Once Upon a December Nightmare

Rated 4.75/5 based on 5 reviews
A Horror Novelette

Four friends decide to take a detour on an old mountain road, but something is after them. Who will survive?

Includes monster's origin story "Nightmare at the Freak Show" More

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Words: 15,730
Language: English
ISBN: 9781301852109
About Cherie Reich

Cherie Reich is a speculative fiction writer and library assistant living in Virginia. When she isn't writing stories, this self-proclaimed bookworm is reading. Several of her short stories were featured in various anthologies and magazines. Her books include the horror collection Nightmare, the space fantasy collection Gravity, and the fantasy series The Foxwick Chronicles and The Fate Challenges. She is the Vice President of Valley Writers and a member of the Virginia Writers Club and Untethered Realms.

Also in Nightmare

Also by This Author


Review by: Ben A. Bell on Nov. 27, 2013 :
This novella is a perfect read as the weather turns cold. You can stay bundled up in your blankets, sipping cocoa, and be very grateful it’s the characters who are out in the snowy wilderness and not you. After a wrong turn and car trouble, the four characters in this story end up in a very bad situation. They’re so far in the wilderness that there’s no way to communicate by phone and no way to get help. Despite the fact they’re not dressed for the cold (one poor character is wearing sandals), they are forced into the dark, frigid night in search of aid. Unfortunately for them, they’re not alone. Something else, something with claws, fangs, and an insatiable appetite is also prowling the woods.

I could feel not only the debilitating coldness of the setting, but the characters’ mounting exhaustion and terror. Reich’s solid narration leads the reader down a twisting trail with the characters -- whether you want to go or not! The story ramps up to a horrific climax, but it’s not over yet. More people in the future suffer the same fate and we’re tantalized by a glimpse of where the monster may have come from and what motivates it. But you’ll have to read the second installment, Nightmare Ever After, to find out the answers!
(review of free book)

Review by: Wayne White on Feb. 15, 2013 : (no rating)
Book Review

Once Upon a December Nightmare


Cherie Reich

Reviewed by Wayne L. White

A planned winter evening at the movies for four adventurous young adults takes an unexpected turn when their venue is sold out. On a lark, James takes his three female companions for a ride along a dark, single-lane gravel road in an unknown wilderness. Denise confides to Cassie that she and James had enjoyed traveling this trail and not to worry, it comes back out on the main road up ahead.
After seven miles along the rough trail, a fallen tree blocks the road and forces them to back up to a place wide enough to turn around. The carcases of four deer lying side by side along the road in the clearing brings the first touch of fright to the girls. James turns the truck around and starts back the way they came. The uneasiness in the girl's stomachs turns to fear when the truck's lights fail. With only the thin beam of a flashlight to penetrate the darkness, James is unable to find the problem. When he returns to the driver's seat, the truck won't start.
At this point, Ms. Reich turns up the terror as the girls realize they'll have to spend the night cramped in the cold truck or walk the seven miles of dark trail back to the highway. The only thing they can agree on is that―from their collective experience with horror movies―you never leave the group. Whatever they do, they must do together. They abandon the truck and press into the night.
Unrecognizable sounds punctuate the darkness, heightening the tension as something appears to be following them, getting closer as they move along.
Cherie is no newbie to the fantasy genre, but jeepers creepers! with Once Upon a December Nightmare, she brings new heights to her portfolio of scare tactics, keeping her readers feasting on their fingernails. This tale is not for bedtime reading if you want to “sleep tight.” Those won't be bedbugs biting in your nightmares.
Perhaps Ms. Reich's home in Catawba, Virginia, sandwiched between the Appalachian Trail and the Otherworlds, has embellished her life with vivid childhood memories―memories of journeys to places like Dragon's Tooth and Foxwick where the lines between fantasy and reality dim. Regardless, she's at it again, and tantalizingly so. Pick up a copy of Once Upon a December Nightmare and get yourself a good five-star read and a darkened closet full of nightmares for weeks thereafter. Chills guaranteed.
(review of free book)

Review by: Cher Green on Sep. 18, 2012 :
Once Upon a December Nightmare is a rare breed. Very scary, well written, a page turner. It begins as an innocent outing for four friends, but becomes much more. We all wonder if urban legends are true, but what happens when you are face to face with one. Can you count on your friends, or will you stand alone. Read this book to find out how James, Mary, Denise, and Cassie stand up against a legend.

A must read!
(reviewed the day of purchase)

Review by: Aubrie Dionne on Sep. 18, 2012 :
A chilling story of an urban legend dating back to the Civil War.

Four friends travel a seldom used back road in the middle of a cold December night on a joyride straight to hell. Two are sisters, two are boyfriend and girlfriend, and two are best friends. Only when the claws come out do we see where the loyalties lie.

Once Upon a December Nightmare is very scary. Reich plays upon what we all fear most: the unknown. She incorporates a neat dose of Civil War history, and creates her own urban legend. The characters are excellently done with well rounded back stories and secrets that lead them to their own brutal ends.

The imagery is stark and chilling with “brake lights” that “ bathe the trees in red” and a forest of trees that “lines the path like enemy soldiers”. Sounds are littered throughout deep silence like a great horror movie. The forest “cracks like a gun shot” and you hear the sound of “clothes ripping.”

Don’t read this story in the dark!
(reviewed the day of purchase)

Review by: Christine Rains on Sep. 17, 2012 :
It was suppose to be a fun winter night touring the back roads with old friends, but a tree blocks the trail and the old truck breaks down. There's no light, warmth, or cell phone reception. Cassie, Mary, Denise, and James decide to walk the few miles back to the main road. The cold and darkness adds friction to an already disgruntled group, and Cassie's scary story doesn't help ease the tension. There's also something stalking them in the woods. Perhaps Cassie's story holds more truth than they want to believe.

Cherie Reich has managed to pack vivid detail and nail-biting suspense in this short horror tale. I can still feel the cold and hear the strange cracks from the woods. It seemed like a normal night for the young folk, but I fast on the edge of my seat, and I couldn't relax even when I reached the end. The most unique part of this story is that the reader is allowed to see through all the characters' eyes. Each of the four characters have their own sections and it's like peeling back layers of an onion. More is revealed about the dynamics of the group and each individual's inner most feelings. Cherie does a marvelous job with characterization. This is the perfect story for a cold, dark night when you're bundled up in bed. You'll need a big blanket when those chilly goose bumps crawl up your arms!
(reviewed the day of purchase)

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