Festive Fear Global Edition; Tasmaniac Publications; 2010; 248 pgs; $15.95 US

With what we hope is an annual event, Tasmaniac Publications has released their second collection of twisted Christmas tales in the Festive Fear series.  While the first was penned by Australian only authors this sophomore effort contains stories from writers all over the world.  And while the first release was a mighty fine effort, this entry shines even brighter with stories from mid list to newly published writers and includes a large end story from a very popular author.

While none of the stories presented in this Global Edition are any thing less than enjoyable or interesting, there are a few here that are extremely memorable.  I would consider the following stories standouts:

‘Debutante’ by Matthew Davis is about a father grieving for his missing daughter.  This story affected me more than any other story in the book; I couldn’t help but feel this mans sorrow as my own.  Davis did such a great job detailing the man’s love for his young girl and his yearning for closure, that I could feel emptiness in the pit of my stomach while reading the story.  This story is brutal, but not in the way anyone would expect.

‘A Bell Ringing In The Empty Sky’ by Lee Thompson just plain scared the crap out of me.  It’s about a young boy who wishes that his Dad, an airline pilot who has to work, could be home with the family on Christmas.  Well the boy gets his wish, and you can imagine the tragic results.

‘That Old Christmas Spirit’ by Tim Curran lets us know what it would be like if those Christmas Spirits were actually honest-to-goodness spirits.  Turns out they are not honest or good, and they’re cannibals to boot.  This might be one of the goriest, violent, and black humored Christmas tales I have ever read.

‘It Comes But Once A Year’ by Dan Russell is definitely the weirdest, dirtiest, and funniest story of the whole bunch.  It’s about a supernatural shamus / hitman named Brian Rathbone who takes on a job from a toymaker to kill an entity who has been trying to kill him.  What Rathbone finds himself involved with is a huge worm that has been decorated for Christmas and semen.  Lots and lots of semen.  Did I mention that this story is also pretty gross?

With ‘Black Static’, Kealan Patrick Burke continues his annual tradition of penning a short dark Christmas tale, this one about a young man seeking a solution for his Dad’s dementia.

And this editions big finish comes from Tom Picirrilli.  His tale, ‘You Better Not Shout’, only hovers around the margins of being a true Christmas themed, story but that does not take away from its potency in this anthology.  It opens with a young boy watching his father tear out his mothers tongue with his teeth and then letting her die on the floor while he sits and drinks a beer.  The man goes to prison for his deed, but still, the young boy grows up with only vengeance on his mind.  The tale is darkly brilliant and loaded with the noir flourishes that Pic has become so renowned for.

Tasmaniac has done its usually great job with Festive Fear – Global Edition in presenting a trade paperback with high quality production values at an affordable price.  This one was close to selling out at the time this review was written so if you’ve been on the fence about purchasing a copy you should try to do so soon.  This holiday season, give yourself the gift of Festive Fear – Global Edition; it could be the most enjoyable present you’ll receive this Christmas.

Jan 31, 2011

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