Wednesday 1 February 2023

Yuletide Thrills - Rebecca Cantrell - A Christmas Anthology

Yuletide Thrills: 
A Christmas Anthology
eISBN 1230005898343

It has been seven years since I read a book by Rebecca Cantrell. Back in 2015 I read a few of the Order of the Sanguines series co-written with James Rollins, that was shortly before a major work project and then a switch in jobs and her works fell off my radar. After reading this excellent collection of short stories I have already picked up 2 of her other volumes, and plan to read all of her published works, both those under this name and the two under the pen name, Bekka Black. This collection of stories ia wonderful. It shows the breadth and depth of Cantrell’s writings. When Rebecca first tweeted about this volume being in the works I was instantly hooked. And the collection did not disappoint! 

The description of the collection is:

“Do you like your Christmas stories naughty or nice? Award-winning and New York Times bestselling author Rebecca Cantrell dishes out both in this anthology of four never-before-seen stories and two published favorites, all inspired by beloved Christmas songs. Like Christmas day, the collection starts in the bright light of morning and the stories get darker as the day wears on. Get ready to put on your headphones, queue up the holiday songs and experience some Christmas magic.

In TWINKLE, follow Joe Tesla and his dog Edison through a New York Christmas. When Edison rescues a lost kitten on the subway, Joe has to find the kitten’s owner before Christmas, and he doesn’t even know the little girl’s name. Suggested song pairing: Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star (Christmas).

The boy in WHEN WE HAVE GONE ASTRAY gets a talking Buzzy for Christmas. But the toy is learning more than how to speak--it’s coming alive! Suggested song pairing: God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.

The main character in HOME FOR CHRISTMAS is definitely not going to make it there. A programmer on an oil rig prison discovers too late what he’s been building. Suggested song pairing: I’ll Be Home for Christmas with Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer to finish.

WHITE CHRISTMAS first appeared in Dark Discoveries under the title “Caulbearer.” When a man tells his divorce lawyer that what he really wants is to experience true connection, he hasn’t yet learned to be careful what he wishes for. Suggested song pairing: White Christmas.

I SAW MOMMY KISSING SANTA CLAUS first appeared in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine. A boy’s mother kisses Santa Claus and then disappears. When he follows her footsteps out into the snow, they end in the middle of the yard. Did Santa take her? Suggested song pairing: I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus.”

The sections and stories in the volume are:

Twinkle (A Joe Tesla Christmas)
When We Have Gone Astray
Home for Christmas
White Christmas
I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus
Excerpt from my latest novel “The Girl Who Would Live Forever”
About the Author

I can easily say I enjoyed each of the stories in this collection. My son saw me reading it and asked about it so I described the premise as outlined by Cantrell and he asked if he could read it. I said to wait and see as it is mentioned that each story gets darker. As Cantrell states in the Introduction:

“Since Santa gives better presents to nice kids than naughty ones, the link was inescapable: I wasn’t good enough. How else could I explain that the kid down the street got a bicycle from Santa and I got a packet of construction paper and an orange? I knew my parents didn’t have enough money for fancy gifts, but surely Santa could afford to splash out. Since he saw everything, he had to know that I needed some new toys. If he didn’t bring them, I must be doing something wrong. I was too naughty. Even if that little kid with the bike was a bully, somehow, he was nicer than I was. The year I learned that there was no Santa Claus I felt so relieved.”


“I hope you enjoy my takes on the music and they bring some cheer and fear to your holiday experiences. For each story, I provide a link to the version of the song that inspired it so you can bop along and wonder if Christmas music is the best therapy or the worst. I’ll warn you that the stories get darker as you read so you can dose yourself accordingly, because reading, after all, is the best therapy. May your reading experience be both merry and dark!”

Each story does indeed get darker. I read the volume over new years and it was a great read to ring in the New Year. As mentioned this is an excellent collection. I can easily recommend it for mature readers. I told my son maybe in a year or 2. This is a collection of 5 great stories that I can easily recommend! But be warned you might become addicted to Cantrell’s stories and end up with many of her books on your wish list or ‘to be read’ pile.

Books by Rebecca Cantrell:
The Man in the Attic
A Time of Night and Fog
Cigarette Boy and Other Stories

Joe Tesla Series:
The World Beneath
The Tesla Legacy
The Chemistry of Death
The Steel Shark

Hannah Vogel Series:
A Trace of Smoke 
A Night of Long Knives 
A Game of Lies 
A City of Broken Glass 
Hannah Vogel Short Stories\Novella’s:
Cigarette Boy

As Bekka Black:
iMonster Series:

The Order of the Sanguines Trilogy with James Rollins:
0.5 City of Screams
2.0 Innocent Blood
3.0 Blood Infernal

Tucker Wayne Series with Grant Blackwood:
The Kill Switch
War Hawk

Malibu Mystery Series with Sean Black:
"A" is for Actress or "A" is for Asshat 
"B" is for Bad Girls 
"C" is for Coochy Coo 
"D" is for Drunk 
"E" is for Exposed 
"F" is for Fred 
"G" is for Groovy 

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