Well, first of all can I just say how much I love that stunning snowy Edinburgh Castle cover by Mark Blackadder? Inside are four short stories, perfect coffee break reading, all very different but all reflecting a love of Edinburgh and all, of course, set in the festive season.
The first story is Christmas Witches by Anne Stenhouse. This is quite different from my usual kind of read but I enjoyed dipping into a different yet still recognisable Edinburgh back in the early 1800s. Liza Wardrop uses herbal medicine to help those who seek her advice. This leaves her open to accusations of witchcraft and the risk she may be kept from helping the wife of the Laird of Strahaven as the time draws near for her baby to be delivered. Could it be that someone else might benefit if her pregnancy is not successful? An intriguing historical mystery with an undercurrent of skulduggery!
Next is Under the Christmas Tree by Kate Blackadder. This is not the kind of Christmas tree you might envisage but a very unusual kind of Christmas tree. This story is set in Dunedin in New Zealand and strangely it’s the second time I’ve seen Dunedin mentioned this week alongside the fact that many of its street names are the same as Edinburgh’s! Jessica flies to New Zealand just before Christmas to console her sister Sophie but finds she’s not the one needing support. Under the Pohutokawa tree, she finds a glimmer of hope that she’s ready to begin looking forward to the future again. A hopeful tale about moving on after loss.
In The Christmas Present by Jane Riddell, Susie is rather taken aback when her partner Paul suggests they don’t make much of a fuss about Christmas but instead just get each other practical presents. She is about to take a career break and with his being an artist, it does make sense for them to economise but she is somewhat disappointed. However, she discovers something he is working on which makes her think that perhaps he does have plans to give her a more personal gift after all. All is not what it seems though as she uncovers a secret. This is a story with a twist in the tale which will leave you wondering just what Susie will do next!
If you forced me to pick a favourite from the four stories, I think it would be Christmas Dinner for One by Jennifer Young. This is a very touching story about Louisa who is facing her first Christmas without her husband and has decided to spend it alone, despite her daughter’s offer to have her at her house. Acting impulsively, she has a very different Christmas from the one she was expecting. This was a really heartwarming story and to me embodies the true spirit of the season – spending time with people is so much more important than the amount of money you spend on gifts.
At only around 40 pages, no matter how busy you think you’ll be over the next week, you’ll have time to fit in this short story collection. All the stories are perfectly paced giving you time to get to know the characters and a feel for the authors’ writing. They have another short story collection available called Capital Stories should you want to read more by them and all four authors have published other short stories or novels.
My thanks to the authors for my review copy. Capital Christmas Stories is available as an ebook and you can order a Kindle copy for only 99p here: Capital Christmas Stories.
From the back of the book
Capital Christmas Stories is a collection of four festive tales from Scotland’s capital. The four contributors write in different styles, different periods and different genres, but all share a love of their home city – and that shows through in the four stories in this collection.