What does a writer of dark fiction like myself write for a Holiday blog post? I’m not really a fan of black Christmas fiction, but I do love the comical holiday fairy tale flick, The Nightmare Before Christmas, as well as other weird Holiday films such as the cheesy Santa Claus Conquers the Martians. But since this is more of a literary fiction blog, I thought I would do something in the line of that. I decided to do terrifying toys in speculative fiction that doesn’t necessarily take place during Christmas. So below is a list of mostly horror stories about terrible toys. And I don’t mean “terrible” as in cheap or defected like the Misfit Toys in Rankin/Bass’s “Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer”. I’m talking about terrible toys that the Krampus might bring to naughty boys and girls. Some of them are so terrible that even Krampus may be too nice to bring. Instead he might bring those to evil grownups. The list is in no particular order.
1. “Don’t Ask Jack”, by Neil Gaiman; from his collection, Smoke and Mirrors: In this dark tale, the kids are afraid of the Jack-In-the-Box buried at the bottom of the toy box in their play room. That’s because the Jack in this story holds a horrifying secret.
2. Coraline, again, by Neil Gaiman: In this chilling children’s/YA novel, the title character encounters living toys and people with doll-buttons for eyes.
3. “A Toy for Juliette”, Robert Bloch, from the anthology, Dangerous Visions(edited by Harlan Ellison): This story, set in a dark future, is about a girl whose toys are torture devices from the different time periods her grandfather travels to. This time, Grandpapa brings her back one from the Victorian era: an infamous serial killer.
4. “The Monkey”, Stephen King, from his collection, Skeleton Crew: A boy’s toy cymbal-banging monkey has a deadly curse.
5. “Chattery Teeth”, Again, Stephen King, from his Nightmares & Dreamscapes: Wind-up clockwork teeth with feet “talk”, walk and bite. . . big time.
6. “The Doll”, Joyce Carol Oates, from her Haunted: Tales of the Grotesque: A woman visits a stranger’s house that contains a doll house and, in a sense, a man-size doll that no little girl (or big girl for that matter) should want to ever play with.
So here’s some winter reading for you to sit back and relax over on a dark, stormy night after the Holiday festivities have ended for the year! And if you can’t wait to gather all these, then check out my terror toy story, “The Puppet Show”, for free! If you like that, consider buying the collection it’s from, The Fool’sIllusion. It will make a great nightmare before (and after) Christmas gift!
Next week’s post will be looking back on my writing projects of 2017 and what I learned from them. Maybe it will also cover the 2017 works of other science fiction/fantasy writers.