Season of Wonder – Edited by Paula Guran

season of wonderSeason of Wonder is a winter holiday themed anthology, bringing together fantasy and science fiction stories centred around the darkest months. Christmas isn’t the only holiday contained in these stories, but it is the most prominent. Still, as a whole, I think this is a great festive read.

The stories vary enough to give a little something for everyone, with a mixture of science fiction, fantasy, and even some horror elements thrown in. There’s robots caring for the last man on Earth, a post-apocalypse society ruled by religion, a young boy who stands against an evil elf, a young woman who gets caught in the battle between the Holly and Oak king, a woman on a distant planet introduces the inhabitants to Christmas, and a story of mental health, a woman who believes in magic, told through the eyes of her best friend.

The absolute stand out story for me was The Christmas Witch, a story which uses horror and fantasy to do one of my favourite things those genres are capable of; drawing parallels to very real situations, and reflecting issues often faced, especially by younger people. In this story, a young girl grieves the death of her mother, and lashes out in her own way, but the adults all seem to turn a blind eye. Her father tries to help, but not in the best way, and no one actually listens to her. It’s a fantastic read, and one hard to forget.

Pal Of Mine was also particularly good, one of those stories where the fantastical element is in doubt, right until the very end. It was wonderfully written, and very bittersweet.

Home for Christmas is a very sweet story, about a young woman who can talk to objects. It’s wonderfully written, draws you right in with the MC and her unusual ability, and shows how even small acts of kindness can have a lasting impact.

Others I particularly enjoyed, and would have liked to have read more about their worlds, were The Night Things Changed and The Nutcracker Coup. Both wonderful tales with fantastic world building, especially for short stories.

Everytime I think I’ve listed the ones I really liked, more pop into my head. Okay, last one, I swear. Newsletter, the final story in the anthology, is another great read – it’s witty and engaging and had me laughing out loud at the last line. And it’s a really interesting way of telling the story, combined with an uncertainty at the end, leaving the reader with multiple questions, and no answers except for whatever they decide in their head.

I really do recommend this collection. It has interesting portrayals of Christmas and the various aspects associated with the holiday, with more than one take on Santa Claus and the legend of. It was an enjoyable, fun, sometimes downright dark collection, with stories to both warm your heart on these cold winter evenings, and make you snuggle under the covers, glad you’re safe in your bed.

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