosphere for me at the end of December, and one that I am sure will give readers a dark and cosy reading experience into the new year as well.
A Krampus Carol is a stellar collection of yuletide horror sure to give any horror fans chills that have little to do with the winter season.
Burial Day Books, owned by Cynthia and Gerardo Pelayo published the anthology The Gothic Blue Book VI: A Krampus Carol in 2011. Patterned after the short fiction collections popular in the 18th and 19th centuries, this compilation of over 30 tales and poems focuses on the winter holidays, with special attention paid to the terrifying folk character, Krampus. Included in this star-studded TOC are:
The Aspirant Heiress by Deanna Baran is a Victorian-styled tale of plotting and murder with an intelligent lead. The Night of Epiphany by Nico Bell tells of the loss of a beloved mother and introduces the demonic Perchta who searches for people who don’t follow her rules. **When the Leaves Go by Die Booth enchanted me, with its otherworldly charm and misunderstood protagonist. Yule Log by T.M. Brown tells of plague, last rites, and the importance of light in the darkest times. Candy Cane by Jeff C. Carter is a short piece about the importance of belief - and good behaviour. The Boy Who Tricked Krampus by Malina Douglas dives into a wealth of Germanic lore Sugarplum by Kevin M. Folliard joins a businessman who made a stop at a pub on the way to the airport and a flight home to his waiting family A Creature Was Stirring by Samson Stormcrow Hayes illustrates why it’s best to be on the nice list Black Lace Binding by Laurel Hightower provides a mysterious book in the library of a not-haunted house Letters to Krampus by Matt Jean entreats the Christmas character to take away a misbehavor. I Am a Fortress by Shane Douglas Keene is a poem of ancient gods and winter magic All Through the House by Amanda cecilia Lang uses the rhythm of ‘The Night Before Christmas’ to tell of domestic abuse Secret Santa by Gary E. Lee tells of the cost of curiosity A Desk Fit for a Purpose by Madeleine McDonald offers a bit of holiday trickery A Very Good Actress by Sarah Michelson takes place at a beach house during the winter solstice After Krampusnacht by Victoria Nations stays close to the sea, with a woman troubled by her boyfriend, her coworker, and the fabled dealer of birch switches When She Visits by Cindy O’Quinn is a poetic haunting\ The Path by Kathleen Palm, where “sad stockings hang by threads of hope over a cold fireplace,” and Christmas seems to last forever, a troubled boy makes a heartbreaking choice The Last Noel by Hailey Piper starred a truly kick-butt big sister *Queen of the Wassail by Jennifer Quail is a nasty piece of folk horror The Wreath by Monique Quintana protected All Quiet on the Northern Front by Kara Race-Moore found Krampus in a convent in the war zone Cast Away Stones by Mary Rajotte tells a wicked folk horror tale set in Scotland. Hell’s Bells by C.L. Raven tells of the Welsh Mari Llwyd The Holly King’s Spawn by Sage Ravenwood is a poem of pagan seasons Creature of Darkness by Lawrence Salani tells of Australia’s hot and murderous Christmas *Christmas Eve by K.R. Smith involves a desperate mother protecting her small boy from the weather - and something worse Krampus by Austrian Spencer presents a particularly nasty app The Dark-Eyed Boy by M. C. St John, where “A nightmare only becomes real, the old saying goes, if it’s told to someone else.” is a tale of twins, balance, and righting wrongs Here We Come A-Caroling by Angela Sylvaine has sinister performers The Yule Cat by Sara Tantlinger is a poem
Although all of the stories in this excellent anthology were good, my favorites were Christmas Eve by K.R. Smith, Queen of Wassail by Jennifer Quail, and especially When the Leaves Go by Die Booth.
**Review originally posted HERE on Sci-Fi & Scary.**
3.5 stars rounded up.
Around Christmastime, I turn into the sappiest of saps. I love the cheesy Hallmark Christmas movies, the old-timey carols, and the fluffy holiday romcom books. But…I’m still me, and I still love my horror, so I needed to find a nice balance between the spooky and the cheesy. Enter: A Krampus Carol.
A Krampus Carol is an anthology featuring lots of deliciously dark holiday themed horror. Of course, many of the stories feature the titular baddie, Krampus, but the stories span several different cultures and traditions. You’ve got Mari Lwyd, vampires, the Yule Cat…there’s a lot of variety to the horror in these stories, which I appreciated.
Of course, being an anthology, there were some very strong entries and some that were a little more “meh.” There weren’t really any out and out bad stories in the collection, but unfortunately the majority of them did fall closer to the meh category for me. Sadly, a lot of the stories featuring Krampus fell into that zone – while they were decently written, many of them followed the same generic “bad kid gets punished” narrative with not much meat on the bone. There were a couple notable exceptions though, namely “The Boy Who Tricked Krampus” by Malina Douglas and “The Dark-Eyed Boy” by M.C. St. John. Both of these stories still used the general Krampus myth, but I felt like they added a more unique spin to it. St. John’s story in particular was one of my favourites in the collection; I appreciated the blend of the traditional German myth with some modern, almost fairy tale-esque elements.
Some of the other standouts in the collection were “When the Leaves Go” by Die Booth, which features a dark sort of whimsy that really worked for me; “Yule Log” by T.M. Brown, which felt a little bit like A Christmas Carol, but make it plaguey; “Black Lace Binding” by Laurel Hightower, a wonderfully gothic entry into the collection; and “Hell’s Bells” by C.L. Raven, a very dark spin on the Welsh legend of Mari Lwyd.
While the collection isn’t without its flaws and could have maybe used a last round of proofreading before going out into the world, I did enjoy my time with A Krampus Carol. There’s quite a range of horror contained within these pages, and I think most readers will find something that appeals within these pages. As far as general anthologies go, this isn’t my absolute favourite, but I did like it and it was a fun, festive horror read.
I've never reviewed an anthology collection before, so when Burial Day Books reached out for a review, I was happy to accept!
This is definitely an anthology for those who are already semi-versed in some of the darker folk tales surrounding Christmas. Obviously the themes of Krampus snatching children will be easy to pick up, but there are also other yuletide goblins that the casual reader may not be aware of. I felt the confusion most keenly reading the poems about the different creatures. But if you're aware of them, then it'll be nice to see the concepts taken in such different ways.
As the whole point of Krampus is "be good or the boogeyman will get you" a large majority of the stories are morality tales. Most of them are fairly straight forward: young boy being a little brat to everyone gets what he deserves. Some are particularly well thought out, as with Krampus in WWI. And some are iffy, such as the boy acting out because of abuse.
There were a lot of winter-based stories that were more stories that took place around the holidays as opposed to stories that dealt with the holidays directly, but they still maintained a good, creepy ambience. And there's a nice mix of happy endings versus sad endings, so how the story will end never feels like a given. There were a few times that I could figure out the twist early on, but it never took me out of the story.
All in all, Yuletide-horror is probably a fairly niche area for most readers. But if you're that kind of reader, this will hit the spot!
Full disclosure, I have a story in this anthology, but since my story is only one of 31 stories and poems, I feel I can fairly rate the rest of it.
Overall, I thought this was a great collection of stories (I wasn't as into the few poems that appear). Having just finished "The Twelve Frights of Christmas" which isn't a very good holiday anthology at all, this was an absolute delight. The stories are on point and even those that aren't about Christmas have a solid feel of winter, the solstice, the cold, and the bleak of December. There were a few stories that I thought were only okay and one I didn't like (I won't say which), but the vast majority of this book holds up. There were a few stories I really enjoyed and made me very happy. Also, for a collection called A Krampus Carol, not all of the stories are about Krampus and those that are are different enough that you don't feel as though you're reading the same type of story over and over again. I would definitely recommend this for those who enjoy darker fare for the holidays.
Gothic Blue Book VI | A Krampus Carol edited by Cynthia Pelayo & Gerardo Pelayo is an unsettling collection of short stories and poems that center around the darkness of the holiday season that is usually so jolly and bright in most movies and books.
You’re going to need a hot chocolate or two to sip while reading this one!
It was awesome to read this collection the week leading up to Christmas! But now I think I’ll go watch a cheesy Hallmark movie to lighten the mood a bit. ;-D
Horror fans, don’t miss this one for your holiday reading this year!
Full disclosure: I was given a free copy of this book from the editor in exchange for an honest review. This did not affect my rating in any way.
Full disclosure: A krampus Carol includes a short story from myself. To which, a quick note: When I wrote it, I wanted to portray an emotion of anger and helplessness that I feel is sometimes lost when writing about The five stages of grief. One finds in books that writers often skirt over the second stage, Anger, and I wanted to convey the importance of that healing process stage. A result of this is that my story is different in tone to the rest of the book, and I wished to use my goodreads review to explain the tone of my story, and to clarify why it was written as it was. This is a piece written in voice. There are so many talented writers in this book, to single their stories out would be a crime - so instead, be aware that there are some wonderful stories here, some by Bram Stoker Award nominees (finalists) at the time of me writing this, and the book is itself compiled by a Bram Stoker Award nominee. And it has a cover to die for. It was an honour to have my first short story published in this compilation. I owe Burial day big time. Buy more of their books.
Um. Not really my cup of tea. Like most anthologies of stories by different authors, there are some that are better than others. But all are morbidly depressing. Some are downright grotesque. I like a little darkness and a good scare now and then, but I need an occasional happy ending or a glimmer of hope in my scary stories. I didn't find that here.
Not all the stories here are about Krampus. If you are looking for collections of Krampus stories, I would recommend Krampusnacht: Twelve Nights of Krampus and He Sees You When He's Creepin': Tales of Krampus, both edited by Kate Wolford. There are some good stories in there, and occasionally, Krampus is even the good guy.
I have a prose poem in this anthology, but I’ll set it aside for the review.
A Krampus Carol includes much more than stories & poems about Krampus. There’s The Gothic Blue Book tradition of folklore, cemeteries, and the addition of castles, nuns, winter, and the solstice. This book covers all of those bases, and does a great job! Highly recommend! Happy reading!
I loved this book. It's quite rare to find an anthology in which I enjoy each story, but this one did it! Some of the stories feature Krampus, while others are focused on winter folklore in general or other creepy things. This will now be an annual December read for me. So much fun!