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Book Review: Santa Took Them by William Malmborg


Remember how people freaked out when the movie Silent Night, Deadly Night was released in 1984? Nowadays, people barely bat an eye when it comes to Christmas horror.

As Santa Took Them opens, Marty McKenzie can't wait to get home.

It's Christmas Eve 2005 and after driving with his wife and kids in a snowstorm, he just wants the holidays to be over.

When he pulls into his driveway, he notices the neighbor's cat, Popeye outside once again. He's not a fan of the cat and after parking, he grabs the cat and takes it to the Harper house while the cat struggles to get away.

Marty finds it odd that the front door is open and when he begins to investigate, he finds the children decapitated and mother Amy slowly dying upstairs.

Written in blood is Santa Took Them and as Marty runs back to his house, the only survivor, eight year old Michelle Harper is standing in his living room holding one of the heads.

After spending a decade in a youth home, Michelle is released to her uncle Eliot a few days before Christmas.

Michelle is described by her former doctor, Samantha Loomis, as quiet and introverted and Eliot does notice that she's really quiet. Because of her personality, his girlfriend, Lucy, is kind of nervous to be around her.

Later that night, both of them are murdered in the same fashion as the others in 2005 and Michelle has also disappeared.

Dr. Loomis is called in and she heads to Michelle's hometown of Rockwood, Illinois because she thinks Michelle might be heading to her deserted home.

The home, while deserted, was bought by Henry Jenkins and he's hoping to flip it, but has been behind in modernizing it for over a year. He tells his son, Steve, that he had better finish painting that day and heads off to work.

Steve doesn't want to do any work since he's on Christmas vacation and calls his girlfriend, Renee up so that they can spend some time together at the house.

Renee doesn't want to be in the house and after hearing a noise upstairs, she really wants to get out, but Steve reassures her that it was just a cat. She doesn't care and wants to leave.

But before leaving, Dr. Loomis and Sheriff Richard Burke arrive and question the teens. Of course they don't know anything and they decide to leave after having an argument.

Renee thinks that Steve wants to be with his ex, Hanna, and has gone so far as to create a dummy Facebook account where she's friends with her. She tries to get her friends to spy on Steve and hopes that her best friend Molly will report to her.

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Molly doesn't want to get involved and Renee blocks her on all social platforms and even her phone number.

As the anniversary of the Harper massacre gets closer, some teens go missing and a snowstorm is heading their way.

Dr. Loomis and Sheriff Burke are in a race against time and need to catch a killer before another Christmas massacre.

I have mixed feelings about this book (almost 50-50) since there are parts that are really good and other parts just seem to slag.

What drew me in was what I thought was going to be a town on edge with a serial killer running loose and the teens disappearing. I think it would have been much more suspenseful.

While I knew that Samantha Loomis was a nod to Halloween, Malmborg also mentions the McKenzie's which is another nod, plus the fact the story takes place in a small town in Illinois. Also, there's a nod to Friends in the form of Sheriff Richard Burke.

Surprisingly, I was able to read it in one sitting, but there were times when I had to wonder what was going on since scenes had changed and wrong character names were put in the place of the actual character.

I have to give Malmborg a lot of credit for creating the teen characters. They come across as real and Renee is probably the most convincing of the bunch. That character alone could have had her own book.

If the boring parts were to be removed, I think this would make a great little movie and I was able to figure out the end, but there are some twists along the way.


Eric Tuchelske (author) from Detroit on July 09, 2021:

It definitely is a different type of Christmas story.

Lady Dazy from UK on July 08, 2021:

Good article, sounds like an interesting book even with that scary cover.

Doug robbins from Ohio, USA on July 07, 2021:



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