Christmas Horror Story Reading List 2014

It’s time for the 2nd Annual Christmas Horror Story list! I think we have a pretty strong batch here, spanning from 1890 to 1977. I think I’ve found a particularly strong batch of eerie Christmas stories for you this year, but if you’re looking for more, I posted two separate lists last year, which you can find at the links below:

I hope everyone has a great Christmas!

1. “The Ghost of Christmas Eve” by J.M. Barrie (1890) – The author of PETER PAN writes this story about a man who believes he’s encountered the legendary pistol-yielding ghost of a house. It’s said anyone he points the gun at dies within 12 months.

2. “The Ghost of the Blue Chamber” by Jerome K. Jerome (1891) – A nephew insists on spending Christmas Eve night in the haunted room of his uncle’s house. Every year on Christmas Eve the ghost of a man who murdered several musicians at various times appears in the room to battle the ghosts of those he callously killed in life. Sure enough, the nephew finds the murderous ghost in the room, and proceeds to chat with him. This is not so much a horror story as it is a dark comedy.

3.  “Number Ninety” by Mrs. B. M. Croker (1895) – At Christmas time a man who adamantly disbelieves in ghosts accepts a challenge to spend the night in a house so haunted its caused the two closest neighboring residences to remain empty as well. He finds himself invited to a phantom dinner party full of unwholesome guests. Something demonic pervades the house. This one is a favorite mine.

4. “The Snow” by Hugh Walpole (1929) – A woman who is continuously losing her temper with her husband starts to see his deceased ex-wife’s ghost who threatens her saying, “I warned you. This is for the last time…” The story is set during a snowy Christmas season.

5. “Smee” by A.M. Burrage (1931) – A group plays a game on Christmas Eve. It’s similar to hide and seek but done without knowing who they’re seeking. Each participant is given a folded piece of paper. Most are blank, but one has the word “Smee” on it. That person will be the hider sought by the other players. The lights are turned off, and the one designated Smee sneaks away to hide. When the signal is given, the search begins. Whenever another player is encountered they ask if they’re Smee. If they aren’t, they say so. If they are, they don’t answer, and the one that found them joins Smee while others seek them out. In this story it’s played in a darkened house, and they seem to have acquired an unknown extra player.

6. “The Crown Derby Plate” by Marjorie Bowen (1933) – Near Christmas an elderly woman travels to a nearby house where she once bought a Crown Derby set, missing a plate, from an auction. Hearing someone has recently purchased the place, she goes there hoping the plate has been found. The strange person who greets her makes her uneasy in this chilling classic.

7.  “Lucky’s Grove” by H. R. Wakefield (1940) – A tree is placed in a wealthy man’s house to serve as their Christmas tree. It was taken from an area considered to be sacred which is referred to as Lucky’s Grove. The gathered family and workers begin to see ominous creatures lurking about and start having disturbing dreams. Some even become deathly ill during the holiday celebrations that follow. One young boy fashions a beastly-looking snowman for reasons he doesn’t understand.

8. “The Chimney” by Ramsey Campbell (1977) – A skittish boy, attached to his dotting mother, at odds with his disapproving father, starts to think something ominous is moving around in his bedroom fireplace. It comes to a head one Christmas Eve when he witnesses a hideous thing emerging from it. Many years later, the bizarre events of that night will be given meaning. This story won the 1978 World Fantasy Award for best short story.

If you’d like to hear one of my own, “Here He Comes A Wandering” won the Pod of Horror Christmas Horror Story Competition in 2009. It’s read during the last 15 minutes of episode #58 of that podcast.

I also had one published in the charity anthology O LITTLE TOWN OF DEATHLEHEM, published by Grinning Skull Press in 2013. My story is titled “Christmas Wine”.

Article by Matt Cowan

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