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7 December 2012

Book tour blitz and review for Christmas Eve by Angela Burns

Review of a Christmas Eve by Angela Burns 

'Christmas Eve' is a simple Winter Ghost Story. A tale of one womans redemption from immeasurable suffering, taking you on a journey to the Heights of Heaven and the Gates of Hell, exploring the intricacies of human nature and the the deigns of fate through the eyes of a family left in torment following a horrendous accident. 'Christmas Eve' is a heart-warming read, set over the night when we all feel a little magic in the air.'

'Christmas Eve' is the story of a family burdened by grief at the loss of the beloved elder daughter, Jo, on Christmas Eve the previous year. In particular, her mother, Janet, who cannot let go of her sorrow and her anger toward the drunken driver who killed Jo. Janet is unable to see that her all consuming grief is not only dragging her deeper into a dark abyss of despair, but impacting on her husband Dave and younger daughter, Alice, driving an invisible wedge between them.

The arrival of a charismatic stranger on Christmas Eve is to have repercussions that neither she nor David could foresee. At first she is wary of Nick, and sees his arrival as an intrusion. However, Nick offers her an unusual gift, the choice of descending deeper into the darkness into which she has descended, or the chance to forge her own salvation and heal the rift driving her family apart, through suffering, self recognition and forgiveness.

This is a beautiful, poignant Christmas story, which I read almost in one sitting.  At first I  found the present tense narrative a little disconcerting, especially having  just read another story in that tense, which I did not particularly enjoy, and found very distracting and disjointed. This was the case with 'Christmas Eve' however. The present tense in this instance actually gives the story an immediacy and sense of reality which would not have worked quite so well had it been told in the past tense, and it is beautifully written with some almost poetic turns of phrase. As it unfolded it reminded me a little of 'A Christmas Carol' and also'The Shack' by William Paul Young. The inevitable drama of the climax is satisfying in itself, but this is followed by a lovely little twist, which not only reveals Nick's true identity, but gives a festive as well as a spiritual reason for his involvement with the family, and the part the youngest daughter played in his arrival, and makes  for a very satisfactory and heartwarming conclusion. I thoroughly enjoyed 'Christmas Eve'. I was glad I'd read it,  and it's one of the those rare stories that made me wish I'd written it myself!


“Jo’s on the phone.”

This simple sentence pushes her headlong into the abyss of insanity, causing her to throw up as she spirals into incomprehension, not caring which of these winter ghosts she is being persecuted by.

This isn’t real. This can’t be happening!

Repeating this mantra provides no comfort as she rocks back and forth on the sofa, sobbing wildly, floods of tears burning her, her hands covering her face. She lets out an almighty scream. Her dishevelled state and pitiful wails do not attract the revellers as she stands and looks around the room.

The familiar faces of friends and family from the past, all gathered for their annual celebration of the holiday they once held dear, remain oblivious to her presence.

Brutally trembling, holding onto the furniture for support, she makes her way slowly through the room. Disjointed snatches of conversations resonate in her skull, feeding an intense headache of confusion.

Jo is on the phone…I need to talk to Jo. Am I dead? Are these ghosts? Am I the Ghost? Why can’t they see me?

She was right; they couldn’t see her or hear her–apart from one man.

He stands resolutely in the bay window of the room, by the grandiose tree, in mid-conversation with Janet’s boss and her partner, when he stops and glances at her, smiling warmly.

Nick! She shouts in her mind, unable to form the word.

She tries again to call out, but each time the syllables stifle in her throat, sentencing her to a wretched silence from which she cannot flee.

Winking at her, he returns to his previous conversation.

You were here on that night, damn you! Why can’t I remember you?

Continuing through into the entrance hall, she slowly drags her feet on the flagstones, crippled by her sickness.

I must get to the phone.

There are more people there, many more, crammed, solemn, like cattle to the slaughter. This time, however, they do not belong to her memories. None of them speak as she ambles her way through. Hunched like zombies, they study her every step as she moves pathetically amongst them.

They can see me.

Their costumes reflect the history of the life once told in this home – four hundred years of history. Mortified, she remains possessed by the miraculous chance of hearing her daughter's beautiful voice again, and has no time to question what is happening.

As she approaches the kitchen where the phone is kept, a cold wind brushes past her arm. Horror-struck to see her other self sweep through her as she quickly walks towards the kitchen, towards the phone, another scream begins to curdle as she realises that she shares one common denominator with the guests in the
hall. They are all ghosts. The ghosts of Stonebridge Farm. It is only her determination to hear her daughter once again that chokes her cries, refocusing her.

I must … get … to that … phone.

Each weighty step exhausts her as she trudges through the walls of dead energy that surround her.

Am I dead? What the heck happened? Where’s Nick? I’m coming Jo … sweetheart … please don’t go … I’m coming.

The other Janet had already picked up the phone as she stumbles into the kitchen.

DAMN YOU, YOU SELFISH BITCH! THAT WAS MY CALL! She screams at herself in deathly silence.

Helpless and panicking, she calls wildly at the others to help her.

Please help me! HELP ME! She doesn’t know what she is doing … what she is saying! FOR GOD’S SAKE, PLEASE WON’T SOMEBODY HELP ME! I NEED TO SPEAK TO MY DAUGHTER!


About the Author:
Angela Burns is a retired Police Officer, living with her partner and children in Norwich, Norfolk. Having been given the gift of time, she now writes full time, living her ambition to share the stories that have floated around her head for so long.

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