cover image A Midnight Clear

A Midnight Clear

Edited by Lindy Ryan. Black Spot, $15.99 trade paper (228p) ISBN 978-1-73359-944-3

The whimsy of the holiday season turns dark and absurd in this wickedly amusing anthology of six stories. Jolly elves are forced to try the North Pole’s first murder case in Sam Hooker’s “The Dauntless.” Alcy Leyva’s hilarious “Tidings of the New Moon” inverts classic werewolf tropes when a well-to-do wolf is bitten by a wild human. Laura Morrison’s “Movin’ On Up” also remixes a familiar story: three demons, darker versions of Dickens’s Christmas ghosts, visit a saintly woman slated to die on Christmas morning and pitch her on spending the afterlife in hell. In Cassondra Windwalker’s “The Poetry of Snow and Stars,” a family spends Christmas in a haunted hotel where their holiday is derailed by a mysterious death. A young girl with a dying uncle learns the importance of the cycle of seasons in Dalena Storm’s “Sleep, Sweet Khors.” Seven Jane’s “Snow Angel,” the weakest of the six, follows a harried single mother so preoccupied with the logistics of the season that she forgets the true meaning of Christmas and turns to ice. This selection of darkly comic yuletide stories is perfect for horror readers who appreciate a bit of holiday spirit. (Nov.)