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Review: Joy to the Worlds: Holiday Stories of Mystery and Speculative by Maia Chance, Janine A. Southard, Raven Oak, & G. Clemans

About the Book

What do you get when you mix mystery and speculative fiction, then toss in the holidays for good measure? A mobster Santa, genetic hanky-panky, Victorian villages, time-travelling detectives, Krampus, eerie bell spirits, and more–this collection of short cross-genre fiction is the perfect counterpoint to traditional holiday reading!

This collection stars four authors, each with their own distinct style. National bestselling author Maia Chance, who is famous for her cozy mysteries, dazzles with humor and folklore. IPPY award-winning science fiction author Janine A. Southard beguiles with unexpected time-travel science. Science fiction & fantasy bestseller Raven Oak offers a look into the gothic past. And for a whole new perspective, debut fiction author and art expert G. Clemans dives into the intersections of creativity and mystery.

Joy to the Worlds brings together eight short works that explore mysteries across time and space. With stories ranging from dark dystopian worlds to comedic retro-futures, four diverse writers find new ways to combine these disparate worlds into something anyone will enjoy.

Review

So an undead hunting party, a spaceship whodunnit, and a cursed family walk into a publishing house...

'Joy to the Worlds' is a collection of fiction stories that center around the holidays. The variety is impressive, which is what makes this book so difficult to pin down. There are eight stories in all, and each one showcases a different aspect of Christmas. It is as educational as it is entertaining, authors spinning yarns about Krampus, the Wild Hunt, and even the orign of wood carving, just to name a few.

The novel itself is well thought out and even more well put together. Each story earns its place between the covers: when you finish with one story and turn to the next, it feels like you have just cracked open a whole other book. Each story is followed with a brief insert by its author, which make the tales even more unique and special. It is holiday fiction for that cheer-weary someone in your life. However, this is also where the collection lacks. The only things keeping these tales together are the binding and the notions of the Christmas season. While most of the stories feature Santa Claus, gifts, or yultide tradition in some way, their central ideas were not of the Christmas variety. We did not necessarily learn about how to be more giving and open-hearted, but we did learn about how to find loopholes in witch curses and to beware of pixies.
Nevertheless, 'Joy to the Worlds' is sure to be a winner on Christmas day, whether you're giving to a friend or just to yourself. The variety is undeniable, and fans of any genre are guaranteed to find a narrative that appeals to them.

So, pour some egg nog, snuggle in beside the Christmas tree, and get lost somewhere in the wonderland that is 'Joy to the Worlds'; just keep an eye out for any rogue Christmas decorations or suspicious crew members first.

Reviewed by Catherine Mesure

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