Wishing Season: Holiday Tales of Whimsy and Wonder, by Renee Carter Hall – Book Review by Fred Patten
by Pup Matthias
Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer
Wishing Season: Holiday Tales of Whimsy and Wonder, by Renee Carter Hall
Seattle, WA, CreateSpace, December 2015, trade paperback $7.99 (125 pages), Kindle, December 2014, $2.99.
This little collection presents seven gentle short fantasies “for all ages” about the Christmas spirit. The title implies that these may cover the different holidays of the year, but they are all about either a snowy Christmas, a snowy winter, or Santa Claus – in any case, stories to read while relaxing in a warm home during a snowy December. If you want to read them aloud to small children; why, some of these were originally heard as broadcasts of the Anthro Dreams Podcast. Two tales, “The First Winter” and “Santa’s Summer Vacation”, are written especially for this booklet. Wishing Season itself was published as an e-book for the Christmas 2014 season, and as a trade paperback for Christmas 2015.
Hall’s tales are imbued with a modern Christmas mythology – that of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, the Grinch, It’s a Wonderful Life, and all those animated movies and TV specials showing Santa’s elves as having automated the North Pole.
In “The Gingerbread Reindeer”, Santa’s eight reindeer are having trouble pulling the sled of presents on Christmas eve because Rudolph has broken a bone and can’t lead the others. Boreas, the spirit of winter, enchants a little girl’s reindeer gingerbread cookie into Cinnamon, a gingerbread real flying deer to replace Rudolph. When the Unmaker, the anti-Christmas, attacks, it’s Cinnamon who saves them all.
“The visitor bore the form of a frost-elf, slender and sharp, with knowing eyes, but his body faded like silver fog at the edges. Boreas was winter given shape, the power by which the run was made each year, by which time was frozen for a single night while magic was worked for the young. It was not often that he appeared.” (p. 11)
Hall’s evocative writing makes you wish that her original characters like Boreas and Cinnamon were permanent parts of the Christmas spirit – though we could do without the Unmaker.