Reading Joshua Skye’s short horror novella Once Upon a Christmas Evil (it’s just over 100 pages long) brought to mind one of my favorite holiday movies—the Halloween horror flick Trick ‘r Treat.
Just like Trick ‘r Treat, Joshua’s novella is essentially comprised of individual stories that are all tied together by one little critter…or in this case, numerous critters. This approach makes for a page-turning read; the stories of these individual characters—all neighbors— are clearly going to intersect, yet they each have their own personal demons (literally) to contend with in their own homes.
First, there is gay couple Mac and Dylan. As a child, Mac, had a terrifying encounter with an evil creature of Christmas…a creature that doesn’t like when little children don’t behave on Christmas Eve. Now, ten years later, Mac is with the love of his life. But he begins to suspect the creature from his Christmas past has come to terrorize him again this Christmas present.
Next, there’s a gay teenager living with his mother. She knows he is gay and is very accepting of him. But there’s something he still doesn’t want her to know; he’s obsessed with the beautiful young gay couple next door and spies on them regularly.
Finally, there’s a single mother struggling with the fact that her little girl has a very dark side. The daughter does naughty things and then blames her doll, which she claims talks to her and tells her to do stuff. But at a holiday party, she pulls a deadly stunt that will forever change the way her mother looks at her.
Did I mention the little Christmas monsters dashing through the snow outside…?
This is dastardly Christmas horror that creates a sense of isolation and dread. Skye gives readers fully realized, relatable characters in a short tale without slowing down the pace. His storytelling is tight, smart, and eloquently written. It captures the spirit of the season yet delivers an incredibly creepy story.
Once Upon a Christmas Evil is a holiday terror treat you can speed through in one sitting. Say, perhaps, on Christmas Eve? It could also easily be turned into an intense Christmas horror movie.