Monday, November 27, 2023

Ho! Ho! Ho! Update #2 - A Quirky Little Tale


TITLE: The Christmas Guest
AUTHOR: Peter Swanson
PUBLISHER: William Morrow
PUBLISHING DATE: September 28, 2023
PAGES: 104   

FROM GOODREADS: Ashley Smith, an American art student in London for her junior year, was planning on spending Christmas alone, but a last-minute invitation from fellow student Emma Chapman brings her to Starvewood Hall, country residence of the Chapman family. The Cotswold manor house, festooned in pine boughs and crammed with guests for Christmas week, is a dream come true for Ashley. She is mesmerized by the cozy, firelit house, the large family, and the charming village of Clevemoor, but also by Adam Chapman, Emma's aloof and handsome brother. 
But Adam is being investigated by the local police over the recent brutal slaying of a girl from the village, and there is a mysterious stranger who haunts the woodland path between Starvewood Hall and the local pub. Ashley begins to wonder what kind of story she is actually inhabiting. Is she in a grand romance? A gothic tale? Or has she wandered into something far more sinister and terrifying than she'd ever imagined? 
Over thirty years later the events of that horrific week are revisited, along with a diary from that time. What began in a small English village in 1989 reaches its ghostly conclusion in modern-day New York, many Christmas seasons later.

MY THOUGHTS: I read this novella in one sitting and if at all possible, that's how I would recommend it be consumed.  While Swanson has been hit or miss for me in the past, The Christmas Guest really worked for me and was an enjoyable holiday read which wasn't romance or rom-com based.

As this is such a short read, I don't want to give much away, and I feel the synopsis provides the reader with all that is needed to decide whether or not to pick it up.  In fact, it may even give a bit too much away.  I will say this would be a perfect read for a snowy, dark evening when the wind is howling, and a fire is crackling.  And there are just enough twists and turns to keep the reader engaged while also allowing for the setting to give the story Gothic undertones.

If you like this author or are looking for a quick holiday themed "mystery/thriller," then consider picking this one up.  



  1. Sounds interesting, I haven't tried this author. :)

  2. This does sound like a fun and different kind of holiday novella.

  3. I generally enjoy his work.

    Anne - Books of My Heart

  4. Ooh a Christmas mystery, sounds like fun! And bonus that it's short and you can read it in one sitting😁