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Halldark Holidays

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The holidays are a time for romance, sentimental longing for a simpler time…and MONSTERS! Editor Gabino Iglesias brings you 22 stories from the hearts and absolutely twisted minds of some of horror’s finest. Right from the get-go this book slays. Greg Sisco’s “The Morbs” is like “The Lottery”, but more screwed-up. Brian Keene delivers as always with “The Hatching” and Gabi The holidays are a time for romance, sentimental longing for a simpler time…and MONSTERS! Editor Gabino Iglesias brings you 22 stories from the hearts and absolutely twisted minds of some of horror’s finest. Right from the get-go this book slays. Greg Sisco’s “The Morbs” is like “The Lottery”, but more screwed-up. Brian Keene delivers as always with “The Hatching” and Gabino swears you might shed a tear by the time you reach Todd Robinson’s “Mother and Child”. Clara Madrigano, Cynthia Pelayo, Bev Vincent, Alan Baxter, Gina Ranalli, Kelly J. Ford, Mark Allan Gunnells are absolute killers in the genre.


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The holidays are a time for romance, sentimental longing for a simpler time…and MONSTERS! Editor Gabino Iglesias brings you 22 stories from the hearts and absolutely twisted minds of some of horror’s finest. Right from the get-go this book slays. Greg Sisco’s “The Morbs” is like “The Lottery”, but more screwed-up. Brian Keene delivers as always with “The Hatching” and Gabi The holidays are a time for romance, sentimental longing for a simpler time…and MONSTERS! Editor Gabino Iglesias brings you 22 stories from the hearts and absolutely twisted minds of some of horror’s finest. Right from the get-go this book slays. Greg Sisco’s “The Morbs” is like “The Lottery”, but more screwed-up. Brian Keene delivers as always with “The Hatching” and Gabino swears you might shed a tear by the time you reach Todd Robinson’s “Mother and Child”. Clara Madrigano, Cynthia Pelayo, Bev Vincent, Alan Baxter, Gina Ranalli, Kelly J. Ford, Mark Allan Gunnells are absolute killers in the genre.

30 review for Halldark Holidays

  1. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    Halldark Holidays was hit or miss for me, but I love the idea of this anthology. I found some stories that I really enjoyed (including some by new-to-me authors), and my top 5 stories were Winterland Surprise by Kathryn E. McGee, Holiday Traditions by Cina Pelayo, Christmas Every Day by Nicole Willson, Elmreach by Jonathan Duckworth, and Christmas in Quail's Egg by Max Carrey. I know a lot of people disagree with this, but I have to say that I wish this anthology was one that had trigger warning Halldark Holidays was hit or miss for me, but I love the idea of this anthology. I found some stories that I really enjoyed (including some by new-to-me authors), and my top 5 stories were Winterland Surprise by Kathryn E. McGee, Holiday Traditions by Cina Pelayo, Christmas Every Day by Nicole Willson, Elmreach by Jonathan Duckworth, and Christmas in Quail's Egg by Max Carrey. I know a lot of people disagree with this, but I have to say that I wish this anthology was one that had trigger warnings before the stories. CW - homophobia, death during childbirth, suicide, killing animals, mentions of bullying, eating disorder, sexual assault, abuse, death of a child, rape

  2. 4 out of 5

    ElleEm

    This was a fun collection of stories for me to read at this time of year. Not all are set at Christmas but most of them are. I enjoyed the theme of this anthology and every story hit the mark. This has been one messed up year (for all of us, right?). I find it hard to believe that we are days away from Christmas, like it should only be late summer, but we are all exhausted like this year has gone on forever. It’s been hard for me to find the Christmas spirit but this book has helped. I know that This was a fun collection of stories for me to read at this time of year. Not all are set at Christmas but most of them are. I enjoyed the theme of this anthology and every story hit the mark. This has been one messed up year (for all of us, right?). I find it hard to believe that we are days away from Christmas, like it should only be late summer, but we are all exhausted like this year has gone on forever. It’s been hard for me to find the Christmas spirit but this book has helped. I know that’s strange that a horror book brightened my mood but it did. As with any anthology, I enjoy reading new-to-me authors. The stories ranged from somewhat humorous tales to dark/sad. I loved the inclusion of gay characters in so many stories, most of the time as MC’s. A few of the standouts for me were “The Morbs” by Greg Sisco, “A Winterland Surprise” by Kathryn E. McGee, “O Little Town...” by Mark Allan Gunnells, “The Best Christmas Town in Maryland!” By Sheri White and “Mother and Child” by Todd Robinson.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    "Halldarck" Holidays is a decent anthology with a fun concept but which suffers a bit from its hasty production (typos abound). The stories themselves are pretty hit or miss, but there are some true gems sprinkled in. My personal favorites: The Morbs, Elmreach, Frito Pie, A Total Super Miracle on 34th Street, and Christmas Every Day. "Halldarck" Holidays is a decent anthology with a fun concept but which suffers a bit from its hasty production (typos abound). The stories themselves are pretty hit or miss, but there are some true gems sprinkled in. My personal favorites: The Morbs, Elmreach, Frito Pie, A Total Super Miracle on 34th Street, and Christmas Every Day.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Erica Robyn Metcalf

    Halldark Holidays edited by Gabino Iglesias is a collection of tales that are perfect for people that love both Hallmark holiday movies and all things horror. I remember the tweet going out from Gabino with the original idea. I immediately retweeted and said something like “sign me up for a copy!” I just love holiday horror so much! I loved watching the horror community on Twitter and in various podcasts talking about the project. Even the folks that got a rejection letter were praising the overal Halldark Holidays edited by Gabino Iglesias is a collection of tales that are perfect for people that love both Hallmark holiday movies and all things horror. I remember the tweet going out from Gabino with the original idea. I immediately retweeted and said something like “sign me up for a copy!” I just love holiday horror so much! I loved watching the horror community on Twitter and in various podcasts talking about the project. Even the folks that got a rejection letter were praising the overall process! When I first heard about the idea of this one, I could not wait to get my hands on a copy! I’m so excited that I was able to dive in during my holiday break. Per usual with collections like this, here are my quick thoughts on each of the stories. The Darkness is Always There: An Introduction by Gabino Iglesias I loved that this intro talked about how the project came to be! What an exciting thing this was. This intro also does a wonderfully job pumping the reader up for the following stories. The Morbs by Greg Sisco – 5/5 Holiday: Christmas Sent on assignment to write about a town big on Christmas, our photojournalist main character just wants to do her job, but has to continue brushing off her coworkers advances. What they’re about to learn about the town will make quite a story indeed. I loved this one so much! I read a story similar to this in one of Kevin J Kennedy’s holiday collections I believe. The Hatching by Brian Keene – 5/5 Holiday: Easter Oh my goodness this one was so heartwarming a with a dash of terror! I loved how dedicated to his daughter the main character was. But those poor kids. Beware of the oversized Easter eggs! She’s Back by Clara Madrigano – 4/5 Holiday: Christmas Ooh the hints dropped in this one were wonderfully unsettling. I loved that we very slowly started to see that something was wrong. Der Eeich Yaeger by Alessandro DiFrancesco – 4/5 Holiday: Christmas This story certainly brought on all the warm and fuzzies of meeting your future in-laws and having it go well. Up until the point that it doesn’t, of course. I loved the main character and how open and caring she was. A Winterland Surprise by Kathryn E. McGee- 5/5 Holiday: Christmas In a town that loves Christmas, our main character is about to learn that the Christmas spirit is actually something that needs to be tended to. This tale was so spooky! Definitely a lesson in trusting your gut and not following the attractive man you just met into the dark… The Bone Fire by Alan Baxter – 5/5 Holiday: Christmas Oh my goodness! I was not expecting that ending. Holy moley! Rainbow Black by Gina Ranalli- 5/5 Holiday: Coming Out Day Ah! The closed-mindedness will make your blood boil. But the rest is just wonderful! I loved the ending! An Invisible Christmas Spectacular by Bev Vincent – 5/5 Holiday: Christmas When a mayor just wants to give his town a great Christmas celebration after a rough year, he decides to host the party on the property of a home that everyone thought was abandoned. At the party, things are going wonderfully! Until, of course, things go sideways. This one was so brutal and the switch from hallmark to dark was very quick! Elmreach by Jonathan Duckworth – 5/5 Holiday: Christmas Ah, another tale about going home to meet your partners family. This one was a whirlwind romance. Everything seemed so storybook perfect at the beginning… man this story was wicked unsettling! I love that the veil was slowly lifted as both the reader and main character learned what was going on at the same time. And that ending! Frito Pie by Kelly J. Ford – 5/5 Holiday: Valentines Day Oh the set up of this tale was so wonderfully done. I had no inkling that the tale was about to end up where it did! A Total Super Miracle on 34th Street by Mackenzie Kiera – 3/5 Holiday: Christmas Oh Lordy, this woman was obsessed with her own personal timeline of how things in her life should work out. When things don’t go as she thought, she goes on a warpath. O Little Town… by Mark Allan Gunnells – 5/5 Holiday: Christmas Oh noooooo! How quickly this all transpired was absolutely terrifying. Feu De Joie by Magnolia Strock – 4/5 Holiday: 4th of July Jesus! Very real world horror. Oofh. This one is gonna stick with me. Somebody Always Hears You by Elizabeth Hirst – 3/5 Holiday: Christmas What a dark twist on making wishes and having them come true! This main character was very unlikable for me, so I couldn’t wait to see how things turned out. Christmas Every Day by Nicole Willson – 3/5 Holiday: Christmas Oh gosh, what a spoiled child! The parents clearly couldn’t reason with her. And what revenge for the sister! The Christmas Cabin by Fred Venturini – 4/5 Holiday: Christmas Oh my goodness! I loved the start of this one so much. When the creepiness set in, it made me feel wicked claustrophobic! What Happens in the Dark Will Soon Happen in the Light by Michael Harris Cohen – 3/5 Holiday: Christmas Oofh, what a heartbreaking and eerie tale. I definitely wanted to know more when I got the end of this one. The Best Christmas Town in Maryland! by Sheri White – 3/5 Holiday: Christmas Yikes! This poor mayor just wanted everything to be perfect. But this year in the Christmas town, there will be more bloodshed than Christmas cheer. Christmas in Quail’s Eggs by Max Carrey – 5/5 Holiday: Christmas Another tale about going back home with your significant other to meet up with family. Phew, I was ready for something crazy to happen, but I couldn’t have seen this one coming! Terrifying!! A Wail of a Christmas by Jillian Bost – 5/5 Holiday: Christmas Woah! This one was super eerie. I loved the slow and easy pacing and then boom. Wonderfully done! Holiday Traditions by Cina Pelayo – Holiday: Christmas Cina’s writing is so poetic and beautiful, even when discussing the macabre! I loved the flow of this story and how you knew something was not quite right but didn’t know what up until the reveal. Mother and Child by Todd Robinson – 5/5 Holiday: Christmas Ooh a haunted house in Maine?! I was so in for this one. What a spooky and absolutely heartbreaking tale. I loved the set up and pacing of this one. My Final Thoughts I loved that the majority of these stories were centered around Christmas, but that there were a few other holidays scattered in. Each story was so unique! I loved that some were creepy, some were absolutely terrifying, and some were very real world horror. If you enjoy holiday horror, you gotta go pick this one up if you haven’t yet!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Heather

    Halldark Holidays, edited by Gabino Iglesias, is full of stories meant to be a twist on the “Hallmark Holidays” concept. These are horror tales, all of which take place on or around holidays. Mostly Christmas, but occasionally Valentine’s Day, 4th of July, or Easter. Todd Robinson’s “Mother and Child” was my favorite; even in a short length it has a lot of emotion to it. Officer Garrett Kincade volunteers to watch over the town’s haunted house on Christmas Eve. The land has been bought by develop Halldark Holidays, edited by Gabino Iglesias, is full of stories meant to be a twist on the “Hallmark Holidays” concept. These are horror tales, all of which take place on or around holidays. Mostly Christmas, but occasionally Valentine’s Day, 4th of July, or Easter. Todd Robinson’s “Mother and Child” was my favorite; even in a short length it has a lot of emotion to it. Officer Garrett Kincade volunteers to watch over the town’s haunted house on Christmas Eve. The land has been bought by developers, and they don’t want kids messing with it. It’s the 10th anniversary of the tragedy that took place there, and Garrett thinks he sees something moving in the windows. Cina Pelayo’s “Holiday Traditions” introduces us to Jenny and her mother, Alice. It’s Jenny’s first “real” Christmas, and her family is preparing an unusual feast. I particularly enjoyed the obvious love between Alice and Jenny against a creepy backdrop. Michael Harris Cohen wrote “What Happens In the Dark Will Soon Happen In the Light.” Daddy left for war when his daughter was five; now she’s seven and mom says Daddy’s coming home. This story definitely captures what PTSD can mean to a person and their family, but the story is ultimately quite creepy beyond that. Content note for animal harm and death. Nicole Willson’s “Christmas Every Day” shows us what can happen when a six-year-old wishes for every day to be Christmas. There’s a great theme of revenge in here as well. Elizabeth Hirst’s “Somebody Always Hears You” is another take on the wishing theme, as Mia, who has strange holes in her memory, decides to go home for the first time in years. I love the turn this one takes. Mark Allan Gunnells’s “O Little Town” sees couple Kevin and Mike taking in their suddenly-very-pregnant neighbor Peggy. Unfortunately for them, the father wants in. Content warning for gory sexual content. Mackenzie Kiera’s “A Total Super Miracle on 34th Street” is absolutely hysterical and very dark. Merry is a fantastic point of view character, and she’s just been dumped by her boyfriend on Christmas Eve. He even had the audacity to tell her that his mother hates Merry’s cooking! Alan Baxter’s “The Bone Fire” is every bit as good as his longer works. Davie has brought his girlfriend, Katie, home to meet his parents at the holidays. His family has some very peculiar traditions. Kathryn E. McGee’s “A Winterland Surprise” introduces us to Samantha, a rather lonely woman who directs the Christmas Eve pageant. When a handsome man with a puppy invites her to take a walk with him, she suddenly sees a different side of Christmas. “Der Ewich Yaeger” by Alessandro DiFrancesco involves fiancees Layla and Otto going back to his family home. Otto seems very embarrassed by his Aunt Brigid, who claims to be a witch, but Layla finds her both sweet and fascinating. I love the ending of this one; it’s quite beautiful. Greg Sisco’s “The Morbs” is a great look at a town that has no choice but to celebrate Christmas with a great deal of good cheer! Clara Madrigano’s “She’s Back” sees Auntie Kate come back to town for Christmas. Blake and her girlfriend Meg actually rather like Auntie Kate, and because of that, Kate does something nice for them. Jonathan Duckworth’s “Elmreach” introduces us to Daphne, who has become engaged to Ethan after one week of knowing him. Ethan’s slovenly brother Carl suggests that there might be a problem there, but he also seems resigned to the idea that he can’t really help. Max Carrey’s “Christmas In Quail’s Egg” is another story about someone going home for the holidays, only to find out that the town is not as they remember it. The rest of the stories had one or two problems that pulled me out of them or just felt not-quite-right. Brian Keene’s “The Hatching” (an Easter tale) felt like it needed a little more to it. Gina Ranalli’s “Rainbow Black,” while a great story of found family vs. blood family, felt a little too tongue-in-cheek for me. Bev Vincent’s “An Invisible Christmas Spectacular” had too little information about what was happening and how; even a few more details about the residents of the mysterious mansion would have been welcome. Kelly J. Ford’s “Frito Pie” started out kind of… weird, even if it did end wonderfully. Magnolia Strock’s “Feu de Joie,” a story in which Dan loves the Fourth of July and his pregnant wife Jessica does not, really didn’t have enough solidity to it for me to enjoy. The ending of Fred Venturini’s “The Christmas Cabin” ended kind of weirdly for me. The characters in Sheri White’s “The best Christmas Town in Maryland!” seemed too one-note, although there’s some nice bloody fun involved (content note for child death). Jillian Bort’s “A Wail of a Christmas” sees adult Jenny’s mother Alicia inviting her high school boyfriend to Christmas dinner, and Jenny thinks her embarrassment will be the hardest part of the night; the ending for this one was kind of out of nowhere. Overall this is a wonderful anthology, and will make a great read for the holidays! Content note: child death, animal harm/death, gory sexual content, and gore in general. Original review posted on my blog: https://www.errantdreams.com/2021/03/...

  6. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

    What an awesome holiday adventure, just finished the day after Christmas! There was something for everyone in this anthology, even those who don’t go in for what they consider the “horror” genre. This is a book for everyone. There are some real psychological scares, a few traditional jump scares, twists and turns, love stories, pain, redemption and classic ghost story. Starting with the very first story “The Morbs” by Greg Sisco, I was drawn in. This could arguably be my favorite in the book. I k What an awesome holiday adventure, just finished the day after Christmas! There was something for everyone in this anthology, even those who don’t go in for what they consider the “horror” genre. This is a book for everyone. There are some real psychological scares, a few traditional jump scares, twists and turns, love stories, pain, redemption and classic ghost story. Starting with the very first story “The Morbs” by Greg Sisco, I was drawn in. This could arguably be my favorite in the book. I know people who don’t go in for that holiday spirit gig every year and he wrote Rebecca perfectly. She’s snarky and independent, sometimes rude but very very likable. The story itself was filled with all kinds of Christmas details like a red velvet curtain that hides the Christmas tree until Christmas morning. You wonder what else is behind that curtain.... If you’re looking for some body horror and especially If you’ve given birth and know the real horror...haha...check out O Little Town by Mark Allan Gunnels. This was a short sweet and terrifying monster? Demon? tale about being neighborly. Or maybe just a lesson to not answer the door late on Christmas Eve. What Happens in the Dark Will Soon Happen in the Light by Michael Harris Cohen is a story about a soldier coming home from war....and bringing something with him. I also found it’s subtle hints at PTSD enlightening. This is a disease that many suffer from, especially our soldiers and bringing it to light in fiction is important. Another favorite of mine is Holiday Traditions by Cina Pelayo. I love a twist on the traditional holiday dinner. And the references to displaying “dead things” as decoration on Christmas....aka the Christmas tree was so clever. Especially with the origins of the family. Loved this one! 5 stars to a perfect way to spend the holidays with ghosts, monsters, demons, bad boyfriends, ghouls and cannibals!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Scott

    If you follow Gabino Iglesias online you will know how quickly this collection was put together and that those rejected for it were sent personalised rejection messages in the process. The speed with which this was put together and the work put in meant I had to check it out even if I've never actually watched a Hallmark Christmas film before. That plus Todd Robinson!! The majority of the stories revolve around Christmas and there is a shade of blood red plastered throughout the stories. The writ If you follow Gabino Iglesias online you will know how quickly this collection was put together and that those rejected for it were sent personalised rejection messages in the process. The speed with which this was put together and the work put in meant I had to check it out even if I've never actually watched a Hallmark Christmas film before. That plus Todd Robinson!! The majority of the stories revolve around Christmas and there is a shade of blood red plastered throughout the stories. The writers manage to vary the set up of the story with the majority happening in a picturesque small town, but with horror elements that will soon come to the fore. Some of my favourites were The Morbs by Greg Sisco, The Bone Fire by Alan Baxter, Rainbow Black by Gina Ranalli, Somebody Always Hears You by Elizabeth Hirst, What Happens in the Dark Will Soon Happen in the Light by Michael Harris Cohen and the tender and suspenseful Mother and Child by the aforementioned Todd Robinson. Any of the stories is a winner though and I would urge you not to wait until next Christmas to pick this one up.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Angel Dey

    Great selection of stories There were a lot of different moods in this anthology and definitely something for all flavors of horror. It started off really well with that gritting-your-teeth, let’s get Christmas over with feeling from a character who needed to learn how to embrace Christmas or else. I loved that there were funny stories mixed with sad & thoughtful stories all with a dash or sometimes buckets of horror. I loved the use of little-known folklore monsters mixed in with your typical m Great selection of stories There were a lot of different moods in this anthology and definitely something for all flavors of horror. It started off really well with that gritting-your-teeth, let’s get Christmas over with feeling from a character who needed to learn how to embrace Christmas or else. I loved that there were funny stories mixed with sad & thoughtful stories all with a dash or sometimes buckets of horror. I loved the use of little-known folklore monsters mixed in with your typical monsters shown in a different light. The last story was by far the most intense for me and definitely a really great way to end the anthology. I actually had to put the book down because the suspense was driving me mad. I picked it up again really fast because I had to know. Then I got teary-eyed. Then I was sad to find out I’d read everything. This book definitely won’t disappoint.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Stephen Howard

    Fantastic festive horror It’s rare to find a collection of short stories this numerous that doesn’t contain a weak story, but here we are. These stories are creepy, steeped in the genre in a loving way, and perfect for the season. I’m sure these would work all year round, but I am pleased I read them over Christmas. The first and last stories were, I think, standouts. I’ll look forward to reading future Cemetery Gates/Gabino Iglesias collaborations.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Cris Morris

    There are a lot of great stories in this anthology. It was quite an impressive feat, given that Gabino put the idea out on Twitter, and edited this anthology in a few weeks. Most of the stories revolve around Christmas, which is to be expected, I suppose, since the anthology was announced in November, and released in December. This anthology works well with its solid theme.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

    Christmas Cracker Scenes of over the top good cheer, snow, twinkling lights and festive romance, mutate to turn the winter wonderland into a blood-soaked bonanza. Santa baby takes on a while new meaning! Wonderful fun read.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Kailey

    This was such an imaginative collection of horror stories. I love hallmark movies and this twist on familiar tropes was fun and a dark take on typical festive stories.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Janet

    All of the stories were really good, but the first one was my favorite.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Brendan

  15. 5 out of 5

    Clay

  16. 5 out of 5

    Theresa Derwin

  17. 4 out of 5

    Josh

  18. 5 out of 5

    Ann Stiles

  19. 4 out of 5

    Gerardo Pelayo

  20. 5 out of 5

    Leire Rogel

  21. 4 out of 5

    Valerie

  22. 4 out of 5

    Frederic

  23. 5 out of 5

    OTIS

  24. 5 out of 5

    Cynthia

  25. 5 out of 5

    John Lynch

  26. 5 out of 5

    Alex

  27. 4 out of 5

    Clara Madrigano

  28. 4 out of 5

    Ilana Singerman

  29. 5 out of 5

    👑 💀

  30. 5 out of 5

    Corey Wallis

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