By Sam Hooker, Seven Jane, Alcy Leyva, Laura Morrison, Dalena Storm, Cassondra Windwalker
** Publication Date 5 November 2019 **
A Midnight Clear is a book of six short stories, all themed around the winter holidays. But these aren’t your “Hallmark” style of holiday stories. These are more likely to end up on Twilight Zone or Scary Stories.
Each author shares a darker tale centered around Christmas, or in one case, the Winter Solstice. Sam Hooker brings us The Dauntless, a twisted tale about the North Pole’s justice system. How does one try and punish a murderer, when that murderer is an elf? In Alcy Leyva’s Tidings of the New Moon, we get a look at the flip side of becoming a werewolf, when wolves rule, not humans, and human bites are to be feared.
Next up is Laura Morrison’s visit to the seven circles of hell in Movin’ on Up, where a woman set to die gets a chance at redemption. Or something more twisted. The Poetry of Snow and Stars is Cassondra Windwalker’s contribution, sharing a Sam Geisler short mystery set at the epic Stanley Hotel over the Christmas holiday. Dalena Storm’s Sleep, Sweet Khors is a tale of the winter solstice holiday for one family, and one little girl that simply doesn’t want to let Khors have his winter rest. Lastly Seven Jane gives us Snow Angel, which reminds us all to slow down and savor the holiday season. Don’t get wrapped up in the commercialism.
Each one of these stories was a fun, sometimes frightening, look at the holiday season. Some were definitely more lighthearted (even though a bit dark) than others, but all brought that good old Stephen King type of holiday magic. Just getting a taste of some of these writers was enough to make me want to read more of their work. Plus, the short story format is a nice way to get a little bit of reading in between wrapping gifts. If you’re looking for something unusual for the holiday season that doesn’t drip with sugar, this book is right on target.