Holiday Spirit

Fiction - Horror
386 Pages
Reviewed on 02/13/2024
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Essien Asian for Readers' Favorite

The townsfolk of Killington become concerned when their children start going missing under unusual circumstances. Many of them are casting suspicious glances in the direction of a particular section of the residents with an unusual history. In a bid to forestall another violent incident from the townsfolk caused by mistaken identity, a few of these special individuals band together to find the missing children but can Frankenstein, Dracula, and his bride succeed? Years of misunderstanding, cruelty, and unfair accusations have led to the beginning of an insidious agenda in Holiday Spirit by John DeGuire.

In this horror novel by John DeGuire, a character hatches a cunning scheme to exact revenge on the community she lives in for the years of cruelty and abuse she and her family have endured. DeGuire's writing is rich with nuanced layers of complexity. First, the dark lord of the vampires, Dracula, has a close relationship with a werewolf; second, the town fire chief is a relatable version of Frankenstein's monster. These bases ensure the reader an exciting read in which their imagination will undoubtedly contribute to their appreciation of DeGuire's literary skills. A reader will be drawn into the story by the characters' well-developed origin stories, and fans of the horror genre will enjoy DeGuire's analytical style of narrating the particularly graphic parts of the novel. The author provides each character in this story arc with a positive aspect that the reader can relate to, which makes his work stand out. Holiday Spirit is a tale in which the reader's perspective determines who the real antagonist is. This is a masterfully written book that sends shivers down the spine.

Stephanie Chapman

John DeGuire’s Holiday Spirit is a fantasy horror story featuring a witch’s revenge and the “monsters” who intend to stop her. Bridget Bishop felt misjudged and undeserving of the disdain of the residents of Killington. To exact her revenge, she plans to make the children disappear during the holiday season, from Halloween to Christmas. Meanwhile, a vampire and a werewolf have taken refuge in the morgue after their home burned down. A night shift nurse warns them that people are blaming them for the missing children. They meet with Frankenstein at his castle, where they join forces with the invisible man, Dr. Ralph Ellison. They look for clues to find the children and Frankenstein interviews Bridget. Upon discovering the children are locked in her basement, the group tries to capture the witch, but she escapes. Bridget intends to exact her revenge.

John DeGuire gives the views of the protagonists and antagonists in exceptional detail. The transitions between each character are seamless. A history for each character provides a clear motivation for their actions. For example, Count Dracula and Aiofe were soulmates from the beginning. The strength of their bond builds over centuries of violence; they actively avoid repeating the same mistakes. I found the plot unpredictable, and the suspense immersed me in the story. The vivid details of every scene made it easy to envision. An intense scene that stands out occurs during the Christmas parade when Bridget focuses on the mayor and his staff. I was shocked at the graphic carnage. Since Bridget has help to exact her revenge, it was frightening to discover the vicious personalities of her cohorts. What they did with the children made the end bittersweet. Holiday Spirit will appeal to dark fantasy readers who like graphic horror stories.

K.C. Finn

Holiday Spirit is a work of fiction penned by author John DeGuire in the horror, mystery, and intrigue subgenres. It is best suited to mature adult readers owing to scenes of violence and explicit language. The author unveils a chilling mystery in Killington, Vermont, where children mysteriously vanish amidst an escalating darkness. Starting with a Halloween prank and an angered witch, the town is besieged by ancient mummies, sinister creatures, and malevolent phantoms as Christmas approaches. Panic ensues as the children disappear, leading to a blame game involving lurking monsters. However, not all monsters are what they seem.

Author John DeGuire has crafted a unique reading experience for horror fans everywhere by blending elements of supernatural romance, holiday murder mystery, and suspenseful intrigue. The close and detailed narrative keeps readers on edge, wondering if love and an unlikely band of heroes can rescue the holiday season from the encroaching darkness as we move through highly descriptive scenes and a wealth of fascinating characters who fill them. The novel is a thrilling journey into the magical and mysterious, with a fantastic sense of pacing to allow us quiet moments to get to know Saul, Aoife, Ralph, and even Count Dracula himself. In a world where monsters become unexpected saviors, they also become unexpected friends to the reader, thanks to some gorgeous dialogue exchanges that balance tension with charm. Overall, I would certainly recommend Holiday Spirit as an enthralling read that defies genre conventions, and I can’t wait to read more from this talented author.

Chinazo Anozie

Holiday Spirit by John DeGuire is a chilling thriller about wicked witches, evil mummies, and creepy monsters. A mean Halloween prank by the kids of Killington, Vermont, is the last straw for Bridgett Bishop. After years of repeatedly trying to fit in and be accepted and now fed up with the consistent maltreatment, Bridgett has had it with playing nice and decides to be the witch she and her family are accused of being. As the holidays approach, she makes it her mission to give the people of Killington the worst holidays they’ve ever had. On the other hand, a ragtag group of outcasts hated and feared by the townspeople, consisting of Dracula and his werewolf wife, Aoife, Frankenstein, and some other familiar favorites, take it upon themselves to fight against Bridgett and her horrible team of monsters.

I loved Holiday Spirit by John DeGuire! The plot is a perfect blend of today’s world, with concepts like Airbnb, the recently deceased Queen Elizabeth, and ancient folklore, such as Egyptian mummies, Dracula, Frankenstein, etc. Holiday Spirit is a slow burner as DeGuire takes his time with the worldbuilding and introduces readers to a wonderful medley of characters. The action was enthralling as I read on with bated breath to discover who would emerge as the winner in the battle between monsters and outcasts. Despite my predictions, the author still surprised me with a riveting turn of events on who the real villain was. I also loved the dry wit. John DeGuire tells a tale of the importance of kindness, love, friendship, and acceptance, regardless of physical appearance, in Holiday Spirit.

Jaqueline Neves

In Holiday Spirit, John DeGuire weaves a captivating tale set in the charming town of Killington, Vermont, where a sinister mystery unfolds as children begin to vanish. Starting with a Halloween prank gone wrong and an enraged witch, the story takes a chilling turn as the holiday season approaches. Strange occurrences, ancient mummies, menacing lagoon creatures, and malevolent phantoms threaten to overshadow the festive spirit. Amid the panic and accusations, a group of unconventional heroes emerges—Saul, an EMS captain stitched together by his father Dr. Frankenstein; Dr. Ralph Ellison, the invisible man; Aoife, a courageous werewolf, and her justice-seeking vampire husband, Count Dracula. As dark forces gather, this group of friends must unravel the mysteries that lurk in the shadows.

John DeGuire crafts a narrative that blends holiday baggage and murder mystery with the monster classics. The plot unfolds at a compelling pace, keeping readers hooked with its suspenseful twists and turns. The action sequences are vividly described and I felt like I was actually in the story, viewing what was unfolding. The characters, with their unique traits and backgrounds, add depth and complexity to the story. Saul is my favorite character. The novel explores themes of love, courage, and the struggle between good and evil, while also delving into the theme of history repeating itself. DeGuire's writing is atmospheric, immersing readers in the wintry landscape of Killington and the supernatural elements that infuse the plot. Holiday Spirit is a delightful and thrilling read that skillfully combines the magic of the holiday season with the allure of the supernatural, making it a must-read for those seeking a unique blend of the classic monster horror story.

Carmen Tenorio

Holiday Spirit by John Deguire is set in the old-fashioned but charming town of Killington, Vermont where holidays seem to be cursed as children have gone missing. It all started with a group of trick-or-treaters' mean pranks toward a witch during Halloween. Shortly after that, children began to disappear just days before Thanksgiving and were rumored to have been snatched by ancient mummies. Girl and Boy Scouts were said to have vanished into the murky waters of the lake. Young actors were said to be kidnapped by a sinister opera house phantom during their Christmas-time presentation of the Nutcracker. Fortunately, an alternative group of monsters who value friendship, loyalty, altruism, and kindness to humanity have decided to band together to solve the mystery of the missing children. Will they be in time to save the holiday season or are they just a bunch of mediocre failures who have more bark than bite?

A monster's ability to terrorize ordinary humans by using a person's wild imagination makes them scary and unforgettable. But what if the author turns things around and gives the creatures more acceptable, civilized behaviors so that they offer hope? John Deguire's approach makes both the characters and plot line intriguing and interesting. The usually menacing and frightful characters act as willing saviors of the holiday season. The lead characters are not only quirky, but also insightful, philosophical, and full of sentiment with a touch of humor. Expect the unexpected when it comes to the plotline of the multiverse the author has created. Things are reversed and surprising plot developments abound in this fast-paced thriller. Deguire's uncomplicated writing also uses modern contemporary references for everyday living which makes Holiday Spirit easily relatable, entertaining, and amusing. Highly recommended for horror fans, especially for those who are into monsters.

Foluso Falaye

No one is safe in Killington, Vermont; not when the witch, Bridgett Bishop, is on a vengeance mission against those who maltreated her in a vicious Halloween prank. Count Dracula, a pacifist vampire, and Aoife, a powerful werewolf, are a couple who find themselves facing the witch's wrath as she advances her sinister revenge plot. Two other strange characters, Frankenstein's monster and the invisible man, find themselves dealing with an evil they never saw coming as they navigate a world of complex societal issues. Meanwhile, the witch only gets stronger as she wields her weapons of destruction, including mummy corpses and her books of spells. Will love and peace find a way in this holiday horror? Holiday Spirit by John DeGuire depicts a vicious battle involving freaks of nature, an evil witch, and both kind and inhumane humans.

Holiday Spirit captivates readers with its appealing characters. I loved seeing Frankenstein's monster, Dracula, a werewolf, and the invisible man in one story complete with intricate back histories and vivid descriptions of their physical features. The book's holiday theme is strongly depicted with several poetic lines and a deeply nostalgic atmosphere that had me sympathizing with Frankenstein for feeling lonely during the holidays. Additionally, I loved the interplay between the book's unique characters and their peculiar features, such as the undead Dracula witnessing the Great Plague of 1665 and the witch's use of incantations and necromancy to address mummy corpses. Since it is made up of multiple characters and themes, Holiday Spirit will appeal to readers who enjoy sophisticated, multilayered plots. Embrace the holiday spirit with John DeGuire's spine-chilling tale involving well-meaning monsters, evil forces, and a love story plagued by death on all sides.

Keith Mbuya

The old witch Bridgett Bishop, dubbed the “Bitch witch” by kids in Killington, Vermont, had had enough. Kids had made fun of her every Halloween season, but this year they had crossed the line with the eggs and rocks they threw at her. Left bloodied and lying next to her late grandmother’s precious old jar, now broken, the witch decided it was payback time. The witch recruited two Egyptian gods of death, a mummy, and a beast that lurked in the waters of Killington, to terrorize the kids in Killington. Soon kids started disappearing mysteriously. Will Killington survive the tragedy coming their way? But then, perhaps a vampire from the seventeenth century, his werewolf bride, and a genetic experiment monster are Killington’s only hope. Can this trio of outcasts save Killington from the witch’s wrath? Find out in John DeGuire’s Holiday Spirit.

If you are looking for a horror novel with a blend of fantasy and mystery, John DeGuire’s Holiday Spirit is a must-read. Weaving a mind-blowing plot, the story features a fascinating cast. The subtle and macabre tone of the storyline and the accompanying dramatic edge to the scenes had me hooked, flipping through page after page. The evocative depictions breathed life into the scenes and, coupled with a robust touch of pop culture and DeGuire’s refreshing dark humor, made the reading experience feel like watching a Hollywood horror movie. There is darkness, light, vampires, werewolves, witches, folklore tales, vengeance, deceit, love, betrayal, adventure, thrill, and so much more in this haunting page-turner. DeGuire brings out the cast’s traits and emotions, allowing readers to connect with them. Holiday Spirit is a magnificent piece of work. I loved it and I’m looking forward to reading more of DeGuire’s work.

Alma Boucher

John DeGuire's Holiday Spirit is a wonderfully entertaining mix of horror, adventure, and humor. For Halloween trick-or-treat, an elderly woman called Bridgett Bishop filled a dish with the best Halloween candies she could find. But when several children threw raw eggs at Bridgett from behind, she laughed and said the kids were correct to believe she was a witch. Though she would require assistance, Bridgett plots her revenge and intends to kidnap every child in the village. Bridgett commits herself to making sure the children will never celebrate any holidays again. Dracula, his werewolf wife, and their friends set out to find and bring back the children who had vanished from the sleepy Vermont community of Killington, while also keeping the well-loved holidays alive.

Holiday Spirit is a page-turner that kept me on the edge of my seat. I was immediately engrossed in John DeGuire's engaging plot as he skillfully merged supernatural elements with human emotions. I felt completely immersed in the story because of the vivid descriptions of the scenes. While receiving a contemporary makeover, well-known figures like Frankenstein, Ralph, The Invisible Man, Count Dracula, and Contessa Aoife remained recognizable. Reading about the captivating romance between Dracula and his werewolf wife was exciting. But it was horrifying and heartbreaking to watch Bridgett's transition from a solitary elderly woman to a vengeful witch. It is an emotionally charged and riveting story with a good mix of suspense and action. The story was masterfully written and made an impression on me.

Cecelia Hopkins

Holiday Spirit by John Deguire spans the social festivals from Halloween through Christmas and a new beginning. The story begins with a senseless act of cruelty as the children pelt an elderly woman with refuse instead of accepting her treats. Bridgett Bishop, who is descended from a line of persecuted witches, resolves to avenge herself on the town by kidnapping all the children. She recruits Egyptian mummies, a terrifying water creature, the Phantom, and Mr. Hyde to help. Enter some unlikely heroes in Vlad Dracula and his werewolf wife, Aoife, and some hospital staff. These local monsters will likely be blamed for the disappearances unless Captain Frankenstein and the Invisible Man can solve the case first.

Holiday Spirit by John Deguire delivers seasonal horror with a serving of gore and a sprinkling of dark humor. Once I worked out which monsters were on each side, I began to enjoy the contest. A Jewish “Saul” Frankenstein made for an empathetic and appealing action hero. A shockingly psychotically Nazi phantom opposed him. I loved the way Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde played both sides in a dramatically ironic reflection of his dual nature. There were numerous plot twists and several times I believed the good guys were completely doomed! I shivered with revulsion at the thought of how many children were being killed and eaten, although I was relieved when the main voices seemed to continue. I thought the author was having fun as the narrative continued without slowing or dragging. Holiday Spirit by John Deguire took gothic themes and breathed astonishing new life into their well-worn tropes.

Laura R. Brush

In his spine-chilling first novel, Holiday Spirit, John DeGuire plunges us into the charming yet eerily silent town of Killington, Vermont. A shroud of desperation and fear hangs heavy as the town's children, one by one, begin to disappear. Problems arise when a Halloween prank takes a monstrous turn that awakens the anger and fury of a long-dormant witch. As Christmas descends, the town is caught in a web of inexplicable occurrences. Ancient mummies, reanimated in the dead of night, creep around ominously, while sinister creatures from the depths of the lagoon, their eyes glowing with malevolence, stalk the silent streets. Phantoms, dripping with unspeakable horror, threaten to extinguish the spirit of the festive season. When the innocent laughter of the children is abruptly silenced, a wave of paralyzing fear sweeps through the town. Accusations fly, and fingers point to the monstrosities that have emerged from the shadows.

John DeGuire introduces us to several familiar supernatural entities, providing praiseworthy descriptions of their well-known histories. He masterfully alternates between the past and the present. His detailed and interesting explanations depict those struggling to blend in with modern society. The entities who reside in the vicinity of Killington establish a plan that utilizes their extraordinary abilities and unconventional powers to provide a protective shield for the village’s innocent children. Concurrently, they try to salvage the festive season which holds significant cultural and social relevance for the populace. Their actions, well depicted by DeGuire, strive to contribute to the preservation of the community's harmony and maintain traditional customs and festivities. The author succeeds in leading us through complex scenarios that play a vital role in maintaining the social fabric of Killington. The Holiday Spirit is an exciting horror novel that spreads warmth and humor as it tells a holiday detective story.

Pikasho Deka

Holiday Spirit is a supernatural horror novel by John DeGuire. Enraged by a prank on Halloween's Eve, Bridgett Bishop, an old witch, concocts a nefarious plan to sap everyone's holiday spirit in Killington, Vermont. With the help of Mr. Edward Hyde and the Phantom, Bridgett starts abducting children and wreaks havoc all over town using demonic fiends, reanimated mummies, and ancient Egyptian goddesses. As the townspeople point fingers at the monsters of Killington, Saul Frankenstein, an EMS captain, takes matters into his own hands and works toward rescuing the children, putting himself in grave danger. He teams up with Count Dracula and his lover, Aoife, a female werewolf, and the invisible man Ralph. Evading masked vigilantes, the unlikely group fights against Bridgett's evil machinations. But they must be wary of a shocking betrayal.

If you love Stephen King's work, you will love Holiday Spirit. John DeGuire's gripping tale pulls you into an immersive setting and keeps you hooked with timely chills, thrills, twists, and turns you never see coming. The narrative is filled to the brim with a dark and foreboding atmosphere as each chapter brings you a new sequence of tension, dread, suspense, mystery, and intrigue. DeGuire paces the plot well and uses backstories masterfully for each of the main characters, giving them emotional depth and making their actions and motives believable. I adored the partnership between Saul, Dracula, and Aoife. Fans of Stranger Things will love this book. Horror and supernatural fantasy readers shouldn't miss out on this one.

Amy Raines

Holiday Spirit is a horror story by John DeGuire. Bridgett Bishop absolutely loved giving out candy to trick-or-treaters on Halloween. It was her favorite holiday, but this year was different. Instead of just being called names by the children as they took the candy, the kids left her bloody and bruised. As a real witch, she realized she could get revenge for their behavior. She hired some hands to help her build a prison in her cellar. She also installed automatic feeders so the children wouldn’t starve or die of thirst. Why were the kids so cruel when they were trick-or-treating at Bridgett’s house? How will the old witch get revenge? If she captures the children, what does she intend to do with them? Will she get caught, or will she teach the mischievous children a deadly lesson in manners?

I absolutely loved Holiday Spirit! This unexpectedly unique story kept me guessing what was going to happen on the next page. I loved Bridgett and her dark, magical revenge-seeking ways. The old witch is now one of my new favorite villains. It was easy to get caught up in the evil the kids unlocked while enjoying how much plotting Bridgett was doing behind the scenes. It drew me in so well from the very beginning that I read the entire book in one sitting! I recommend Holiday Spirit by John DeGuire to anyone who enjoys a thrill ride of a horror story that doesn’t conform to clichés and still sends chills down your spine.

Lex Allen

Holiday Spirit by John DeGuire presents age-old classic monsters living relatively everyday lives among the citizens of Killington, Vermont. Following a Halloween prank gone awry, enraging the witch Bridgett Bishop, village children begin to disappear without a trace. Classic monsters such as the vampire Dracula, the werewolf Aoife, Frankenstein, and others form an alliance, determined to solve the puzzle, save the children, and stop the tragedy before the holidays. The concept behind Holiday Spirit is absolutely genius, made more intriguing as it was developed and written by a first-time novelist—John DeGuire. Horror story fans, especially older fans who grew up with the likes of Dracula, Frankenstein, werewolves, and other assorted monsters, will be pleasantly surprised to discover them living everyday lives and, for the most part, accepted into the regular population of a modern-day, small town in New England, USA.

I loved the concept and the story twists and turns. The pace is established and maintained with relatively short chapters that often seem out of place until a chapter or two later bring them to light. Another intriguing aspect of John DeGuire's writing style is the introduction of small historical facts, such as the history behind Vlad, the real-life character who became the fictional Dracula, a brief story of the Salem witch burning, etc., and mixing these events seamlessly into the storyline. Black humor often relieves the horror scene as the story races to an exciting, perfectly designed, and executed conclusion. On a final note, Holiday Spirit would make a winning dramatic presentation in the form of a movie or television series.

Paul Zietsman

Holiday Spirit, a tale of horror and heroics, is John DeGuire's debut novel. The witch of the town of Killington, Vermont, swears revenge on its townspeople and kidnaps families' youngsters in her wicked quest for revenge. This follows after some of the town's children play a prank on the witch, Bridgett Bishop, on Halloween. Some call them monsters, but Saul Frankenstein, Dr. Ralph Ellison, or the invisible man, along with Count Dracula and his werewolf wife Aoife, are the only ones who are strong, daring, and cunning enough to come to the townspeople's rescue, although they are suspects in these terrible crimes themselves. Blood is shed, battles are won and lost, and good is separated from evil in this often gruesome tale of horror and heroic rescue.
Holiday Spirit features exemplary writing, which often includes strong use of metaphor and simile that is reminiscent of older yet good poetic works. This adds to the old-school feel of the novel, which includes subjects like paganism, witchcraft, and what is referred to as the dark arts. The characters are authentic, and John DeGuire masterfully leads the reader to discover their traits, both good and bad. I found there to be life lessons in this novel, such as there is a choice between acting as a good or a bad person, and the narrative often explores the extremities of good and evil. With these different, deep layers in place, it is no wonder that Holiday Spirit is a thrilling read that can be both scary and appealing at the same time.