KrampusnachtBy KATE WOLFORD (World Weaver Press; 2014)

This anthology offers twelve tales centered on Krampus, the anti-Santa Claus. Its contributors are names with which I’m not familiar, who all deliver decent if unremarkable tales that make for an overall book I’d classify as medium-strength.

It begins with “Prodigious” by Elizabeth Twist, about a department store employee playing Krampus who takes his role a bit too far, and continues with “The Wicked Child” by Elise Forier Edie, the most upsetting of the book’s tales. It’s the story of a severely abused little girl who finds solace in the figure of Krampus, as he happens to be “the only being in the world who had ever shown her any kindness.”

An especially novel take on Krampus lore is provided by “Santa Claus and the Little Girl Who Loves to Sing and Dance” by Patrick Evans, which depicts Krampus as a manifestation of Santa Claus’s evil impulses, as diagnosed by a supernaturally endowed shrink. “Marching Krampus” by Jill Corddry is much simpler: a boy torments his sister and is visited–and threatened–by Krampus…the end.

In “Between the Eyes” by Guy Burtenshaw a loser is haunted by an oblique motorbike-riding figure whose true identity is revealed in the final pages, while in “Nothing to Dread” author Jeff Provine examines what happens when a young boy who is supposed to be one of Krampus’s designed victims defies his would-be tormentor–successfully!

“The God Killer” by Cheresse Burke takes us into Krampus’s underground layer, which apparently lies under the streets of Amsterdam and is lined with cages containing kidnapped children. Scott Farrell’s overlong “A Krampus Carol” features two cops utilizing the “Krampus Treatment” in disciplining criminals, i.e. they give each bad guy a Krampuskarten, or Krampus Card, depicting Krampus in various poses.

So this book isn’t exactly great–far from it, in fact. But for those of you with a rooting interest in Krampus (an interest that appears to be steadily growing with each passing year) it will definitely satisfy.