Review of ‘Chill Tidings: Dark Tales of the Christmas Season’ edited by Tanya Kirk

A marvellously spooky collection of festive stories from the late 19th century to the 1950s. Quite appropriately there are 13 stories, all with supernatural themes. They were all worth reading and a few of them were excellent (marked with asterisks below).

‘A Strange Christmas Game’ by Charlotte Riddell is a good traditional ghost story.

‘The Old Portrait’ by Hume Nisbet has tones of Dracula and The Picture of Dorian Gray. *

‘The Real and the Counterfeit’ by Louisa Baldwin – long-winded tale of ghost monks and a prank gone wrong.

‘Old Applejoy’s Ghost’ by Frank R Stockton is a sweet rather than spooky story which has hints of A Christmas Carol.

‘Transition’ by Algernon Blackwood – the right side of sentimental and a twist on the traditional ghost story. *

‘The Fourth Wall’ by A M Burrage – theatrical-themed story in which sceptics of the supernatural end up changing their minds.

‘The Festival’ by H P Lovecraft is a typically Lovecraftian story with added snow – for me, the stand-out of the collection because of his unique style and the strongly pagan theme. *

‘The Crown Derby Plate’ by Marjorie Bowen – an unusual ghost story with a great twist at the end. *

‘Green Holly’ by Elizabeth Bowen has a war-time setting and engages with perceptions of the romantic past.

‘Christmas Re-union’ by Andrew Caldecott – M R James-inspired mystery of a murderous Santa Claus.

‘A Christmas Meeting’ by Rosemary Timperley is a very short ghost story about being alone at Christmas.

‘Someone in the Lift’ by L P Hartley is a horror story told from a little boy’s perspective.

‘Told After Supper’ by Jerome K Jerome – a fabulous satirical novelette of ghost stories told by a group of friends around a fire – gently poking fun at the conventions of the genre. *

If you’re looking for darker seasonal reading, I recommend this book.

Published in 2020 by the British Library as part of their Tales of the Weird series.

4 thoughts on “Review of ‘Chill Tidings: Dark Tales of the Christmas Season’ edited by Tanya Kirk”

  1. What an unexpected book. It kind of reminds me of Netflix’s The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina’s Christmas special. That odd, almost jarring, mix of dark at a time when you except light. Excellent review!

    1. Thanks! 🙂 I am not into jolly reads so this is the only seasonal kind of reading I do!

  2. It’s a good selection in this one, isn’t it? I always enjoy the mix of well-known names, like Lovecraft and Blackwood, along with some that are less familiar.

    1. Yes, I was very pleased with it as I have found this series in general to be quite mixed! Lovecraft was my favourite.

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