Hark! is the newest addition to the Blumhouse Books Original library, boasting 18 stories from some of the genre’s meatiest chops.
I’ve had many a love in my life, none so nearly great as horror anthologies and holiday horror. Combining them is simply an act of heroism, which is exactly why picking up this collection was like receiving a Christmas present months in advance- a present I didn’t get too much use out of.
The criteria for my brand of holiday horror is pretty low maintenance; be set during Christmas or the holiday season and have holiday elements in it (candy canes, carols, Santa, Krampus, gifts, snowmen, whatever, etc.) That’s really it, and that’s not asking a lot. If I’m struggling to find any connection to the holiday, it probably shouldn’t have made the cut. Sadly, that was the case for many of the shorts in the anthology. No criticism was passed on the story itself when going through the checklist, merely it’s Christmas-ness. I enjoyed some of the stories that weren’t in the vein of the season, but their presence stood out for all the wrong reasons and would have had better homes in another type of anthology.
Those short stories that did have the holiday elements and did tell a riveting story truly do add to the subgenre and deserve recognition. However, few of them were groundbreaking. The cover art is brilliant though, thanks to Mark Abrams and Vicente Segrelles.
I really did want to praise this collection as a whole, and that just couldn’t happen with the amount of elements out of place, namely the selection process.
Good Deeds by Jeff Strand: So god damned funny. You’ll have to pause just to laugh.
Christmas in Barcelona by Scott Smith: What a twist-absolute dread throughout but in different forms.
Absinthe and Angels by Kelley Armstrong: Succinct, interesting mythos, and a true horror ending.
Fresh as the New-Fallen Snow by Seanan McGuire: Very unique premise and heartbreaking.
Love Me by Thomas E. Sniegoski: Creepy-crawly with a splash of camp.
Not Just For Christmas by Sarah Lotz: Hilarious and crude, a story that should be read by techies.
Tenets by Josh Malerman: Made you feel as if you knew the characters and in turn, fearful.
It’s A Wonderful Knife by Christopher Golden: Cleverly written and a fun spin on holiday horror.
Mistletoe and Holly by James A. Moore: Soul crushing- you’ll be pitying the protagonist.
Snake’s Tail by Sarah Langan: The concept is pure desolation but it didn’t quite fit the holiday bill.
The Second Floor of the Christmas Hotel by Joe R. Lansdale: Who doesn’t like Christmas ghosts?
Farrow Street by Elizabeth Hand: Captures traveling anxiety, but the holiday setting isn’t strong.
Doctor Velocity: A Story of the Fire Zone by Jonathan Maberry: Virtually not a Christmas story. Very odd choice.
Yankee Swap by John McIlveen: P2-esque and exciting to be the fly on the wall.
Honor Thy Mother by Angela Slatter: A new angle on holiday premises, excellently written.
Home by Tim Lebbon: Again, not one mention of a single holiday. More action than horror.
Hiking Through by Michael Koryta: Humorus, relatable narrator with an engaging story.
The Hangman’s Bride by Sarah Pinborough: Classic Gothic ghostly goodness.