Before I forget, a gentle reminder that my interview on WROTE Podcast is still up, so if you’re wondering about what it was like to write Exit Plans for Teenage Freaks, a queer YA, given I’m mumble-mumble years old, or how I tried to tackle the “But I don’t like short stories!” crowd with my first collection, Of Echoes Born, or you want to talk poutine? Check it out.
Also? Matt Bright’s lovely anthology, A Few More Winter Tales, which includes my queer re-telling of The Snow Queen, is out and free right now. So you should check that out, too.
Man, there’s all sorts of stuff going on, no? It’s a good thing my day started early. I learned this morning that without the 6:00am alarm my husband sets for work, Max will let me sleep in until 5:45am. So that’s something. It’s snowing again, little accumulations that dust down from the sky, and on our walk this morning, as we passed under the new super-duper streetlights, Max started darting and dodging at the ground. It took me a second to realize he was chasing the shadows of snowflakes.
It’s possible our dog is not the brightest, but he sure is adorable.
Speaking of adorable? Merry Christmas Mr. Miggles, by Eli Easton. I listened to this holiday novella on audio last year. The reader, Tristan Wright, performed a range of voices, and the pacing was spot-on. So far, my luck with Eli Easton audiobooks continues to shine.
Plot-wise, this holiday story ticks off a few boxes: small town holiday, the man trying to make good something from his past, books (it takes place mostly in a library), dating-the-boss, and a slow-to-kindle awareness of a budding romance. That the Mr. Miggles in question is older than Toby, our narrator, gets brought up quite a bit, but it’s only a decade, and we’re talking thirty-something with a twenty-something, so I can’t quite bring myself to call this a May-December. May-June? Whatever.
Toby’s voice is fun, light, and amusing, and also so easy to identify with, as a lit geek myself. His comparisons of his life and those around him to famous works of literature was a cute touch. Toby has a boyfriend (and is slow to realize he’s got a crappy boyfriend), a great boss (Mr. Miggles), and a strong family. Coming back to his small-town of origin was a wise move for him, and his job at the Library is perfect.
Until it’s isn’t. Things take a dark turn in this story when Mr. Miggles is accused of a crime, and the bulk of the story is Toby juggling his absolute certainty that Mr. Miggles has done no such thing, and trying to save (in no particular order) the library, Mr. Miggles’s career, both their jobs, and the potential of love between them. And maybe Christmas.
Golems and Hanukkah? Yes please. Elliot Cooper wrote such a lovely little holiday novella on so many fronts, and I snuggled right into it. Dave was so easy to identify with: he’s a gaming nerd, so done with holiday consumerism, and frustrated at feeling the guilt of not being able to be “on par” with the gift-giving going on around him. He’s also just awkward enough to get in his own way, and overthinking himself out of confidence. In short, he’s adorable.
The dash of holiday magic here is in a Golem, yes, but also in the blending of family, friendship, compassion and the shared desire to give, but not in the consumerism way. That it also involved some Dungeons & Dragons, latkes and a little bit of golem magic just made it all the more up my alley. Also, the wide range of queer identities included here bears mentioning, including a bi main character, and a trans man supporting character.
Hearts Alight is completely charming.
Okay, I loved The Werewolf Before Christmas. Charles Payseur hit all the right buttons for me, somewhere in the Venn diagram where campy, queer, supervillainy, magic, hilarity, sweetness, and just enough spice intersect.
It’s not a serious story, but there’s verisimilitude, which is hard enough with any spec fic, but we’re talking a magic and a tech based queer super-villains in love, one of whom watches a soap opera about werewolves—and it totally holds together. I bought in, and loved the ride.
So when a magic-wielding super-villain (whose magic isn’t totally reliable) decides the one grand gesture that will make Christmas work involves kidnapping the star of his super-villain lover’s favourite character from his soap opera of choice? It’s gold. And it’s a holiday story, and romantic, and still freaking adorable.
I’m biased. I love superhero stuff. And there’s so damn little of it (especially queer stuff) so finding this was like reaching into the holiday stocking and finding a chocolate orange where you thought there was just going to be a roll of socks.