erinxmegan's review

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*This book was kindly sent to me in exchange for an honest review*

This collections of stories are inspired by the stories that were often seen in the 18th and 19th centuries.
You can definitely tell that the gothic genre is very prevalent throughout. I mean its even in the name of the book, so expect to feel that gothic horror vibe.
There are 31 stories and poems inside this collection, all dealing with Christmas and the winter months as a whole. Some involve witches, vampires, otherworldly beings, demons, and of course the main demon of the season Krampus.
Krampus is a horned, half demon half goat, who punishes bad children during Christmas time. He’s basically the anti Santa, Santa rewards the good kids with presents and Krampus punishes the bad ones.
Some of my favorite stories of the bunch were: The Night of Epiphany, Black Lace Binding, Letters to Krampus, A Desk Fit for a Purpose, The Last Noel, The Dark- Eyed Boy, and Here We Come A-Caroling.

This is my first Christmas themed horror book I’ve ever read and I’m so disappointed that I haven’t been reading them every year.
This is such a fun collection of stories and poems. I liked every single story I read in this book and I was so sad to see the end. It felt like Christmas every time I got to start a new story because each story felt like a wonderful present. I wasn’t sure what I was going to get, but I always ended up satisfied.
For having 31 different writings all under 200 pages is crazy! I actually didn’t know how many stories/ poems were in there, but I didn’t feel like it dragged on or felt like too much.
In fact, most of the stories were really short and just got straight to the point. It was actually a really nice pace and it didn’t feel rushed or felt like it was dragging.
I was also surprised with so many different authors how well the stories flowed together and seemed really cohesive.
You could tell that they each had a different voice and writing style, but it worked well and didn’t feel all over the place or disjointed.
The stories that featured Krampus were definitely the most fun, just because I’m really fascinated with Krampus and I haven’t read much involving the Christmas demon.
I feel like I’m always surprised with gothic horror, since I don’t read too much of it, I kinda forget about it. But I need to make it a habit of picking up more books featuring it because I always end up enjoying the plots.
I’m thinking I need to check out every one of the Gothic Blue Books because I enjoyed this so much and I feel like I just need more.

literarylove123's review

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I loved this book. It's quite rare to find an anthology in which I enjoy each story, but this one did it! Some of the stories feature Krampus, while others are focused on winter folklore in general or other creepy things. This will now be an annual December read for me. So much fun!

ericarobyn's review

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challenging dark emotional mysterious sad tense fast-paced


Gothic Blue Book VI | A Krampus Carol edited by Cynthia Pelayo & Gerardo Pelayo is an unsettling collection of short stories and poems that center around the darkness of the holiday season that is usually so jolly and bright in most movies and books.

You’re going to need a hot chocolate or two to sip while reading this one!

Full disclosure: I was given a free copy of this book from the editor in exchange for an honest review. This did not affect my rating in any way.

First of all, how wonderful is that cover art by Abigail Larson?! I’m obsessed with the tone it gives off immediately. The color choices are so perfect and I love how the tongue and the red in Krampus’s eye pops. And just look at those teeth!

This entire collection was wonderful. There are so many tales here with great range from light horror, to the deeply unsettling, all the way to the full-on brutal. I loved never knowing what to expect next!

My favorite stories from the collection include:

  • The Aspirant Heiress by Deanna Baran
  • A Creature Was Stirring by Samson Stormcrow Hayes
  • Black Lace Binding by Laurel Hightower
  • All Through the House by Amanda Cecelia Lang
  • Secret Santa by Gary E Lee
  • All Quiet on the Northern Front by Kara Race-Moore
  • Hell’s Bells by C L Raven
  • Krampus by Austrian Spencer
  • Here We Come A-Caroling by Angela Sylvaine
Here are my thoughts on each tale or poem:

The Aspirant Heiress by Deanna Baran

When a woman is brought home after the death of her father, she also learns her brother had passed. She soon realizes that something dark is going on… 

This one had me so nervous for the main character! I was rooting for her and didn’t want anything bad to happen. The ending was so intense! 

The Night of Epiphany by Nico Bell

When a girl struggles with tradition after her mother passes away, she is determined to do her own thing. But she’s about to learn the consequences…

My heart broke for this poor girl. I can’t imagine the pain she was going through but I totally understand the determination of doing your own thing. What a terrifying ending. 

When the Leaves Go by Die Booth

Wandering around town one day, this man spots a passageway he hasn’t seen before. Little does he know, walking down this path will change his life. 

I loved the pacing of this one! And the description was lovely. It was really easy to fall right into this setting. 

Yule Log by T.M. Brown

Dying of the plague, this older couple are not on the same page. One wants to stay in but the other wants to go get their last rites. Unfortunately only one of them can see the darkness looming.

What a heartbreaking tale! These poor people. 

Candy Cane by Jeff Carter

A short tale about a girl that’s off doing her own thing and isn’t too bothered by the bullies. 

I love that this one equally leaves me satisfied and wanting more. What a creepy ending! 

The Boy Who Tricked Krampus by Malina Douglas

Deciding to be naughty this year, this boy plans to meet Krampus! And oh boy does he get to meet the legend. 

This kid made me chuckle. I could see this one transforming into a longer tale!

Sugarplum by Kevin M. Folliard

When a man is traveling back home, he can’t help but stop in for a drink. After being questioned by the bartender, he quickly regrets the pitstop.

What a great tale about appreciating what you have and making the most of your life without rushing to the next thing.

A Creature Was Stirring by Samson Stormcrow Hayes

When a wicked little boy has plans to steal Santa’s gift bag, things don’t go as planned and the boy meets another Christmas creature. 

This one certainly took a terrifying and brutal turn! Phew!

Black Lace Binding by Laurel Hightower

When a little girl named Claudia finds a book that magically shows one new page at a time, she’s shocked to learn that each scene is something that will happen in her life. Some are fun, everyday events. But when she see’s one of fire and death, she’s spooked. But still, she can’t help but be drawn to the book.

This is such an unsettling plot idea! What would you do if you found a book that could predict what was going to happen? Would you look, or would you hide it away?

Letters to Krampus by Matt Jean

What’s the one wish that his classmates, teacher, and even his own brother have for Christmas this year? For Connor to be punished for his wickedness. Krampus is ready to grant that wish.

While it got my blood boiling to see how this kid was reacting to everything, the visit from Krampus was wonderful.

I Am a Fortress by Shane Douglas Keene

A wonderful poem about a boy protected from the harm that keeps trying to come his way.

All Through the House by Amanda Cecelia Lang

When a boy makes a wish for his abusive father to be taken away, that wish is wonderfully granted. 

What a brutal tale that packs such a gut-punch. 

Secret Santa by Gary E Lee

When curiosity gets the best of this young kid, she meets Santa and leaves the event with a scar…

My goodness, this Santa was TERRIFYING.

A Desk Fit for a Purpose by Madeleine McDonald

When a woman finds a wonderful desk that she plans to sell for MUCH more than she haggled for it, she thinks she has an easy win with this sale. However, Krampus isn’t going to let her get away with her wickedness. 

A Very Good Actress by Sarah Michelson

In this tale, a nanny is sent to a small town to watch the two young children while the parents work. 

This one had some wonderful gothic-horror vibes! But man, wIth how much this character was trying to prove to us that she was nailing the role, I was so afraid for what may happen to the children!

After Krampusnacht by Victoria Nations

I LOVE tales when people team up with Krampus! This one captured such wonderful payback.

When She Visits by Cindy O’Quinn

A heartbreaking little tale of loss.

The Path by Kathleen Palm

This tale was heartbreaking from beginning to end. This poor kid!

The Last Noel by Hailey Piper

When a strange being knocks on the door, the little sister opens it… the older sister takes off after the being that snatched her sister, not knowing whether she will  be able to keep up and bring her sister home safe. 

Phew, that ending!

Queen of the Wassail by Jennifer Quail

A dark tale of sacrifice for the good of the town. 

The Wreath by Monique Quintana

This one was intriguing! I mean, a protective wreath with the face of a doll stitched on that watches out for this girl? I’m in!

All Quiet on the Northern Front by Kara Race-Moore

When a group of young men are sent out to look for supplies during times of war, they run into the enemy. But there’s something else watching them that is far more dangerous that the germans. 

This one was heartbreaking as it covered times of war. The description of the frozen mud alone will send a chill up your spine.

Cast Away Stones by Mary Rajotte

Such a dark tale of devotion and faith and how quickly things can turn when the powerful beings are forsaken.

Hell’s Bells by C L Raven

When Mari Lwyd and her nightmare crew knock on a door, the family has to invite them inside for dinner and drink. But that soon turns to blood and mayhem. 

What a terrifying tale! And that ending!

The Holly King’s Spawn by Sage Ravenwood

A beautiful little poem about the changing of season.

Creature of Darkness by Lawrence Salani

When a creature terrorizes a small town, a man whose son had gone missing is determined to find this creature and end it. But of course, what he finds isn’t what he has expected.

This one was so eerie! The settings the author creates are wonderfully dark and dreary!

Christmas Eve by K.R. Smith

A tale of sheer determination! I caught myself holding my breath a few times while reading this one! At each pass, I feared the worst. 

Krampus by Austrian Spencer

It all starts off as fun and games, but doesn’t it always? When an app that rates children on whether they are naughty or nice goes viral, the naughty children begin to die.

I LOVED this one! What a dark idea and such a brutal storyline. 

The Dark-Eyed Boy by M.C. St. John

A tale within a tale, this one will leave readers reeling! Krampus never forgets…

Here We Come A-Caroling by Angela Sylvaine

When a young girl finds a book of carols, she can’t help but steal it and hide it away, knowing that it is forbidden to sing. Thinking that the tale of carolers coming to take you away was just a myth, she doesn’t fear the danger until it’s on her front steps.

This one was so terrifying! What a world it would be if people were unable to sing, especially at Christmas! 

The Yule Cat by Sara Tantlinger

What a spooky poem to end on! 

My Final Thoughts on Gothic Blue Book VI | A Krampus Carol

It was awesome to read this collection the week leading up to Christmas! But now I think I’ll go watch a cheesy Hallmark movie to lighten the mood a bit. ;-D

Horror fans, don’t miss this one for your holiday reading this year!

charshorrorcorner's review

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"A collection of short horror stories and poems resurrect the spirit of the Gothic Blue Book. Gothic Blue Books were short Gothic fictions popular in the 18th and 19th century."

That's a description that really caught my eye, so when I was offered an ARC, I jumped on the chance and here we are. This anthology has something for everyone, but the connecting thread is Krampus. Who knew these authors could come up with such a variety of stories around this theme? Following are just a few that stood out for me:

THE ASPIRANT HEIRESS by Deanna Baran. A nasty little tale about a wicked stepmother.

A CREATURE WAS STIRRING by Samson Stormcrow Hayes. A tale about a naughty little boy and his cereal.

BLACK LACE BINDING by Laurel Hightower. What reader doesn't love a story about a book?

LETTERS TO KRAMPUS by Matt Jean. You can't trust a little boy to do the right thing when presents are involved!

ALL QUIET ON THE NORTHERN FRONT by Kara Race-Moore. Two sets of soldiers meet Krampus in a bombed out convent. (Krampus is everywhere!)

CHRISTMAS EVE by K.R. Smith. A sad tale about a woman traveling alone with her child through the ice and snow….to a convent.

KRAMPUS by Austrian Spencer. Swipe left for NICE!

HERE WE COME A-CAROLING by Angela Sylvaine. Don't let them hear you sing. This tale knocked me out!

There are several other stories here and some poems as well, featuring WHEN SHE VISITS by Cindy O'Quinn, I AM A FORTRESS by Shane Douglas Keene, and Sara Tatlinger's THE YULE CAT among others, all of them varying degrees of good and great.

I see no way for any fan of dark fiction to dislike this widely varied collection. There truly is something here for everyone! Cheers to Cynthia and Gerardo Pelayo, who curated this volume. It features authors both known and novices, and tales both naughty and nice.

Highly recommended!

Get your copy here:

*I received a paperback ARC from the publisher in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it!*

el_stevie's review

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A mix of truly excellent stories and poems. I do have a soft spot for poetry and those chosen really helped break up the book. I loved the stark rawness of Shane Douglas Keene's 'I am a Fortress', the prose poetry of Cindy O'Quinn's vengeful tale of 'When She Visits' and the heartbreak of 'All Through the House' by Amanda Cecilia Lang.
Favourite stories include 'Sugarplum' by Kevin M. Folliard, 'Black Lace Binding' by Laurel Hightower, 'When the Leaves Go' by Die Booth and 'The Last Noel' by Hailey Piper. That said, I really enjoyed all the stories and there wasn't a bad one among them.

lauriereadslohf's review against another edition

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adventurous dark funny lighthearted mysterious relaxing sad tense medium-paced
  • Strong character development? Yes


This book was such a joy to read.

This is a beautifully curated collection of winter horrors. It’s called A Krampus Carol but only a few of the stories featured that gorgeous horned beast, and that worked for me because I fear a collection consisting solely of Krampus tales might’ve been a wee bit too much Krampus - even for me! Instead, we get a nice mix of gorgeous dark poetry, folklorish creatures, and tales that should be read by a fireplace on a dark wintery night. Too bad I don’t have one, haha! I adored this book so much. Like any collection of this size, I enjoyed some stories more than others but there were no duds, and you know I’d tell you if there were. With that said, I’m focusing on my favorites because if I try to talk about them all this review will be over 1400 words long and no one’s here for that. I honestly had such a difficult time choosing my favorites but that is the best sort of struggle, right?

The Aspirant Heiress by Deanna Baran
This story is the first and it sets an immediate mood. It’s an eerie tale about a young nun in training who is called back home because she’s now an heiress to a fortune. I loved the setting, the atmosphere, the gothic goings-on, everything about it. It immediately feels like you’ve taken a step back in time and you might never want to leave. This one hit all the right notes for me.

The Night of Epiphany by Nico Bell
Anna wants to spend time with her friends on their senior trip but her family has an annual tradition they call Epiphany. Anna plots to make this the final one - and risks the wrath of the mythical witch they must appease. This is a story about the importance of keeping traditions alive. Just like the previous story, this one excels at setting a mood and I think it may just be my favorite mood ever. The one where I walk into the deep dark woods and scream at the sky forever.

When the Leaves Go by Die Booth
A young fellow trying to escape visiting relatives goes for a walk and spies a shop he’s never noticed before. He steps inside and discovers that this is a place that has something for everyone - even your homophobic prick of a cousin and it’s also a place where everyone gets what they deserve. This is a whimsical dream of a story. I sound like a stuck record but this collection is so incredibly ethereal and lovely. This story was a definite favorite.

Yule Log by T.M. Brown
Oh how this story made me laugh but it’s also SO incredibly sad. How did the author manage this? It’s haunting and terribly amusing all at the same time, that’s some mad skill.

The Boy Who Tricked Krampus by Malina Douglas
This is a delightfully macabre tale about a naughty little boy who has an excellent, if maybe not so well thought out, plan to trick Krampus into showing up and wielding his whip. I’m definitely not a fan of bratty kids but I loved this devilish little punk!

Sugarplum by Kevin M. Folliard
A businessman in no rush to return home to the wife and kiddies, steps into a little tavern where sweet drinks are poured, and secrets are revealed and where one gets what one deserves if you’re asking me.