Thanks to NetGalley and Quirk Books for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: November 10th, 2020
Synopsis: The Office meets Stephen King, dressed up in holiday tinsel, in this fun, festive, and frightening horror-comedy set during the horror publishing boom of the ‘80s, by New York Times best-selling satirist Andrew Schaffer.
Out of work for months, Lussi Meyer is desperate to work anywhere in publishing. Prestige Blackwood-Patterson isn’t the perfect fit, but a bizarre set of circumstances leads to her hire and a firm mandate: Lussi must find the next horror superstar to compete with Stephen King, Anne Rice, and Peter Straub. It’s the ‘80s after all and horror is the hottest genre.
But as soon as she arrives, Lussi finds herself the target of her coworkers’ mean-spirited pranks. The hazing reaches its peak during the company’s annual Secret Santa gift exchange when Lussi receives a demonic-looking object she recognizes but doesn’t understand. Suddenly, her coworkers begin falling victim to a series of horrific accidents akin to a George Romero movie, and Lussi suspects her gift is involved. With the help of her former editor, the flamboyant Fabian Nightingale, Lussi must track down her mysterious Secret Santa and figure out the true meaning of the cursed object in her possession before it destroys the company—and her soul.
Being the horror fan I am, I was quite excited when I read the premise Secret Santa, even though I’m unfamiliar with Andrew Schaffer’s writing. And there were parts of it I really liked: the dark humor, the fiendishly witty homage to 1980s horror, and the skewering of the publishing world in general. The horror aspects were a bit meh, which was a bit of a let down, and as I find so often with novellas, the character development was practically non-existent. The funny thing is, the previous book I reviewed, Teen Killers Club, was under 300 pages, yet had a wonderfully written and memorable cast, so I know it’s possible. But alas, it wasn’t the case here. Still, it was an entertaining way to spend the hour or so it took to read Secret Santa and I’m not sorry I requested it. It’s also made me curious to check out some of Schaffer’s other works, so that’s a plus.