The holidays are the happiest time of the year for many people, but in the world of pulp fiction, it also comes with a heck of a lot of adventure. The folks at Pulpwork Press have produced a Christmas special in celebration of this for several years now. The Cedar Rapids Books Examiner was happy to take a look at the 2013 edition of the “Pulpwork Press Christmas Special”.
The anthology opens with “The Third Death of Henry Antrim” by Josh Reynolds. The British author crafts a new adventure of his recurring characters Charles St. Cyprian and Ebe Gallowglass. The team has appeared in several adventures before this, all tending to be Sherlock Holmes style pieces with a heavy dose of the supernatural. This story offers more of the same, but Reynolds’ prose is excellent. The short adventure kicks off the story with a solid kick of action and mystery.
Percival Constantine’s “The Wild Hunt” also features a recurring character for the author. Asami has been a regular supporting cast member of his Myth Hunter series of novels. Of the four stories here, “The Wild Hunt” proves to have the most fascinating lead. Unfortunately, the tale offers little more than a fascinating look at a unique and interesting character. The story really never goes anywhere, instead seeming to serve as a set up for the next novel in the series.
“Malcolm Destroys Christmas” by Russ Anderson, Jr. is the only story in the anthology without a recurring figure (that this Examiner is aware of at least.) The story tells the tale of a kid named Malcolm that decides he hates Santa after not receiving the present he wants one year. His hate eventually leads him to be taken by Krampus, the legendary anti-Santa famous in many European traditions. With Malcolm’s help, Krampus leads a war on the North Pole. It’s completely crazy and more than a little odd, but Anderson’s tale does offer the most uniquely Christmas oriented story in the bunch.
The book closes with Joel Jenkins “The Shadow Killers”. The story brings back Monica Killingsworth, a former enemy of his characters, the Gantlet Brothers. Killingsworth is an assassin, but here she is forced into defending a young girl named Barbel. The novella is easily the most compelling tale in the anthology despite a lack of all but a passing mention of Christmas. The adventure is top notch, the tale is perfectly paced and Jenkins’ prose always holds the reader’s interest. This anthology is worth its cover price alone just for this novella.
In the end, Pulpwork Press has a spectacular anthology here, well worth purchase as a last minute Christmas present for any pulp or adventure fan. It is available in print and digital editions from Amazon.
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