cover image Hark! The Herald Angels Scream

Hark! The Herald Angels Scream

Edited by Christopher Golden. Blumhouse, $16.95 trade paper (384p) ISBN 978-0-525-43316-3

Golden’s solid Christmas-themed anthology of 18 original stories plays on the darker side of the holiday season. Among the best are Michael Koryta’s haunting “Hiking Through,” about a brokenhearted man who finds an unusual solace along the Appalachian Trail, and Sarah Pinborough’s atmospheric novella “The Hangman’s Bride,” in which a young chimney sweep discovers horrors at the strange home of a gentleman hangman. Tim Lebbon’s “Home,” set in a postapocalyptic landscape, is a chilling meditation on memory and loss. Scott Smith’s superb “Christmas in Barcelona” is a wondrous and twisted take on “The Gift of the Magi.” In Seanan McGuire’s heartbreaking “Fresh as the New-Fallen Snow,” an unusual babysitter offers a new start for three children who have never known true parental love. Sarah Lotz’s darkly funny “Not Just for Christmas” is about an estranged husband and father who buys a genetically modified puppy for his family, with disastrous results. Stories by Joe R. Lansdale and John M. McIveen are straightforward horror while those by Elizabeth Hand, James A. Moore, and Josh Malerman rely on more subtle shivers, and Golden’s own “It’s a Wonderful Knife” is a pulpy treat. With few missteps, this lineup proves that the Christmas season can have plenty of thrills and chills. (Nov.)