The Thirteenth Day of Christmas and Other Tales of Yuletide Horror by David Allen Voyles

The Thirteenth Day of Christmas and Other Tales of Yuletide Horror by David Allen Voyles
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Holiday, Horror, Paranormal, Contemporary, Historical
Length: Full Length (174 pages)
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Remember that line from “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”? “There’ll be scary ghost stories and tales of the glories of Christmases long, long ago.” Telling ghost stories during the Yuletide season was a popular tradition during Victorian times, and David Allen Voyles revives the tradition with his collection of twelve original, frightening ghost tales and one novella, all set in the Christmas season. You’ll find a wide array of supernatural entities within The Thirteenth Day of Christmas and Other Tales of Yuletide Horror, from traditional ghosts to modern twists on familiar Christmas characters like Santa and Krampus. You’ll travel to a modern hotel in the Arctic Circle that’s made entirely of ice, as well as to a nineteenth century village in Bulgaria whose citizens have a unique yearly ritual with an enigmatic toymaker. There are ghostly mysteries to be solved, wicked children to be punished, haunted graveyards, possessed dolls, and even a humorous account of Santa’s visit to a haunted house on Christmas Eve. So turn down the lights, grab a cup of eggnog, and light the Yule log as you prepare to read these Christmas ghost stories. Just remember as you read them, you can cry and you can pout, but one thing is for sure–you better watch out!

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“The Toymaker” was the tale mentioned in the blurb about a nineteenth century Bulgarian village whose citizens have a unique ritual every winter with a travelling toymaker. Getting to know so many of the families who loved in this village made their world come alive to me. I had a good time seeing what their daily lives were like and what they hoped their yearly visitor might do for them. There were exactly enough hints about his identity to make it clear. I also liked the horror twist Mr. Voyles included in the plot. It was just as festive as it was scary.

There were a few stories in this collection that I thought would have benefitted from more development. “O, Christmas Tree” was one of them. It followed the Livingston family between the time they bought an artificial tree at a yard sale and Christmas Day. The tree they brought home was expensive, so the fact that they got it at such a bargain price seemed too good to be true. I was fascinated by this find and wanted to know more about where the tree came from and why it was sold for so little money. While there were some answers to be found later on, I had so many unanswered questions by the end of it about what happened to them and why their tree was such a strange object.

Merle and Gladys had enjoyed their brother’s annual Christmas visit for years when “A Promise Kept” began. When a heavy snowstorm started on Christmas Eve, they worried he wouldn’t be able to make it home this time and were relieved to see him once again after he did show up. I liked reading about the cozy holiday these siblings shared and was quite curious to find out what the science fiction, fantasy, or horror twist might be for such a wholesome get-together.

I’d wholeheartedly recommend The Thirteenth Day of Christmas and Other Tales of Yuletide Horror to anyone who is intrigued by the darker side of the holiday season.

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