I took a break from holiday romances to read something a bit different – a holiday horror-comedy story.
Lussi is out of work and desperate to find another job in publishing. A bizarre set of circumstances leads to her hire and a firm mandate: Lussi must find the next horror superstar to compete with Stephen King, Anne Rice, and Peter Straub. It’s the ’80s, after all, and horror is the hottest genre. But soon, her coworkers begin falling victim to horrific accidents and her secret Santa gift may be the cause.
The Office meets Stephen King, dressed up in holiday tinsel, in this fun, festive, and frightening horror-comedy set during the horror publishing boom of the ’80s, by New York Times best-selling satirist Andrew Shaffer.
Out of work for months, Lussi Meyer is desperate to work anywhere in publishing. Prestigious Blackwood-Patterson isn’t the perfect fit, but a bizarre set of circumstances leads to her hire and a firm mandate: Lussi must find the next horror superstar to compete with Stephen King, Anne Rice, and Peter Straub. It’s the ’80s, after all, and horror is the hottest genre.
But as soon as she arrives, Lussi finds herself the target of her co-workers’ mean-spirited pranks. The hazing reaches its peak during the company’s annual Secret Santa gift exchange, when Lussi receives a demonic-looking object that she recognizes but doesn’t understand. Suddenly, her coworkers begin falling victim to a series of horrific accidents akin to a George Romero movie, and Lussi suspects that her gift is involved. With the help of her former author, the flamboyant Fabien Nightingale, Lussi must track down her anonymous Secret Santa and figure out the true meaning of the cursed object in her possession before it destroys the company—and her soul.
Secret Santa is Andrew Shaffer’s debut horror novel after publishing several satirical and mystery novels. Secret Santa is my first by this author but is unlikely to be my last. This book is nothing if not amusing.
Loosely based on German and Alpine folklore, Secret Santa is a short, quick read that takes place during the holiday season. Filled with pop culture references, particularly around 1980’s horror, this book was an ode to camp and gave me Gremlins vibes (just take a look at that cover).
However, if you are looking for a horror novel that is super dark and scary, Secret Santa is not it. Instead of blood, Shaffer crafts a tale filled with sarcasm and wit. It is quirky fun with a retro flare and a love of all things vintage horror. I even ended up cheering for the evil side of things.
Shaffer’s writing creates an atmospheric, compulsive read. While short in pages, Secret Santa is not short in story. There is a full plot that left me satisfied. Shaffer also does an excellent job capturing the spirit of being the new girl in an office with cliques. I am generally skeptical of male authors writing female characters. But I think Shaffer does a good job here and avoids the clichés and other errors male authors often fall into.
Overall, I found Secret Santa enjoyable and very entertaining. If you are looking for sinister themes and humor, I recommend picking this book up for a short read.
Horror – Holiday
November 10, 2020