June 1, 2020

Review: Christmas Ghosts edited by Kristine Grayson

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A strange dichotomy exists between Halloween and Christmas.  Not only to the two holidays have their roots in pre-Christian celebrations— Hallows Eve marks an approaching cross quarter day, and Christmas stakes out the Winter Solstice —but both seem to strike a primal chord of fear and hope.

And as stories such as Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas and Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol remind us, the two holidays go hand in hand. And hey, Halloween is the closest thing to a traditional holiday that speculative fiction has, right?

And romance, the supernatural, and the holiday season is the topic of this week’s review, Christmas Ghosts. An original Fiction River anthology out just in time for Halloween from WMG Publishing, Christmas Ghosts features eight short stories for the season by top authors in the field. If you think writing romance is easy, think again. In fact, we discussed the dilemmas of nailing the essence of the genre, and especially the problems of melding it with science fiction in our recent review of The Mammoth Book of Futuristic Romance earlier this year. It takes most authors several attempts to get a romance tale right… heck, it took us several tries just to finish Jane Eyre (the non-vampire version) back in high school.

But Christmas Ghosts was a fun read. The anthology was edited by Kristine Grayson, who may be familiar to many by her science fiction pen name Kristine Kathryn Rusch. We’ve become a big fan of Rusch’s Diving saga, which includes City of Ruins, Boneyards, Diving into the Wreck & and Skirmishes, as well as her non-Diving books Snipers and Blowback.

But beyond just chain rattling apparitions with cautionary tales, Christmas Ghosts has plenty to offer by way of cross-genre literary intrigue:

In The Farwell Gift by Louise Marley, the author ties in the devastation of World War I and trench warfare on a personal level and its effects on a Midwestern U.S. family.

In A Ghost of Time by Dean Wesley Smith, the author weaves a tale of time travel intrigue. This is no mean feat to pull off on top of a romance paranormal Christmas tale!

But Miss Merriweather’s Christmas Follies by Carole Nelson Douglas was our fave in the book, and not just because it follows the life and times of a mega-rock star, though that certainly helped. Adrian Lord is the man, Dark Angel is the band, and Goth/Death Metal is the tunes that these modern minstrels ply. But in the case of this Christmas tale, Mr. Lord’s own death at the hands of rabid fans is just the beginning.

We thoroughly enjoyed every tale in Christmas Ghosts. The collection offers a unique cross-genre take all within one solid tome of tales. Enjoy it with a glass of your favorite eggnog by a roaring, crackling fire this holiday season… and hey, it goes great with Halloween coming up next week as well!

Next Friday: So you think you know the Man of Steel? Get ready for a look at the comic book superhero that started it all with Superman: The Unauthorized Biography by Glen Weldon!


  1. [...] What do Christmas and science fiction have in common? Not much, or it may seem at least not as much as say, much more science fiction-oriented holidays, such as Halloween. [...]

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