kikiandarrowsfishshelf's review

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The Milne story is excellent. Sherlock Holmes and several Dickens tales are also included. There is also Dylan Thomas' famous work. The lesser known stories are a bit of a mixed bag, but points for including stories about people who live in the poorer areas of cities.

There is a Lovecraft Christmas poem. Yes, you read that correctly.

callum_mclaughlin's review against another edition

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My low rating for this doesn't necessarily reflect how much I enjoyed the stories that I actually liked in here. The trouble is that there are probably only about 5 stories I could say I properly liked, and out of 20, that's not a great ratio of success.

In fairness, it's an anthology rather than a collection, so I fully expected not to get on with every writer's style, themes, etc. However, my biggest problem is simply that I wouldn't class many of these as 'Christmas Stories' in the first place, and I don't think it's a coincidence that the ones I tended to enjoy most were the ones with the most significant tie-in to the season the book proclaimed to explore, but largely didn't.

Perhaps it's just me, but with a name and a cover like those on the front of this book, I expected most of the stories to be full of cosy settings, festive cheer, and the warm fuzzies. In reality, we get 20 stories that are mostly the complete opposite, most of which at best happen to be set near Christmastime, with one or two passing references to the day or season itself. The truth is that the vast majority of the stories in here could have been set at any time of the year and no details would have changed. As with Everyman's Ghost Stories anthology, I think therefore that the main issue I had with this book was that the editor played it a little too fast and loose with the concept they were given, and that the content simply wasn't what I was looking for from a festive read.

That said, it was worth picking up for the discovery of two authors I hadn't read before - Willa Cather and John Cheever - whose stories titled The Burglar's Christmas and Christmas is a Sad Time for the Poor, respectively, were easily the standouts for me. Cather's offering focussed on the unbreakable nature of a mother's love in wonderful prose, whilst Cheever's portrayed the idea that there's always someone worse off than yourself, no matter how bad things seem, and that the spirit of generosity inspired by Christmas should not be confined to the festive season. I'm intrigued to try more from both of them.

The other stories I enjoyed were Christmas by Vladimir Nabokov, Christmas Fugue by Muriel Spark, and Christmas at Thompson Hall by Anthony Trollope (though it did fizzle out a bit at the end).

So, whilst there are certainly gems to be found in here, it simply didn't deliver what I felt it promised overall, and as such, felt a little underwhelming.