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The Twelve Strange Days of Christmas

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Christmas is around the corner...so too are all manner of spooky apparitions at the Essex Witch Museum Feisty Rosie Strange can't seem to catch a break. The past always seems to come knocking in Adders Fork, forcing her and partner Sam Stone to investigate. In this collection of twelve short stories, Rosie and Sam are seen to do battle with all manner of creepy ghosts.


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Christmas is around the corner...so too are all manner of spooky apparitions at the Essex Witch Museum Feisty Rosie Strange can't seem to catch a break. The past always seems to come knocking in Adders Fork, forcing her and partner Sam Stone to investigate. In this collection of twelve short stories, Rosie and Sam are seen to do battle with all manner of creepy ghosts.

30 review for The Twelve Strange Days of Christmas

  1. 5 out of 5

    Paromjit

    When I chose to read this short story collection featuring Rosie Strange, partner Sam Stone, Adders Fork and the Essex Witch Museum, I was unaware that I had already read and reviewed many of the stories in The Strange Casebook, published in 2018. These include Snowy, Death Becomes Her, She Saw Three Ships, Madness in A Coruna and The House on Savage Lane. So I read the remaining stories, of the odd, the strange, the ghostly, the supernatural, and the mayhem in the festive season. Septimus, When I chose to read this short story collection featuring Rosie Strange, partner Sam Stone, Adders Fork and the Essex Witch Museum, I was unaware that I had already read and reviewed many of the stories in The Strange Casebook, published in 2018. These include Snowy, Death Becomes Her, She Saw Three Ships, Madness in A Coruna and The House on Savage Lane. So I read the remaining stories, of the odd, the strange, the ghostly, the supernatural, and the mayhem in the festive season. Septimus, inspired by an Icelandic headress, recounts his war time trip to Reykjavik, and his experiences with a shaman on a volcano. Cliff felt a sense of relief when his mother in law passed away, but an accident with an urn with her ashes has him desperately trying to rid himself of the hoover, but can he really be free of her? Errors are easily made, something Janet is forced to concede when on Boxing Day, she and Matt, the social worker, visit Norah's home after her death, and endeavour to deal with the cats. Christmas festivities at the Witch Museum result in mayhem, the destruction of the sleigh that Rosie had put together, and a demon or is Springheeled Jack? A mother walks barefoot in the snow to see her children, Edmund and Christabel. Carole Christmas is a miserly and mean woman, with not a bone of generosity in her, not for her staff and not even for her son, Benjamin. She is visited by the recently deceased at Christmas and begins to see the error of her ways. If you have read none of the Strange short stories previously, this is a great collection to read this time of the year. Syd Moore weaves a engaging story with ease, I particularly enjoyed Septimus and his encounters with an Icelandic shaman, poor Cliff's efforts to be free of his mother in law, and the echoes of Dicken's A Christmas Carol, with Carole seeing her future, the specially reserved place in hell awaiting her, and finding the inner resources to shift direction. The story of the cats is a little in the macabre side. If you are looking for the spooky, weird, ghosts and more for the festive season, then this just might fit the bill. Many thanks to Oneworld Publications for an ARC.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Whispering Stories

    Book Reviewed on www.whisperingstories.com The Twelve Strange Days of Christmas is a short story collection featuring as you have probably guessed twelve different stories, some are ghostly, some supernatural others are completely baffling and strange. I haven’t read anything by this author before so all the stories were new to me, although I do know that this book features some stories from her previous books, just in case you have read them. The book opens with Septimus and the Shaman which Book Reviewed on www.whisperingstories.com The Twelve Strange Days of Christmas is a short story collection featuring as you have probably guessed twelve different stories, some are ghostly, some supernatural others are completely baffling and strange. I haven’t read anything by this author before so all the stories were new to me, although I do know that this book features some stories from her previous books, just in case you have read them. The book opens with Septimus and the Shaman which features elderly curator Septimus Strange telling younger Sam about his time in Iceland during the war when he was told to interrogate a local Medium upon a volcano who had predicted recent events before they occurred and his unusual encounter with the man and some predictions that he had made about his life. The stories are of varying lengths, some are several pages, other just a few. As with all the short story collections that I have read, there are a few which I really enjoyed and a few which I found hard going. My personal favourite has to be the one shortlisted for the Crime Writers Association Short Story Daggers, ‘Death Becomes Her’, which is nothing like the movie. Death Becomes Her is about Police Officer Stacey Winters who can see death, she can see the people he visits and after trial and error realises that there is nothing she can do to stop him. It reminded me of something I read a long time ago about you can’t cheat death and that if you interfere in the process it will always find another way. Another of my favourites is Snowy about an elderly lady alone at Christmas except for her cats, she is happy but longs to be with her husband who has passed away. I wasn’t sure going into this book how I would feel about it as I like strange, unusual stories, yet I don’t particularly enjoy far-fetched horror books and often short stories are a let down too as there is not being enough in them to grab hold of me. However, most were enjoyable in this collection, although I will say that for the title most are not very festive. Overall if you like books that are a little out there and different, this would be a great book for you.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Hall

    At just under 200 pages, The Twelve Strange Days of Christmas is a collection of short stories - one for each day of Christmas - that are a mix of spooky, bizarre, entertaining and rather dark encounters ideal for a winter’s night. Six of these tales were issued in 2018’s ebook release, The Strange Casebook, whilst the other six are new. Having never read Syd Moore or the Essex Witch Museum series of stories which she writes I wasn’t sure how I would fare with this book although the good news is At just under 200 pages, The Twelve Strange Days of Christmas is a collection of short stories - one for each day of Christmas - that are a mix of spooky, bizarre, entertaining and rather dark encounters ideal for a winter’s night. Six of these tales were issued in 2018’s ebook release, The Strange Casebook, whilst the other six are new. Having never read Syd Moore or the Essex Witch Museum series of stories which she writes I wasn’t sure how I would fare with this book although the good news is that only one of them demands a familiarity with the characters of the series, even if two others do refer to individual pre-established characters. The disappointingly news is that I found the overall quality of the collection rather hit and miss with some impressing, others wryly amusing and several more leaving me non-plussed and rather bemused. On the whole though, this is a varied and solid collection with about half of the twelve stories making a significant favourable impression on me. Standout stories for me were the short and poignant ‘Snowy’, a simple tale of an eccentric cat lover wiling away her old age with her feline companions. ‘Death Becomes Her’ is a snarky gallows humour tale of fresh-faced police officer Stacey Winters attempting to second-guess death after some miserable early experiences in life. ‘Easily Made’ is a blackly comic look at two social workers doing the rounds on Boxing Day and left me smirking, whilst ‘In The Bag’ is a worthy new spin on the nagging mother-in-law and short family drama combined. ‘The House on Savage Lane’ is satisfying gruesome with a twist that is practically guaranteed to creep up out of nowhere and catch the reader unawares, but in the same vein, ‘Jocelyn’s Story’ is a twisted tale of a beautiful lady and her aspirations for Betty Grable’s vital statistics that doesn’t quite have the surprising punch of the former story. Of the lengthier tales, it was only ‘Madness In A Coruña’ that captivated me with a traditional ‘gather round the fireplace’ ghostly tale of a forty-something divorced academic travelling to see an old university acquaintance in Spain and indulging in good food, wine and hopefully music. This brought to mind the work of M.R. James and was a notable highlight. Meanwhile ‘A Christmas Carole’ is a predictable story of a curmudgeonly landlady finally discovering some Christmas cheer. ‘Christmas Eve at the Witch Museum’ is also one of the longer stories and is narrated by Rosie, a regular of the Essex Witch series, with the local community of Adder’s Fork featuring heavily, thereby relying on knowledge of the established series for comprehension. As a new reader I was completely left behind on the in jokes of the Forker’s and rather underwhelmed. ‘We Saw Three Ships’ features Ethel-Rose Strange travelling to the Cornwall coast ahead of her family on Michaelmas Eve and meeting some inhospitable locals. Ponderous and occasionally confusing, this story left me unmoved, rather like the ‘Septimus and the Shaman’, in which nonagenarian Septimus Strange recounts his experiences with the dark arts of Iceland during the war. Given that that the tales I least enjoyed featured the regular Essex Witch Museum characters and my overall rating is a middling three stars I doubt I will explore Syd Moore’s series, although given that eerie ghost stories and tales of peculiar encounters are always highly subjective I would be more than willing to try more of the author’s non-series work. An enjoyable collection of diverse stories, occasionally gruesome, haunting or unsettling, with Syd Moore showing a talent for capturing a range of narrative voices.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Samantha

    I had high hopes for this collection, but alas, it hit on a huge pet peeve of mine regarding its misleading title and marketing: Mentioning the word Christmas or casually stating in a story that it is Christmastime does not make the piece a Christmas story. This is the case with almost every tale in this collection. I might have been able to forgive that had the material been better in a general sense, but the stories largely lack originality and display very little of the creepiness they attempt I had high hopes for this collection, but alas, it hit on a huge pet peeve of mine regarding its misleading title and marketing: Mentioning the word Christmas or casually stating in a story that it is Christmastime does not make the piece a Christmas story. This is the case with almost every tale in this collection. I might have been able to forgive that had the material been better in a general sense, but the stories largely lack originality and display very little of the creepiness they attempt to claim. Moore writes well from a technical standpoint, but the material was flat and the premise it is being marketed under is misleading. A final warning to readers: Several of the stories here are duplicates from other Moore collections. *I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.*

  5. 4 out of 5

    David Harris

    I'm grateful to the publisher for a free copy of The Twelve Strange Days of Christmas to consider for review. These are short stories which take place in the world of Moore's Essex Witches novels - supernatural thrillers focussed on Rosie Strange and her family museum in the village of Adder's Fork, Essex. The Strange family and its history entwine with that of the Museum which is itself a slightly uncanny place. The stories fit with the wider series in a number of ways, variously taking place in I'm grateful to the publisher for a free copy of The Twelve Strange Days of Christmas to consider for review. These are short stories which take place in the world of Moore's Essex Witches novels - supernatural thrillers focussed on Rosie Strange and her family museum in the village of Adder's Fork, Essex. The Strange family and its history entwine with that of the Museum which is itself a slightly uncanny place. The stories fit with the wider series in a number of ways, variously taking place in Adder's Fork, featuring minor characters from the books or members's of Rosie's family (including Septimus himself), narrated to familiar figures or, in a couple of cases, I think anticipating future books. A couple are not, perhaps, strictly ghost stories but they slot in very nicely with the general theme which is of course death is a common - death anticipated, death mourned, death overcome - death awaited. The collection does feature some stories which were in The Strange Casebook published last year but there are as many new ones, and the older stories stand up very well to rereading. If you've read and enjoyed the Essex Witch Museum books you'll have the chance to spot how the stories fit in to that world. Septimus and the Shaman sees Septimus Strange recounting a wartime episode that took place while he was on active service. As well as shedding light on just what he got up to at that time (and perhaps his wider connections with the Establishment) it also contains a warning and some hints about Rosie's future. Snowy is a gentle hymn to death and loss and perhaps - perhaps - to consolations beyond. The House on Savage Lane, and Jocelyn's Story are stories of a slightly different kind, the sort where the revelation of what is really going on is what drives the horror (even if you'd begun to guess as I did for the first, not the second) so I won't say much about them. I think they look forward to potential future Witch Museum mysteries. I especially found Jocelyn's Story to be genuinely strange and unsettling. The House on Savage Lane was a bit more conventional but still had a couple of effective twists. Easily Made is a kind of sequel to Snow, introducing a different kind of horror. In the Bag is a classic ghost story, with a humorous twist on death and revenge. Death Becomes Her focuses on a policewoman we have seen before, and perhaps explains a bit about her. She Saw Three Ships is a delight, a whole story featuring Ethel-Rose and taking place in that most ghost haunted and uncanny of English counties, Cornwall. What happens when the locals make you unwelcome on the eve of a creepy local festival? Well, you dig in and see what happens, obviously. This slice of folk horror is calculated to raise a shiver. Madness in A Coruña is the longest story in the book, and is an effective and creepy ghost story, perhaps with an MR Jamesian bent. An unwary traveller to the Spanish city (yes, the same as in the poem by Charles Wolfe) discovers mysteries. The city seems to be guarded against something. But is it guarded well enough? As this story came to a climax I found myself sitting forward and gripping my Kindle, so tense did it get. Christmas Eve at the Witch Museum is a real joy, a little slice of life at the Museum. It's all much as you'd expect, with Rosie hanging up the mistletoe and thinking thoughts of Sam, some gruesome exhibits on display and a surprise appearance by a very English phantom. Barefoot Through the Snow is a delicious, sad, classic ghost story fitting well into the Witch Museum mythology - the stories of innocent women tormented and put to death - as a mother seeks out her children across the cold, cold fields. It suggests some unfinished business that perhaps Rosie will be able to sort out one day? A Christmas Carole is, as the name suggests, Moore's version of a time hallowed classic, one without which no collection of Christmas ghost stories would be complete. It's familiar, but she also gives it a distinct twist and make sit her own. These are great stories. They will mean most to those who are familiar with the Witch Museum series, but the collection as a whole may be read as an entertaining and chilling group for Christmas. While some have appeared before that was in an e-only version and you'll want a print copy of this to live on your shelves next to the other Strange books, won't you?

  6. 4 out of 5

    Karen Mace

    A short story collection full of the frightening and the fun and I loved the variety of the stories included as they seemed to be a little bit of everything, which was perfect for dipping into on a dark evening - even if it meant I had some rather peculiar dreams/nightmares afterwards!! Linked to the Essex Witch Museum series - of which I still have a couple to catch up with - this collection is a mix of the weird and wonderful, the dark and twisted and all set in a variety of locations and A short story collection full of the frightening and the fun and I loved the variety of the stories included as they seemed to be a little bit of everything, which was perfect for dipping into on a dark evening - even if it meant I had some rather peculiar dreams/nightmares afterwards!! Linked to the Essex Witch Museum series - of which I still have a couple to catch up with - this collection is a mix of the weird and wonderful, the dark and twisted and all set in a variety of locations and featuring a range of different characters! It's not full on horror and gore, but often the more subtle sides to the supernatural, which can often be the most unsettling! My favourites were In The Bag - a possessed hoover anyone?!!!! - and The House on Savage Lane which was the darkest tale for me and quite terrifying! There are ghostly goings on galore, evil cats and the Reaper and I just really enjoyed the different mix of stories and it's just made me even more eager to revisit the Essex Witch Museum series in full - bring on even more weird nightmares for me!!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Claire

    Recap: A collection of short stories Review: As with all short story collections there are some you really like and some you don't. I had a little difficulty placing some of the characters but that just my atrocious memory lol. The first story worried me as whilst I enjoyed the tale, I didn't like the stylistic dialogue very much and it was a slow ponderous intro but there were other gems and I particularly liked the spring heeled Jack Christmas story.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Grace Piper

    Repeats multiple short stories from the previous collection.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Ursula

    I was looking forward to reading this but found myself struggling a little with the first story, which used the classic technique of a respected character telling the tale to a small audience gathered around him. I found this rather slow in pace. But then the stories came thick and fast in a great variety of styles, lengths, pace, tone and plot. A breathtaking ride which culminated in my favourite, a surprisingly heart-warming ghost tale. I've always enjoyed short story collections across many I was looking forward to reading this but found myself struggling a little with the first story, which used the classic technique of a respected character telling the tale to a small audience gathered around him. I found this rather slow in pace. But then the stories came thick and fast in a great variety of styles, lengths, pace, tone and plot. A breathtaking ride which culminated in my favourite, a surprisingly heart-warming ghost tale. I've always enjoyed short story collections across many different genres. I like a collection from a single author as much as edited anthologies and the added advantage is I'm less likely to find ones I have already encountered. I had never read Syd Moore before so every story was fresh. I've found she has written many stories about the Strange family so I expect my initially cool reaction may be because I was not already familiar with the characters and their world.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Yvonne Davies

    An anthology of 12 short stories and this is a new to me author.....When I go into an anthology, I know that there are some stories that I like better than others and this book was no different. Some of my favourites were: Death Becomes Her, a story about a female police officer and her views on death. She Saw Three Ships. The experience that Ethel-Rose had when she rented a holiday cottage for Christmas. Christmas Eve at the Witch Museum a humourous tale of the staff's Christmas Party and the An anthology of 12 short stories and this is a new to me author.....When I go into an anthology, I know that there are some stories that I like better than others and this book was no different. Some of my favourites were: Death Becomes Her, a story about a female police officer and her views on death. She Saw Three Ships. The experience that Ethel-Rose had when she rented a holiday cottage for Christmas. Christmas Eve at the Witch Museum a humourous tale of the staff's Christmas Party and the final story a retelling of a Christmas Carol. As a horror lover, I found this to be a gentle read, so for non horror lover this is a good book to read. Whilst not all Christmas themed, there were sometimes set in a cold winter environment so a good book to read on a dark night in a warm room. I am interested to read more of this series so will check out the books.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Nicola Nicholson

    To be honest,most of these stories are straightforward ghost stories and have nothing or little to do with Sam and Rosie,but it is an atmospheric read and genuinely creepy. Edited to add that,having read some other reviews,I now realise that there are more connections to the Essex Witch Museum than I picked up on,as I haven't read the whole series,but,actually, I don't think it matters. This can be read with enjoyment as a series of spooky short stories and is a perfect read for Christmas time To be honest,most of these stories are straightforward ghost stories and have nothing or little to do with Sam and Rosie,but it is an atmospheric read and genuinely creepy. Edited to add that,having read some other reviews,I now realise that there are more connections to the Essex Witch Museum than I picked up on,as I haven't read the whole series,but,actually, I don't think it matters. This can be read with enjoyment as a series of spooky short stories and is a perfect read for Christmas time while you are busy with other things and perhaps,don't have brain space for anything too complicated.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    An interesting collection of strange, dark and spooky short stories! They were cleverly written and I enjoyed working out what was going on. They made me think and some were quite amusing, some were rather bizarre and some a bit disturbing! I particularly liked the story about the social workers and the cats (Easily Made) and Death Becomes Her about a policewoman was good too! Overall, an entertaining, intriguing selection of stories, though not all were very festive, and I liked some more than An interesting collection of strange, dark and spooky short stories! They were cleverly written and I enjoyed working out what was going on. They made me think and some were quite amusing, some were rather bizarre and some a bit disturbing! I particularly liked the story about the social workers and the cats (Easily Made) and Death Becomes Her about a policewoman was good too! Overall, an entertaining, intriguing selection of stories, though not all were very festive, and I liked some more than others!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Ashley

    I didn't love this. First of all, it does that thing where "Christmas" is in the title and nearly all stories inside have nothing to do with the holidays. Disappointing when you're looking for a seasonal read. Secondly, many just didn't do anything for me. Basically reaching the story early on where the "funny" reveal was actually (view spoiler)[that they'd put down all the neighbours cats instead of the dead lady's cat(view spoiler)[ left a sour taste in my mouth that the book never recovered I didn't love this. First of all, it does that thing where "Christmas" is in the title and nearly all stories inside have nothing to do with the holidays. Disappointing when you're looking for a seasonal read. Secondly, many just didn't do anything for me. Basically reaching the story early on where the "funny" reveal was actually (view spoiler)[that they'd put down all the neighbours cats instead of the dead lady's cat(view spoiler)[ left a sour taste in my mouth that the book never recovered from for me. (hide spoiler)] (hide spoiler)]

  14. 4 out of 5

    Sandra Leivesley

    The Twelve Strange Days of Christmas is a diverse short story collection, all with a supernatural flavour, which is perfect for the festive season. The stories varied in length and were all very different. There was some humour, and some of the stories were quite weird, and I liked some more than others, but this is always the case with a short story collection. An entertaining read just in time for Christmas!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Sara Brown

    I was kindly sent a copy of this by NetGalley. While I enjoyed the stories and got it at Christmas, I wasn't blown away by any of the stories, so much so, I almost instantly forgot them. At this time of year I usually lean towards short stories because I don't have the time to get through a whole novel and it's nice being able to read a story and then putting it down. There are other short story collections I would recommend before this one.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

    A great selection of short stories full of ghosts and spirits that I have loved reading in the lead up to Christmas. The stories all held a little something different and the more I read the more I wanted to keep reading to see where my imagination would take me next. I love a good short story as you dive straight in and you never know what is going to come next and nothing beats a good ghost story this time of year.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Contrary Reader

    Some great stories here, especially She Saw Three Ships and Madness in A Coruna. These had the unease of Aickman colliding with spectre of M R James but with the added bonus of that dark mirth that Helene Tursten busts out in An Elderly Lady is Up to No Good. It’s got that Reece Shearsmith air and I like it

  18. 5 out of 5

    Beccy Thompson

    I received a copy of this book from TBC Reviewers request- Thank you A collection of 12 short stories none of which were actually Christmas themed but you can’t have it all. A really mixed bag when it comes to writing styles, length and content of each story there was very little that tied them all together yet somehow it worked as a whole book A slightly creepy read- thank you

  19. 5 out of 5

    Lindsay

    Well there is no merry Christmas in this collection of short stories full of horror and terror. This is a mixed up bag of stories all set around the dark side of Christmas and the old camp style stories we would tell each other to give our friends nightmares in the dark. They are fun and varied and dark and twisted Merry Christmas.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Angie

    I thoroughly enjoyed this collection of short stories. Syd Moore's writing is so evocative that it lends a magical quality to the tales. The characters throughout this collection are so vibrant they seem real. I haven't read her work before but am eager to now. I would also love to hear "The Twelve Strange Days Of Christmas" in audio format.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Louise

    A bit disappointed that so many of the stories were completely unrelated to characters from within the series; only one features Sam and Rosie, and I had hoped to see more of what the familiar characters get up to between the main books. Nicely written though, and some interesting if slight stories.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Reading Divergence

    4 Stars A tale a day for the 12 Days of Christmastide: read all at once or savor like a ghostly Advent calendar. All are connected in some way to Rosie Strange's Essex Witch Museum and so this collection is included in that series. Beware: some will scare your socks off!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Suzanna Salter

    Most of the stories were enjoyable. The one point I would make is even though they are fictional naming a train station for Cornwall should be a Cornish station in my humble opinion. Apart from that all in all an interesting and enjoyable read. Certainly give this book a go

  24. 5 out of 5

    Spikeybär

    Great cover art, weak content. Cheap rip-off versions of Dicken's "Christmas Carol" and Carpenter's "The Fog" are among the better stories in this mostly rather dull and often distinctly un-christmassy collection. Two stars because it reads fast and is not terribly written.

  25. 5 out of 5

    D. Messing

    This was one extremely entertaining, wild ride of a story! Each and every short story was completely different, yet made sense in the end. I actually read this twice in a row just because I enjoyed the first time so much! These are quite well done and very enjoyable! Thanks for a great read!

  26. 4 out of 5

    Penny-sue Wolfe

    I loved these short stories! My favourite was the one with the cats! Beautifully written and a wonderful Christmas read!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Charlotte

    A fun collection

  28. 4 out of 5

    Ellen

    An interesting mix of short stories, more hit the mark than not. I've not read anything by this author before but dont think that detracted from my enjoyment.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Silvi Mema

    The stories were actually nice. They were strange and interesting. It was a quick read.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Lexi

    A bit of an odd collection - some completely confused me and I gave up, others were ok. Most not Christmassy!

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