Review: The 13 Ghosts of Christmas / Author: Simon Marshall-Jones / Publisher: Spectral Press / Release Date: Out Now
The Yuletide period has always been heavily associated with the supernatural, although in recent years, the traditional Christmas ghost story seems to have become, if not less popular, then at least less visible. (The closest thing to a Christmas-themed ghost story that we see on our televisions these days tends to be a re-run of A Christmas Carol.) Spectral Press, who have taken the UK horror scene by storm with their excellent chapbooks and novellas, have decided to address this imbalance with their first anthology, The 13 Ghosts of Christmas.
And what a collection it is. The roster of authors includes a number of well-known names, alongside some promising newcomers, and while each story has a Christmas theme, their execution is refreshing, original and in some instances, downright creepy.
The settings range from London in the 1800s to bleak inner city landscapes in the present day. Standouts include Gary McMahon's wonderfully bleak Ritualism, that combines concrete squalor, violent teenage gangs, urban legends and pagan ritual, and Thana Niveau's chilling tale about sentient, murderous snow, And May All Your Christmases.
As with most anthologies, there's some variance in the quality of the tales, but all in all this in a impressive line-up, with even the one or two weaker offerings perfectly readable and entertaining in their own right. If you want to add a little chill to your Christmas and resurrect the old tradition of the seasonal ghost story, then you won't find a better book than this.