Season’s Creepings by Theresa Derwin (book review).

These days, when people talk about pocketbooks, they mean notebooks that tuck into a pocket or bag or, in the case of Americans, the publishing imprint that has given us popular series such as ‘Buffy’ or ‘Star Trek’. They were made the right size for the pockets of coats, before fashion banished them. This is a pocket-sized book, but you probably wouldn’t want to be seen reading it on a bus.


This slim volume was actually published before Christmas and would have made a good stocking filler for the horror fan in your family. It contains six pieces all with a creepy slant.

The first offering, ‘Fifty Hades Of Grey’, is a short story with a topical slant. Most people will have heard of the ‘Fifty Shades…’ books and film even if they have not admitted to reading or watching any of them. Many phenomena have corporations cashing in with merchandising. Four women, friends for nearly forty years, meet up to exchange Christmas presents. Ange presents the others with a small, naked male doll labelled, ‘Grow Your Own Mr. Grey’. They giggle over it, as the instructions urge them to leave the object in water overnight. Once her friends have left, Jo submerges hers in the bath, just to see what will happen. Later that night, she wakes to find a six-foot, gorgeous naked man in her bathroom. Although she initially accepts the unexpected gift, the demon she has grown has underestimated the modern woman. The story itself is nicely told but its topical nature and some of the references in it might date it quickly and, even in five years’ time, the reader might not appreciate all the subtleties.

‘Twas The Night’ is a parody on the original verse but extremely topical. It was obviously written with passion and anger, so it is possible to forgive its shortcomings. It is the kind of thing that would appear in a newspaper at the time of the events. The shame is that it will date even more quickly than ‘Fifty Hades Of Grey’.

In contrast, ‘The Red Queen’ has an historical setting. Elizabeth Barton is enamoured with the stories of Charles Dickens. For some reason, she determines to make his acquaintance and assist him in his writing. What he doesn’t know is that this is the vampire story in the book. The main problem is that this story is far too short. It lacks the space to exploit the richness of the setting. Dickens was a writer who had a talent for storytelling. This story should at last try to capture that. It would also have more impact if the final curtain had come at the time Dickens had embarked on his unfinished opus, ,Edwin Drood,.

With this author, it would be unsurprising to have a collection without a zombie story. ‘Night Of The Living Dead Turkey: Death From Beyond The Gravy’ fulfils this role. The biggest pun is the title and gives an idea of the kind of story that follows. Basically, a mutation of avian flu causes a turkey, plucked and oven ready to resurrect (one assumes it still had a head). The spread of the plague is fast and is told in emails and newspaper reports. It is a good attempt to be different but again suffers from its brevity.

‘Last Christmas’ uses another of the familiar horror tropes but to tell you which one would spoil the punch-line. The male narrator is the one who usually cooks Christmas dinner and he and his wife, Alice, invite unattached friends. One of them, Dave, runs off with Alice, leaving her husband to plot revenge. This story works well at this length.

The final piece, ‘A Contemporary Christmas Carol’ returns to the Dickens’ theme and is a short rant by Scrooge against his creator in modern idiom.

This little book is probably best read with a glass of Christmas cheer and an inclination to be amused. As with most humour, it will not appeal to everyone and if you are sensitive about the language children in your household read, keep it out of their reach.

Pauline Morgan

January 2016

(pub: Knightwatch Press, Kent. UK, 2015. 59 page small paperback. Price: £ 4.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-51-751071-8

check out website: http://knightwatch.greatbritishhorror.com/

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