"Hark! The Herald Angels Scream" Book Review
Written by Jennifer Turner
Published by Blumhouse Books/Anchor Books
Edited by Christopher Golden
2018, 384 pages, Fiction
Released on October 23rd, 2018
Ahh Christmas a time for love, family, slay bells and gingerdead men. And what better way to celebrate this wonderful holiday than to immerse yourself in Hark! The Herald Angels Scream? I have to say out of all the anthologies I have reviewed this year Hark! is by far my favorite. This says a lot about this book, as I normally steer clear of Christmas themed anything especially horror.
My favorite is “Good Deeds” by Jeff Strand. This story is not only my favorite in the set, it’s one of the best stories I have read this year. Unless you have been living under a rock you have probably heard of that god awful “Christmas Shoes” story that has been floating around for years. If you are blessed enough to not know what I’m talking about, it’s a story where some guy’s life is changed for the better after he helps a little boy buy a pair of shoes for his dying mother on Christmas Eve. Rumor has it that this story was so sweet it gave Wilford Brimley diabetes.
In “Good Deeds”, our unnamed protagonist experiences this same thing that inspires him to write song. This song too has some unexpected results that turn the story into one of the funniest things that I have ever read. If you love dark humor do not miss this tale.
Another can’t miss read is “Love Me” by Thomas E. Sniegoski. The plot centers on Flynn, an ex con trying to do better. He reluctantly agrees to rob an elderly antique store owner and finds himself biting off more than he can handle. This tale is deliciously creepy and the ending is sad yet well written.
I really indentify with the main character of Melanie in Elizabeth Hand’s “Farrow Street”. We follow the perils of a young woman who makes the mistake of spending Christmas alone in a strange new place. While I would never have the nerve to travel alone, I can see myself making the same mistakes as Melanie and the frustration that ensues. There’s even a nice little nod to Cthulhu at the end, at least I think it does. I still haven’t read any Lovecraft, so I could be wrong.
If you like revenge tales, you’ll love “Mistletoe and Holly” by James A. Moore. In this story we meet Deanna, a recent widow struggling through the holidays. Soon her past comes back to haunt her in more ways than one. What I love about this tale is the twist ending. It’s unexpected but it fits so perfectly in the story, the way a twist ending should.
Last but certainly not least is “Yankee Swap” by John McIlveen. This Saw inspired tale focuses on a group of strangers in the deadliest White Elephant party ever. The story is fun and action packed and definitely not to be missed.
Hark! The Herald Angels Scream is the ultimate stocking stuffer for any horror fan; buy it even if you’re stuffing your own stocking. (Giggity). Trust me, you won’t be disappointed.