Winterwood by JG Faherty is a Christmas fairy tale horror story from Samhain’s childhood fears series and is set on the 23 December way back in 1979. Set to be published on the 5 May, I would have to question why a Christmas horror story is being released at this time of the year but maybe that’s just me.
Do you believe in the old tales passed down through the generations about the Holly King and the world of Winterwood, a world beyond the veil. The paths between these worlds open for the celebration of Yule, the three longest nights of the year. It’s the time when the Holly King’s reign over the world comes to its annual end. On each of the three nights of the solstice, Krampus, the Holly King, takes his forces out on the Wild Hunt. He travels the world on an enormous stag, with his hounds and his soldiers by his side. Looking for children not tucked up in a nice warm bed and who may well end their days tucked up in a nice warm pie.
No one in Anders Bach’s family believed his old tales of Winterwood, Yule cats and Elfin, the hunt for children foolish enough to be out on the nights before Christmas. That's all about to change when his two young grandsons disappear and Anders discovers the back door wide open. His daughter and her husband have to believe, to stand any chance of getting them back and it’s through the veil to Winterwood they must go.
So they end up in a world that exists too few, a world that exists purely from belief and full of creatures that will eat you before even looking at you. My favourite part of the story was when they arrive in Winterwood and hide in a house they assume to be empty.
Empty it is not, though, lives an elf there and Yoda he is, on a break from his Star Wars shenanigans. He talks like our old green Jedi friend anyway, most of the time with lines like "Lucky you are for choosing my home to hide in" and "Had it been any other, prisoners by now you would be". Certainly bought a bit of humour, intentional or not.
That and the fact we have an old grandfather running round trying to escape hounds, witches and the Holly King himself with the aid of a few angina tablets to get him over the worst of it left a hefty dose of disbelief. Far fitter than most and that's a fact. Can they rescue the children before the veil closes and they are left as part of the menu for Winterwood's festival? Got to say I didn't really care either way.