Read a NetGalley eARC
Trigger/Content warning: serial murder, dead family, stalking, spiritual abuse, ritual torture (aftermath)
Ro is a struggling writer with a couple of stories and a group of friends who seemed to have come together randomly at a diner during Christmas. They meet for several Christmases more, and each one seems to end worse than the one that came before as the past haunts them.
More creepy than scary, with people proving to be the real horror with folkloric elements woven throughout that makes the reader wonder if there’s sinister spirits afoot or if people are just like that.
The horrors woven throughout the novella definitely veer more into tragedy. At every turn, there’s a desire for something to go Ro’s way, to live up to the moniker of being lucky. She recognizes the role luck has played in her life, even though the results are more about survival than, say, winning the lottery or other grandiose high times of improbability. Instead, it’s dread crumb after dread crumb. Told over several Christmases, each one is worse than the one that came before it, with my personal favorite being the one where she visits an old friend’s estate. It’s creepy, atmospheric, but absolutely cannot be separated from its Christmas setting. Krampus does, indeed, play a role, but I’m not spoiling how that plays out.
It’s nice to see a book about a writer with an accurate representation of the process of becoming one. There’s allusions to the difficulty of querying, how each book doesn’t get the same treatment, and how some projects are easier to write than others. It’s the attention to detail in this and other ways that made this such an enjoyable read for me. Rather spooky, very Christmas, perfect for people who don’t want Halloween to end on October 31st.