Book Reviews

Light up: #AfraidOfTheChristmasLights, the anthology! @VictoriaSelman #bookreview @Esdas1 @rightsofwomen

My thanks to the wonderful Victoria Selman.

Mark Billingham
Rachael Blok
Heather Critchlow
Elle Croft
James Delargy
Clare Empson
Jo Furniss
Sophie Hannah
T.E. Kinsey
N.J. Mackay
S.R. Masters
Val McDermid
Phoebe Morgan
Dominic Nolan
Robert Scragg
Victoria Selman
Kate Simants
Adam Southward
Harriet Tyce


A Christmas dinner takes a murderous turn, a friendship group loses the festive spirit, and a young girl goes to extreme measures to keep a beloved dog.

Afraid Of The Christmas Lights is a collection of gripping, sometimes funny, and always festive short stories from a group of bestselling crime writers.

From the hilarious to the macabre, there’s something for everyone – whether you’re a Christmas convert or a bit of a Grinch. From a detective tracking down missing Christmas geese, to a cat lady who goes on a date in order to keep Santa Paws well fed, this anthology is the perfect gift to cosy up with this year.

When I say “Christmas” what do you think of?

I think of endless queues, terrible songs, and mandatory gatherings. Or at least, I used to. This year, however, I decided to plan my kind of Christmas, and it started with my favorite authors and their extraordinary flair creating the perfect anthology to match my ideas of what the end of the year can be like!

Earlier in the year, I reviewed Afraid of the Light, my very first anthology, and a real stable of the crime fiction genre to get or to offer. I said then how difficult I found to talk about an anthology, and I will say it again here!

Afraid of the Christmas Light is not a book to get only and ONLY when you hate Christmas. No, no. The twist here is that each participant took something out of Christmas and turned it into something different, something new. The magic turned red. Literally!

The assortment of stories is bound to make you feel. I went through it all: I got a bit scared, I got mad, I had “yikes” moments, but those short fiction pieces all have something in common: they are marvelously written.

I dipped in and out of Afraid of the Christmas Lights, enjoying one or two stories at a time, relishing in the twisted Christmas tales I was receiving from authors I admire. The anthology could not have come at a better time, as it confirmed my opinion that you can choose your Christmas…

Oh, this book was a lot of fun. No romance under the mistletoe, only bits of life (or death), literal or figurative, and always, always a special X factor from the authors.

Under the Mistletoe Last Night by Mark Billingham

Count on Mr Billingham for opening this anthology with a bloody present under the Christmas tree! I found it to be both traditional and original. Yep, I like the contradiction!

The Breadwinner by Sophie Hannah

A very special kind of gift! I was not expecting this but my verdict is: I loved it!

Bad Guy by Kate Simants

This story stirred the most disturbing feelings in me. It was raw and Kate just nailed it.  

An Unexpected Present by Phoebe Morgan

Phoebe Morgan’s writing is recognizable, it’s striking and twisted, one of my favorites!

Just Kids by S.R. Masters

Disturbing by its mundane subject and the reality injected in the story, I couldn’t stop reading. How many times have you had to deal with kids? Let S.R. Masters give you a lesson!

Especially at Christmas by Adam Southward

My Pigs in Blankets! And so much more… I knew there was something off…

The Bedminster Bird Burglaries by T.E. Kinsey

Good old police work! Again, an unexpected story, but so tasty!

Fresh Meat by Elle Croft

I love Elle Croft, and this story just made me love her more, even if I’m more of a dog person than a cat person…

Heavenly Peace by Heather Critchlow

Oh, the family reunion, the smiles, the presents, the remarks, and the feast! The descriptions depicted something so familiar it was easy to create a movie of this story in my mind.

The Switch by James Delargy

My stomach churned and I got goosebumps. Damn switch! Such an excellent piece!

Secret Santa by Jo Furniss

I know that Jo Furniss’s brain is wired in a way that she creates atmospheric and twisted stories that stay with me, and she proved just how good she is with this one! Not sure I’ll play Secret Santa again…

A Dog is for Life, not just for Christmas by Robert Scragg

This story scared me. I am the kind of readers who ask for a trigger warning when animals are involved. I can’t read stories about cruelty on animals. I went in with a bit a fear… and finished it with a different kind of fear in mind!

Driving Home for Christmas by Rachael Blok

The title sounds so comforting, filled with the promise of a happy reunion… Rachael wrote an particular kind of reunion. I won’t forget it!

Smithereens by Dominic Nolan

Who knew being Santa could be dangerous? I really enjoyed this dark tale!

Missteps by N.J. Mackay

Ooooh, this one. I got so mad. Despite the lights and gifts, life is mean and unfair, or some people make it so, and my blood boiled. I remember thinking “I’ll give you Christmas! Ugh!” N.J. Mackay’s powerful story is a delightful punch in the stomach!

The Vigilante by Clare Empson

My heart broke. My reader’s heart bled. Oh Clare!!!

Hunted by Victoria Selman

You can always count of Victoria Selman to surprise you. I was totally immersed in the story, holding my breath, assuming… when I should have known better!!!  

Bloody Christmas by Harriet Tyce

The joys of Christmas… magically transformed by an author who knows what she’s doing!

That’s it, I went through all the stories you’ll find in this anthology to give you a taste of what to expect. The flow of the full book is smooth and makes it really easy to jump from one movie to the other.

I couldn’t be happier to be able to support the work those eighteen authors have done here to support two important charities: ESDAS and Rights of Woman. I urge you to treat you to a copy of this excellent anthology that is the reader’s equivalent of the best box of Christmas chocolate!

Buy your copy here (this is not an affiliate link)

20 thoughts on “Light up: #AfraidOfTheChristmasLights, the anthology! @VictoriaSelman #bookreview @Esdas1 @rightsofwomen”

  1. Wonderful review Meggy. I don’t read a lot of anthologies but there are a lot of authors I like here. I like that they were all so different and evoked such different feelings in you. I want to read this one!


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