CHRISTMAS HORROR STORY READING LIST IX (2021)

An annual highlight of my year has arrived once again! I always love putting together these suggested reading lists for the Christmas season. I find there’s just something extra-special about a well-crafted tale of supernatural horror that’s set during the most festive time of year.

The List (Listed By Publication Date Order):

1. “The Guard-Ship at the Aire“ by Amelia B. Edwards (1865) – A traveling British salesman, pressured into telling a story at a tavern, relates a near fatal event which befell him one Christmas Eve years ago while he was traveling through France with the intention of making it to Bayeux to celebrate Christmas Day in this non-supernatural thriller. (Found in the anthology Chillers For Christmas)

2. “Our Ghost Party” by Jerome K. Jerome (1891) – This isn’t so much a story as it is musings shared by the author about about how ghosts celebrate Christmas time. He trots out numerous often used cliches in classic ghost stories. (Found in the anthology Ghosts For Christmas)

3. “Wish” by Al Sarrantonio (1985) – A girl’s wish that it would be Christmas all the time comes true, plunging the world into a nightmare reality of endless Christmas lights, non-stop snowfall and constant holiday music. All the while, a terrifying, frigid thing stalks her through this festive Hellscape. (Found in the author collection Toy Box)

4. “The Night Before Christmas” by Roger Johnson (1989) – A young woman is routinely terrorized by a horrible, recurring dream she can never recall upon awakening but which leaves her in a traumatized state. When staying at a wealthy friend’s estate for Christmas one year, she faints after seeing the family’s uncle dressed as Santa Clause. This allows her to finally recall her dream which involves a morbidly obese man who looks like an evil version of Santa pursuing her. This remembrance leads to more unsettling discoveries as to the nature of the strange nightmare. This is a great Christmas horror story. (Found in the anthology Chillers For Christmas)

5. “The Close at Chadminster” by Steve Duffy (1998) – While in the process of renovating an old church during the holiday season, a cavity beneath the altar is discovered which contains old papers that shed light on an ancient mystery. That Christmas Eve a mysterious, dark figure begins to lurk around the area. You can listen here for free: https://youtu.be/ly9B7BtE1NQ

6. “Lots of Love, Uncle Billy” by Adam Millard (2013) – A young girl receives a Ouija Board delivered as a Christmas gift from an uncle who recently passed away from cancer. It turns out he wants to deliver a message about her father. (Found in the anthology Little Town of Deathlehem)

7. The Foul Mass at Tongue House” by Johnny Mains (2015) – During Christmas of 1927, a loyal maid returns to the house where she serves to bring up wine she forgot from the cellar earlier. While there, she stumbles upon the lord of the house engaged in a demonic summoning ritual. This story contains references to creations by both M.R. James and H.P. Lovecraft. (Found in the anthology Terror Tales of the Scottish Highlands)

8. “Farrow Street” by Elizabeth Hand (2018) – After her plans to spend Christmas in England with her friends get unexpectedly canceled, an American woman decides to continue on there anyway. The trip gets off to a bad start after her cell phone is stolen and the hotel she booked turns out to be a dive. Still, she enjoys some of the festivities until Christmas Day arrives and she finds the whole city has shut down to celebrate the holidays. Desperate to find a place to eat, she sets out walking the streets alone in search of somewhere. As the evening grows colder and the distance between herself and her hotel grows larger, she begins to worry she’s made a terrible mistake. Finally spying a well lit building on a road called Farrow Street, she heads toward it. This is a great, eerie tale with a very spooky finale. (Found in the anthology Hark! The Herald Angels Scream)

9. “The Stars are Shinning Brightly” by Joanna Parypinski (2020) – A group of carolers appear in the street opposite your house every night between the hours of 11:00 and midnight in the night’s leading up to Christmas. Their constant singing begins to unhinge you, keeping you from sleep. There’s something unnatural about these carolers and the songs they sing. This is yet another excellent tale by Joanna. You can read this story here: https://silentmotorist.media/2020/12/25/the-stars-are-brightly-shining-by-joanna-parypinski/

Previous Christmas Horror Reading Lists:

Article by Matt Cowan

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