A Cold Christmas and the Darkest of Winters
by Cinnabar Moth
GENRE: Dark fantasy/horror
A Cold Christmas and the Darkest of Winters is
a collection of Christmas- and winter-themed short stories from an international
group of authors with diverse perspectives. Each of the stories was selected
for the incredible world building, character development, and fantastic
storytelling. The collection is divided into two groups: stories that include
Christmas or have a Christmas theme, and stories that take place in winter.
None of the stories are for the faint of heart, and we strongly advise that
everyone read the content notes in their entirety.
The Christmas tales are a mixture of profound loss and familiar fantasy with a fresh twist. The fantasy Christmas stories are a mixture, ranging from tales of despair and frustration to those with hope, delight, and an amusing twist.
The darkest of winter begins with a whimsical fantasy tale, followed by some paranormal tales that will leave you feeling haunted. Also included are dark contemporary, dark fantasy, chilling and brutal horror, and postapocalyptic science fiction. The contemporary works include twisted tales of sadness and loss. There are no purely happy endings, but there are many thrills, chills, and surprises.
The Sound of Wolves by Gwen Katz.
The two of them pull their blankets tighter around themselves and sink lower into the muddy ditch that will one day be a street, not that it would offer any protection if the beasts decided to attack. Their work crew had to claw out this ditch with their bare hands, which was hell on Ulrik’s still-healing arm. If there are any shovels in this worksite, Ulrik hasn’t seen them. There are wolves in Sweden, of course, but Ulrik lives in an apartment in Stockholm and has never even seen a wolf. Or rather, that’s where he lived once. Before the Army. Before the battle. Before he was captured and press-ganged into building a city for his enemies.
The wind shrieks through the ditch, which, far from sheltering them, seems to funnel its full force directly onto the cluster of workers. There are no buildings here yet. Just ditches and the foundations of a lone fortress. The serfs haven’t even had a chance to build shelters for themselves. A fat raindrop splatters against Ulrik’s cheek as though God is spitting on him. It’s raining. Of course it is.
As the downpour pelts them, Grishka looks up at the sky and shrugs, as if to say that he didn’t expect any better.
And the worst part, thinks Ulrik, is that it’s summer. It’s going to get worse. It’s going to get so much worse.
From my perspective, the tales in this marvelous anthology tended to fall more in the dark fantasy than the horror category. There are creature features aplenty. There are ghost stories and retellings of fairy tales from the perspective of the villain, i.e., the witch from Hansel and Gretel. I felt like this anthology would be best read by the light of a candle or an oil lantern, but the backlight from my computer screen served its purpose.
These stories are not splatter-fests. They are shadowed and thought-provoking revelations. Some of them may even make you feel sympathy for the thing that goes bump in the night.
I highly recommend this anthology to readers who appreciate tales on the darker side. I rate A Cold Christmas and the Darkest of Winters five out of five stars.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
This Anthology was written by an international team of renowned short story authors. Each author’s point of view is unique, and their voices are from groups not typically heard from. Every author is either a BIPOC, neurodivergent, part of the LGBTQIA community, or is physically or mentally disabled. This thrilling work contains story that reflect their own voices and lived experiences.
GIVEAWAY INFORMATION and RAFFLECOPTER CODE:
Moth will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn
winner via rafflecopter during the tour.