Review: Santa Took Them by William Malmborg

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About Santa Took Them

Christmas Eve 2005. Eight year old Michelle Harper is the only survivor in a horrific massacre that has left her four siblings decapitated, and her mother slowly dying as her innards ooze out onto the second floor landing, the words SANTA TOOK THEM written in blood on the bedroom wall.

Ten years later, having been released from a psychiatric hospital for children, Michelle disappears, her uncle and his girlfriend found hacked to death with a knife before being decapitated, the words SANTA TOOK THEM once again written in blood on the wall.

Dr. Samantha Loomis had no plans for the holidays, and was hoping to spend the time simply relaxing in her home. That all changes when the police begin asking her questions about Michelle, questions that make it fairly clear that they believe her to be guilty of the recent slayings.

No one in Holly Brook, IL has forgotten the horror that unfolded on Christmas Eve all those years ago, and now, as a terrifying blizzard descends upon the small isolated town, and teens begin disappearing one by one, it looks as if that gruesome night was only the beginning.

About the Author

William Malmborg is the author of five novels, Jimmy, Text Message, Nikki's Secret, Dark Harvest and Blind Eye, as well as the short story collection Scraping the Bone: Ten Dark Tales. Future works will include Santa Took Them and A Taste of Pain, as well as an episode in the Linger series published by Braun Haus Media under the pseudonym Edward Fallon. When not writing, William spends time reading, doing puzzles, planting peach trees and looking for ghosts in the 115-year-old farmhouse in Elgin, IL where he lives with his brother Tom and their two cats Toby and Truman.

My Thoughts

I think it's safe to say I have a new favorite holiday horror book. Santa Took Them is everything a guy like me could ask for in a Christmassacre - there's disemboweling aplenty, randy teenagers running amok, dark secrets, and gift boxes filled with severed heads courtesy of a crazy axe-wielding psycho dressed up like St. Nick. Ho ho ho!

Ten years ago, Michelle Harper showed up in her neighbor's house carrying the head of her sibling. Now, at 18, she's just been released from the children's psychiatric hospital into the care of her uncle. No sooner can you say "Merry Christmas!" before a series of attacks, bearing an uncanny resemblance to the Harper family murders, start up again and the cozy, snow-covered town of Holly Brook finds itself gripped in horror once more.

Harper's doctor, Samantha Loomis, arrives to help clear the girl's name, not believing Michelle is responsible for the atrocities that have struck Holly Brook, neither ten years ago, nor now. All fingers, though, are pointed squarely in the missing Michelle's direction and bodies are dropping like an overweight elf through a chimney.

Where author William Malmborg really shines, though, is in keeping the suspense high. There's blood aplenty, but also a creeping dread that shines through beautifully. You know that most of the characters are going to be fodder for the grisly mill, but it's in their executions that Malmborg provides the most squirms, refusing to shy away from the gore and ultraviolence. There's also a few secrets several of the townsfolk are keeping, and they provide some great, well-timed shocks along the way.

Right from the get-go, it's clear that Malmborg has a deep love and affinity for the old school slasher flicks, and Santa Took Them is clearly a spiritual successor to John Carpenter's film, Halloween, right down to this next-generation Dr. Loomis. This is far from a cheap knock-off, though, and Carpenter's work provides merely a template for this homage. Santa Took Them is clearly it's own beast, and a darn good one at that.

Santa Took Them is an excellent Christmas-time horror read, but also a love-letter to the slasher horror film genre with a brilliant serial killer riding front and center. While dark and gruesome, Malmborg crafts a book that is compulsively readable and wickedly entertaining. Whether you've been naughty or nice, you'll surely want to give this a read. Buy it!

Buy Santa Took Them At Amazon

Michael Patrick Hicks

Michael Patrick Hicks is the author of the science fiction novels Convergence, an Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award 2013 Quarter-Finalist, and Emergence. His work has appeared in several anthologies, and he has written for the websites Graphic Novel Reporter and Audiobook Reviewer. In between compulsively buying books and adding titles that he does not have time for to his Netflix queue, he is hard at work on his next story.

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