Dark Celebrations by Calvin Demmer is a collection of holiday horror where every story brings something new and unsettling to the table.
Full disclosure: I was given a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. This did not affect my rating in any way.
Let’s dive in!
My Thoughts on Dark Celebrations by Calvin Demmer
I had previously read some of Calvin’s works in other collections, so I already couldn’t wait to dive into this one. But then when I learned it was holiday horror?! My FAVORITE!
As I had guessed, this collection crushes it.
There was an awesome array of dark creatures here! There are ghosts, vampires, werewolves, mummies, mermaids, witches, zombies, ghosts, fire-women, aliens, sea demons, and more!
Per usual, here are my notes on each tale:
Hungry Ghosts – Three Stars
This tale begins with ten things to avoid during the hungry ghost festival, and what a list this was! As the story kicks off, we meet two young adults that are vacationing. But when an evening stroll takes a turn, they realize that this festival is actually very dangerous!
This one was so unsettling. With a short build up, when the action kicks in, it kicks in very suddenly and then it’s a sprint to the end.
Labor Day Hunt – Five Stars
A young man determined to help his Aunt picks up a side gig that seems Tom good to be true. When he arrives at the warehouse, he’s shocked to learn what this job entails…
This one was so sad! What a determined young man. My heart broke for him.
Trick or Death – Four Stars
Out to capture some Halloween pranks on film, this young man wants just one more trick before he eases up on the childish pranking. But if course that last prank goes too far…
I hate pranks. I’ve never found them funny, especially the ones where people get scared. Needless to say, I was so hoping this kid wouldn’t do his last prank!
Thanks Sinning – Three Stars
When a man spends the night with a stranger from a bar, he learns very quickly that he’s in over his head…
Phew! The horror of going home with a stranger is enough, but what happens next is just bonkers!
Three Dead Men – Five Stars
When a woman enters her uncles house after finding the door unlocked, she is fearing the worst. But what she has just walked into is unlike something she would have ever guessed.
I was SO nervous as she entered the house. I kept expecting the worst at every turn. I loved the ending!
Happy Dark Year – Four Stars
On the way to a New Years party, a couple gets into a bit of a fight. Not wanting to deal with the drama, the boy demands the girl get out of the car. He leaves her behind as he heads to the party. Little does he know, she’s not quite done with him.
I loved where this story went! Anytime there’s consequences for poor behavior, I’m always here for it!
Dying Valentine – Five Stars
A man is very late for his date to meet his girlfriends parents when he realizes he forgot his wallet and his girlfriends valentines day gift at home. Turning around, he hits a woman crossing the street. Taking her back to his house to get cleaned up, his girlfriend arrives and he prepares for her to have questions. She’s surprisingly calm… This Valentines Day, he’s about to learn a lot about his girlfriend.
This one is so unsettling! Right from the start, you’ll me anxious for this guy to calm down, but things just get worse and worse for him.
Spring Outbreak – Five Stars
Going on a trip to try to get over her ex, this girl is struggling with sadness in more ways than one. When zombies interrupt the vacation, she tries to survive.
Zombies and sharks?! This story has it all!
She Will Rise – Five Stars
When a woman returns home, she learns that her mother is much sicker than she had thought. But even worse than that, she has to deal with her mothers nasty boyfriend. Of course the boyfriend pushes the woman time and time again until she has had enough.
I loved this one! The first half of the tale is heartbreaking, but the end made me want to jump up and cheer!
Prom Screams – Five Stars
A young man determined to get to prom and show off in front of his friends and ex hires a woman to go with him. Unfortunately this woman has a bit of an off condition. Making a pitstop to get her medication, they attract the attention of one of her fans…
The anxiety that the main character feels will certainly comes through to readers loud and clear here. You’ll read through this story hoping that they can just make it to prom!
Unidentified Fatherly Object – Four Stars
Determined to find out what happened to his father, this boy breaks into a military base to look for clues. What he finds absolutely shocks him.
I was rooting for this kid! I wanted him to find the answers he was looking for and get out of there.
Independence Denied – Four Stars
When a man starts hearing reports of natural disasters all over the world, he brushes it aside and heads to work. But when he sees something strange on monitors at work, his curiosity is piqued.
Phew, that a tale to end the collection with! This one would be great as a longer story as well if the author wanted to roll more in this world.
My Favorite Passages from Dark Celebrations
That was the problem with emotions. They sat on a fine line, always threatening to tip the scale one way or another.
Crack, snap, crack, pop, crack, snap. The symphony of destruction within reached a crescendo as his ribs and other bones gave way to the force. There were burning sensations, and sharp, piercing spikes, with jolts of pain accompanying the orchestra of hurt.
Her mind could only handle one monster at a time.
My Final Thoughts on Dark Celebrations
I just love holiday horror and short stories. As Calvin has combined the two here, I knew I was going to be in for a treat. This collection absolutely rules!
This is a must read for fans of holiday horror.
Snag a copy through Bookshop to help support local indie bookshops:
- Another Warrior in Paradise by Calvin Demmer – The Best of Indie Horror presented by Kevin J. Kennedy
- Forbidden Fruit by Calvin Demmer – The Horror Collection: Silver Edition presented by Kevin J. Kennedy
- New Skulls for the Old Cemetery by Calvin Demmer – The Horror Collection: Ruby Edition from KJK Publishing