Horror and Chick Lit and Sci Fi–Oh My! Unconventional Christmas Fiction

Christa Deitrick, Librarian, Literature & Fiction Department,
Collage of books with uncoventional Christmas themes
You won’t find any Feliz Navi-duds on this book list. Ho-ho-hope you like it!

If Scrooge makes you snooze and The Gift of the Magi has lost its holiday mojo, I am here to offer you some unconventional options. Our shelves are filled with seasonal fiction in a wide variety of genres, many of which you might find delightfully unexpected. Are you looking for a bodice-ripper with a Christmas theme? Or maybe you’ve got a yen for murder under the mistletoe. You can celebrate Christmas in the ‘hood or on a distant planet or in the creepy lair of an evil Anti-Santa. Think outside the box this year and go Christmas genre-hopping. You won’t find any Feliz Navi-duds on this list. Ho-ho-hope you like it!

Christmas Genre #1: Horror

Book cover for Krampus: The Yule Lord
Krampus: The Yule Lord

Feast your eyes on Krampus the Yule Lord! Isn’t he just dreamy? Krampus has a bone to pick with jolly old St. Nick. Apparently, hundreds of years ago, Santa imprisoned Krampus and usurped his special magic. Now the Lord of the Yule (not to be confused with the Lord of the Dance) is out for revenge, and it’s up to a struggling songwriter named Jesse to heal this ancient rift before Christmas as we know it disappears forevah!

Christmas Genre #2: Mystery

Book cover for Murder for Christmas
Murder for Christmas
Duncan, Francis

When midnight strikes on Christmas Eve, the revelers at an English country estate discover that presents aren’t the only thing under the Christmas tree...there’s a corpse under there, too! As if that weren’t shocking enough, the stiff resembles Father Christmas. It’s up to amateur sleuth Mordecai Tremaine to suss out the culprit before anyone else in the mansion gets the gift of Murder for Christmas.

Christmas Genre #3: Bodice-Ripper

Book cover for His Christmas Pleasure
His Christmas Pleasure
Maxwell, Cathy

When her father threatens to marry her off to a man twice her age (with thirteen children!), Abigail decides to elope with the handsome Baron de Vasconia. She knows all about his notorious reputation. The Baron is the most seductive man in London, but he has promised to protect her, so Abigail allows herself to be tempted into his bed while vowing to guard her heart against him at all costs. The Baron believes he's entered into a marriage of convenience with a charming and wealthy young woman, but the days—and nights—Abigail spends in his arms soon reform this rogue.

Christmas Genre #4: Urban Fiction

Book cover for Nikki Turner Presents Christmas in the Hood: Street Chronicles
Nikki Turner Presents Christmas in the Hood: Street Chronicles

Christmas in the Hood is a collection of gritty short stories that reveal what the holidays bring to those who live by the code of the street. In “Secret Santa” a woman must decide what she’s willing to sacrifice after her children’s Christmas presents are stolen; in “Me and Grandma” an old lady sells crack to bring Christmas cheer to her needy grandkids, and in “Holiday Hell” a woman must raise $23,000 to repay a loan shark or her sister will become a ghost of Christmas past. A Christmas Carol it ain’t! Take a walk on the wild side and download it today.

Christmas Genre #5: Fantasy

Book cover for Christmas Bestiary
Christmas Bestiary

Christmas Bestiary is a collection of holiday tales, each of which features one or more mythical creatures. You’ll find stories about selkies and sea serpents, pixies and elves, a transplanted Yeti, and a blue-nosed reindeer. Contributing authors include Jane Yolen, Tanya Huff, and Harry Turtledove. I tend to be irritated by fantasy fiction, but maybe yule like it!

Christmas Genre #6: Western

Book cover for A MacCallister Christmas
A MacCallister Christmas
Johnstone, William W.

Duff MacCallister’s twin cousins Andrew and Rosanna are all set to join him for Christmas at the Sky Meadow Ranch. But en route from Cheyenne to Chugwater, the twins' train is held up by a gang of bloodthirsty killers who are out to take it all–the train, the money, the twins–and a woman from Duff's past who might be the greatest present of all. But Duff's got a gift to deliver, too. It's called gun-blazing justice. If you’re in the mood for some holiday ass-whoopin’, this is the read for you!

Christmas Genre #7: Historical Fiction

Book cover for The Mischief of the Mistletoe
The Mischief of the Mistletoe
Willig, Lauren

Despite her dear friend Jane Austen's warning against teaching, Arabella accepts a position at a girls' school just before Christmas. She soon meets Reginald "Turnip" Fitzhugh, who is mistaken for an elusive spy known as the Pink Carnation. When Turnip and Arabella stumble upon a beautifully wrapped Christmas pudding with a cryptic message inside, the pair are launched on a Yuletide adventure that ranges from the Austens' modest drawing room to an awe-inspiring estate. Is it possible that the fate of the British Empire rests in Arabella and Turnip's hands in the form of a pudding? There’s only one way to find out and I think you know what that is!

Christmas Genre #8: Science Fiction

Book cover for A Lot Like Christmas
A Lot Like Christmas
Willis, Connie

A Lot Like Christmas is a collection of holiday-themed short stories with a distinct yet subtle science fiction flavor. The vibe is a bit like The Twilight Zone, with speculative stories that take unexpected turns and end up making you think. Author Connie Willis also provides a list (with commentary) of her picks for the all-time best Christmas movies, books, and TV shows. Willis’ fiction is well worth a read, but the list alone makes this holiday charmer worthwhile.

Christmas Genre #9: Chick Lit

Book cover for Royal Holiday
Royal Holiday
Guillory, Jasmine

Vivian has been out of the country a grand total of once, so she’s happy to tag along on her daughter’s work trip to England to style a royal family member. Vivian becomes instantly attracted to a certain private secretary and his charming accent. Malcolm has worked for the Queen for years and has never given anyone a personal tour—until now. When flirtatious banter turns into a kiss under the mistletoe, things snowball into a full-on fling. The clock is ticking on their holiday romance, but Malcolm and Vivian are completely fine with ending their short, steamy affair come New Year’s Day...or are they?

Christmas Genre #10: Dog Lovers

Book cover for A Heartfelt Christmas Promise
A Heartfelt Christmas Promise
Naigle, Nancy

Who can resist a puppy in a Santa suit? Certainly not me. That top seems a little too small for him, though. Why are the sleeves so short? Do you think he’s really wearing it, or did they add it on in post? And are his eyes really giving that gleam? That gleam is super-cute! Also, is it just me or does something about his lopsided grin remind you of O.G. Han Solo? I guess I should mention that the plot of this book involves some chick who sets out to shut down a fruitcake factory and then falls for the owner’s son. But with a cover like that, who cares? Somebody read this book at once and get back to me about how the dog figures in.

Christmas Genre #11: Cat Fanciers

Book cover for The Nine Lives of Christmas
The Nine Lives of Christmas
Roberts, Sheila

And for the hardcore Cat Fanciers out there (is there any other kind?),
bestselling author Sheila Roberts offers up a Christmas novel about a matchmaking cat who brings a couple together just in time for the holidays. Merrilee, the nice lady who works at the Pet Palace, is too shy to make a move on ladies’ man Zach, and Zach thinks he's all wrong for a nice girl like Merrilee. It's going to take all of Ambrose the cat's feline wiles―and maybe even a good old-fashioned Christmas miracle―to make them both realize that what they're looking for is right in front of their eyes.

Christmas Genre #12: Amish

Book cover for An Amish Christmas Wedding: Four Stories
An Amish Christmas Wedding: Four Stories

In case you weren’t aware, Amish fiction is a thing. A keyword search for it in our catalog yields hundreds of hits, with titles like Amish Midwives, Matched and Married, Her Forgiving Amish Heart, and Room on the Porch Swing. So it should come as no surprise that “Holiday Amish” is a thing, too. An Amish Christmas Wedding is but one example. Is this a sign that 21st-century readers are longing to step away from the dizzying daze of social media and cryptocurrency in order to embrace simpler times and strapping bearded farm boys? Dear reader, I fervently hope so. Check out one of these titles today and get your Amish on!

Thanks for sticking it out with me through twelve holiday genres. Here’s wishing everyone a horrific/romantic/historic/fantastic/western/urban/canine/feline/mysterious/sexy/Amish Christmas that is out of this world!