You only have to walk into any store to be buffeted by Mariah Carey and see that retail has vomited red and green over everything.  Finding...

Ho-Ho-Horror || 12 Tales of Christmas Terror

Christmas Tree with wrapped presents underneath on Red Background with blood spatter across words Ho Ho Horror
You only have to walk into any store to be buffeted by Mariah Carey and see that retail has vomited red and green over everything. Finding the perfect gift, budgeting, baking and cooking, family, ugh—The holidays are stressful! 

It's no surprise then that horror fans turn to seasonal horror for comfort. Just look at all the Christmas movies out there: Black Christmas, Gremlins, Krampus, Silent Night, Deadly Night, Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (one of my personal favorites), Anna and the Apocalypse, and there are so many more. 

What about us bookworms who just want to curl up in our comfy chair with a fuzzy blanket, a cup of something hot, and tune out the world for a little while? Here are twelve Christmas horror reads for those of us that want to slay the holidays. 

(If you purchase using the affiliate links, I may receive a small commission at no cost to you. CLC does not receive payment for reviews.)




DEAD OF WINTER 

BY KEALAN PATRICK BURKE


Winter isn’t coming…it’s already here, and with it comes a horror no door can keep out.It’s there in the yard, in the faces of the snowmen a young boy doesn’t remember building. It’s in the oddly empty streets below Santa Claus’s crumbling sleigh. It’s in the unnatural movement of the snow that suffocates a widower’s town, and in the cold eyes of a lonely man’s estranged children. Here, there is no holiday cheer, only spine-chilling fear, in the DEAD OF WINTER. Featuring seven stories, an introduction by the author, and a list of recommended books for the winter season.



WHERE THE DEAD GO TO DIE 

BY AARON DRIES AND MARK ALLAN GUNNELLS


There are monsters in this world. And they used to be us. Now it's time to euthanize to survive in a hospice where Emily, a woman haunted by her past, only wants to do her job and be the best mother possible.

Post-infection Chicago. Christmas.

Inside The Hospice, Emily and her fellow nurses do their rounds. Here, men and women live out their final days in comfort, segregated from society, and are then humanely terminated before fate turns them into marrow-craving monsters known as ‘Smilers.’ Outside these imposing walls, rabid protesters swarm with signs, caught up in the heat of their hatred.

Emily, a woman haunted by her past, only wants to do her job and be the best mother possible. But in a world where mortality means nothing, where guns are drawn in fear and nobody seems safe anymore – at what cost will this pursuit come? And through it all, the soon to be dead remain silent, ever smiling. Such is their curse.

This emotional, political novel comes from two of horror’s freshest voices, and puts a new spin on an eternal topic: the undead. In the spirit of George A Romero meets Jack Ketchum, Where the Dead Go to Die it is an unforgettable epilogue to the zombie genre, one that will leave you shaken and questioning right from wrong…even when it’s the only right left.

It won't be long before that snow-speckled ground will be salted by blood.



Goodreads Amazon

SNOWBALL 

BY GREGORY BASTIANELLI


A group of motorists become stranded on a lonely stretch of highway during a Christmas Eve blizzard and fight for survival against an unnatural force in the storm. The gathered survivors realize a tenuous connection among them means it may not be a coincidence that they all ended up on this highway. An attempt to seek help leads a few of the travelers to a house in the woods where a twisted toymaker with a mystical snow globe is hell bent on playing deadly games with a group of people just trying to get home for the holidays. 

(My review can be found here)




Goodreads Amazon

A MIDNIGHT CLEAR 
ED. BY LINDY RYAN 

Six stories of not-so-merry Yuletide whimsy from the authors of Black Spot Books. A woman so cold she hardens to ice on a winter's eve. Risen from his grave before his time, a winter god alters the balance between seasons. A wolf's holiday season is interrupted by a strange curse. From a murder at the Stanley Hotel to demons of Christmas past, present, and future, and a mad elf and Santa's Candy Court, the authors of Black Spot Books share their love for winter holidays in this collection of dark winter tales, destined to chill your bones and warm your heart for the Yuletide season.

(My review can be found here)


SNOW 

BY RONALD MALFI


They come in with the snow. They are the snow . . .
 
The blizzard begins pummeling the Midwest on Christmas Eve, leaving hundreds of passengers stranded at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. Todd Curry doesn’t need another reason to disappoint his son, so he joins three other people in renting the last four-wheel drive available and they set out into the blinding snow.
 
Only two hours into the treacherous trip west, Todd swerves to avoid a man in the middle of the highway. The stranger claims his daughter is lost somewhere out in the snow. Though his odd demeanor and ripped clothes make Todd and his group uneasy, they agree to take the man to the nearest town—if the now damaged car can make it.
 
What awaits them at the next exit, however, is nothing they could have imagined. Around an empty town square, fires burn, cars are abandoned., storefronts are smashed. And there is no one to be seen—for now . . .
 
But soon the shadows lurking on the edges of their vision will step into the light, and Todd and his fellow travelers will find themselves facing a sharp-scythed evil shaped from the snow, tearing its way into human form—and taking the neighborhood by storm.

THE VALANCOURT BOOK OF VICTORIAN CHRISTMAS GHOST STORIES Volumes 1-5


During the Victorian era, it became traditional for publishers of newspapers and magazines to print ghost stories during the Christmas season for chilling winter reading by the fireside or candlelight. If you can’t get enough, more of these Christmas ghost stories are included in the five volume collection!





Goodreads Amazon

BAH! HUMBUG! AN ANTHOLOGY OF CHRISTMAS HORROR STORIES



Matt Shaw has called upon some of the biggest names in horror to put together an anti-Christmas anthology of horror and weirdness!
 






HARK! THE HERALD ANGELS SCREAM

 ED. BY CHRISTOPHER GOLDEN


Eighteen stories of Christmas horror from bestselling, acclaimed authors including Scott Smith, Seanan McGuire, Josh Malerman, Michael Koryta, Sarah Pinborough, and many more.

That there is darkness at the heart of the Yuletide season should not surprise. Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol is filled with scenes that are unsettling. Marley untying the bandage that holds his jaws together. The hideous children--Want and Ignorance--beneath the robe of the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. The heavy ledgers Marley drags by his chains. In the finest versions of this story, the best parts are the terrifying parts.
Bestselling author and editor Christopher Golden shares his love for Christmas horror stories with this anthology of all-new short fiction from some of the most talented and original writers of horror today.




MISTLETOE 
BY ALISON LITTLEWOOD


Leah Hamilton is looking for a new life following the tragic deaths of her husband and son. Determined to bury her grief in hard work, and desperate to escape Christmas and the pitying looks of her colleagues, she rushes through the purchase of a run-down Yorkshire farmhouse, arriving just as the snow shrouds her new home.

It may look like a Christmas card, but it's soon clear it's not just the house needing renovation; the land is in bad heart too. And Leah's mind starts playing tricks on her: she hears a child playing in the snow, but although there are snowballs, there are no footprints. Is this the ghost of her son, returned to her? She starts having visions of the farm's former occupants - the young widow and her son, the cousin who's wooing her, the maid who shares her secrets and the handsome labourer who's hanged for the murder of a child, a murder he didn't commit.

Is Leah strong enough to lay the increasingly malevolent ghosts and find a way to move on? Or will her ashes end up scattered over the now-covered fields?



Goodreads Amazon

SECRET SANTA 

BY ANDREW SHAFFER


The Office meets Stephen King, dressed up in holiday tinsel, in this fun, festive, and frightening horror-comedy set during the horror publishing boom of the ’80s, by New York Times best-selling satirist Andrew Shaffer.

Out of work for months, Lussi Meyer is desperate to work anywhere in publishing. Prestigious Blackwood-Patterson isn’t the perfect fit, but a bizarre set of circumstances leads to her hire and a firm mandate: Lussi must find the next horror superstar to compete with Stephen King, Anne Rice, and Peter Straub. It’s the ’80s, after all, and horror is the hottest genre.

But as soon as she arrives, Lussi finds herself the target of her co-workers' mean-spirited pranks. The hazing reaches its peak during the company’s annual Secret Santa gift exchange, when Lussi receives a demonic-looking object that she recognizes but doesn't understand. Suddenly, her coworkers begin falling victim to a series of horrific accidents akin to a George Romero movie, and Lussi suspects that her gift is involved. With the help of her former author, the flamboyant Fabien Nightingale, Lussi must track down her anonymous Secret Santa and figure out the true meaning of the cursed object in her possession before it destroys the company—and her soul.



SEASON'S CREEPINGS
BY RONALD KELLY


O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree... what lurks among thy branches...

Christmas can be the most wonderful time of the year. Candy canes and hot cocoa. Snowmen and sleigh rides. The love and hope that the Nativity brings. Cold milk and warm cookies for Santa. Family, friends, and the cheerful laughter of children.

But, beneath the festive wrapping paper and the gleam and glitter of the lights and tinsel, things less jubilant may lie in wait. The holiday season can bring love, peace, and benevolence... but it may also spawn a darkness lurking amid the shadowy boughs of the Christmas tree, ornaments that should have never seen the light of day, let along hung on festive branches, and bones that jingle and dance, in search of Santa's crimson suit... and the flesh that resides within.

In this collection of harrowing holiday tales, Ronald Kelly leaves ten frightful and horrific gifts in the Christmas stockings that hang from the mantle of your cheerful fireplace. Ghastly and gruesome presents that slowly unwrap and burst into life while you are tucked, snug and warm, in your bed and take on nightmarish form in the icy winter hours of Christmas Eve, turning comfort and joy into terror and dread.



Goodreads Amazon
CHILL TIDINGS: DARK TALES OF THE CHRISTMAS SEASON
ED. BY TANYA KIRK

The gifts are unwrapped, the feast has been consumed and the fire is well fed – but the ghosts are still hungry. Welcome to the second new collection of dark Christmas stories in the Tales of the Weird series, ushering in a fresh host of nightmarish phantoms and otherworldly intruders bent on joining or ruining the most wonderful time of the year. Featuring classic tales from Algernon Blackwood, Rosemary Timperley, Sheridan Le Fanu and Elinor Glyn alongside rare pieces from the sleeping periodicals and literary magazines of the Library collection, it’s time to open the door and let the real festivities begin.