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Candy Cain Kills (2023) - A novella by Brian McAuley

Candy Cain Kills (2023) – New Serial Killer Mayhem from Brian McAuley

4.5/5

Candy Cain Kills

The holidays are often filled with a tension that culminates in large pine trees meticulously draped with silver tinsel and an excessive amount of baking. Everything has to be perfect for family members seen twice in a blue moon. Presents are meant to be wrapped in festive paper and secret prayers are said for just the right amount of snow.

It’s easy for the idea of getting away to take root. Wouldn’t it be marvelous to forget about all of the crowded stores and Christmas carolers for just one night? Perhaps rent a cabin far away from the hustle and bustle of the world. Just you and the family.

This is exactly what Greg thinks when he rents a cabin in the small town of Nodland for the Christmas weekend. However, Greg has no idea what he’s just gotten his family into. The Cabin has a brutal and dark history, one that’s about to claim more victims.

Another Brush With Brian McAuley

“Candy Cain Kills” is the second written work by Brian McCauley that has come through Malevolent Dark. His first novel, “Curse of the Reaper” made Jennifer Sternberg’s Killer Guide to Slasher Fiction slasher fiction. Might I add that she scored it a solid 5 stars. It’s fantastic to see that his latest work sticks so closely to the slasher formula.

Be sure to check out Brian’s other work as he makes his way through film, TV and other media.

Far From a Silent Night

On the brink of divorce, Greg believes that the last-ditch effort to save his family is to get them away from their daily lives, even in the middle of the holiday season. He decides that he’ll rent a cabin in a small town and they’ll spend Christmas Eve and Christmas away from the rest of the world to repair their relationships.

However, his family is dealing with their own demons. Dana, his wife, is struggling to connect with her husband and get on the same page about any decision that’s made. Austin, a high school student, is grappling with feelings that he’s determined to hide. And Fiona, his younger sister, is doomed to feel the white-hot pain of a chronic illness.

The cabin itself is beautiful, but it’s equipped with a dark past filled with murder on the very weekend that Greg rents it. Cars slowly pile-up around the home as people enter and never leave. The legend of Candy Cain, a horrific serial killer, looms over the families weekend and threatens to tear them apart for good.

Candy Cain Kills - A novella by Brian McAuley
Candy Cain Kills – A novella by Brian McAuley

A VHS Anthology

Most of us grew up consuming media that was made to chill and thrill. Whether it was to sneak a flashlight under the covers to consume the next Goosebumps book, or to creep down the stairs in order to turn on the next episode of ‘Twilight Zone’. There was something about anthology horror that was perfect for cheap, quick, scares.

Candy Cain Kills is the second book in the “Killer VHS Series” from Shortwave publishing. It’s the perfect story that ties together the nostalgia of the holidays and slasher elements from feature films like the 1974 hit Black Christmas.

In a world filled with perfect Christmas meet-cutes and cheesy romantic comedies, it’s always good to get a pure dose of holiday slaughter that plays into the nostalgia of Point Horror paperbacks.

Final Thoughts

Brian McAuley perfectly crafted a story that is quick paced and impossible to put down. If you’re looking for the type of story that gives you a tense thrill and a burst of wistfulness, then this is the book for you. It has all the pinnacles of a classic slasher with a touch of heart and holiday magic.

It was nothing but enjoyable to follow Greg, Dana, Austin, and Fiona as they struggled with their demons against the backdrop of a white Christmas. If you’re into a tension-filled ride that follows a Christmas themed serial killer, then this is the book for you.

The “Killer VHS Series” has some serious promise and is highlighting authors that grew up on the same horrors that we did. Their holiday horror novel is sure to be a perfect gift to place under the tree.

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