Book Review: A Midnight Clear (Anthology)
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A Midnight Clear
Paperback | Kindle
By Sam Hooker, Alcy Leyva, Laura Morrison, Cassondra Windwalker, Dalena Storm, Seven Jane
Publisher: Black Spot Books, an imprint of Vesuvian Media Group
Release Date: November 5, 2019

‘Tis the season, folks. This is the first holiday book I am reviewing for this year and I am quite sure it will not be my last. A Midnight Clear is a small anthology from Black Spot Books that focuses on less-than-cheery yuletide tales that will not necessarily horrify you, but they are certainly not going to wish you a Merry Christmas, either. But, and I say this without reservation, between the six short stories, it will entertain the crap out of you.

“The Dauntless” from Sam Hooker (The Winter Riddle; Peril in the Old Country) tells a story of innocence lost, focusing in on the elves at the North Pole and what it truly means to get on a naughty list. It features a creature that I have been fascinated with for decades. The horrors that are mentioned are equaled by the humor that is laden heavily throughout the tale. I also want to add that I loved this one most of all, it was so goofy and gory that I feel like it was written just for me.

The tables have turned in Alcy Leyva‘s (And Then There Were Crows) “Tidings of the New Moon.” A simple trip to pick out a Christmas Tree causes a chance attack with unforeseen results in both the short term and long term for poor Glenn. Prepare to be amazed and saddened by the role reversal that occurs in this sad short story. You may find yourself wondering how other creatures see us in the world.

Laura Morrison (Come Back to the Swamp) has her character take on more than most in “Movin’ On Up.” Hell hath no fury like a lost soul with a chance of advancement. But convincing a mortal to change their ways only works in classic Christmas movies and books, right? Right? But the ending twists a little to where even the reader is unsure of what just happened. Will you rise or fall, do you even have a choice?

In “The Poetry of Snow and Stars,” Cassondra Windwalker (Bury The Lead) shows readers that even loss of a family member can be a joyous occasion under the right circumstances. A simple vacation becomes complicated by love and death, but not necessarily in that order. Just remember, sometimes the end justifies the means. The dialogue in this one was probably the most natural I have read in years.

“Sleep, Sweet Khors” has author Dalena Storm (The Hungry Ghost) teaching readers that even the smallest things can have devastating effects in the right context. Fear and loss can drive any of us to grief, but what if we could take it all away? Would we be helping or hurting? Again, it all depends on the context. This story will tell you how wrong it can go, in the right circumstances. The best of intentions does not equate to the best results.

The final short story is from Seven Jane (The Isle of Gold), entitled “Snow Angel” and it is loaded with metaphors. Main character Crystal is a modern woman with a full schedule and no time for anything else that might derail her well laid plans. But as we all know, life has a way of throwing us curve balls, causing us to course correct or suffer. This little tale has a definitive Dickensian feeling to it, and I mean that in the most positive way possible.

A Midnight Clear is my kind of holiday reading. I actually plan to seek out several of these authors in my local book shop, as the stories had me that engaged. This is a perfect gift for the gothic reader in your circle of friends or family. I fully appreciate the darker things in life and this one hit the spot for sure. Dive right in and enjoy, folks! Happy reading!

This short story collection includes six stories of not-so-merry Yuletide whimsy. A woman so cold she hardens to ice on a winter’s eve. Risen from his grave before his time, a winter god alters the balance between seasons. A wolf’s holiday season is interrupted by a strange curse. From a murder at the Stanley Hotel to demons of Christmas past, present, and future, and a mad elf and Santa’s Candy Court, these authors share their love for winter holidays in this collection of dark winter tales, destined to chill your bones and warm your heart for the Yuletide season.

228 pages

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