ILL MET BY DARKNESS by Paul Finch - Review Part 4.
The final novella in this collection from Sarob Press is 'Spirit of the Season', which 'explores the idea of old Christmas, strange ritual, ancient powers and age-old winter terrors'. It certainly does.
The story begins with a childhood recollection of a rather creepy Christmas decoration. Then we move up to date with a husband and wife team planning the next in a series of books about folklore. The husband, a folklorist, has discovered what he thinks may be the first reference in English to Father Christmas - originally called 'Old Christmas'. He suspects that the familiar character has odd, dark origins and invites a medium to a remote, half-renovated castle where a strange manifestation allegedly took place in the reign of Henry V.
The medium - one inevitably thinks of Margaret Rutherford - is nervous and wonders if this is a standard haunting or something more peculiar. A foray into the cellars reveals that there are indeed some unburied secrets. Psychic powers are deployed and a very effective scene turns a moderately-paced ghost story into a frenetic chase, with the forces of darkness in full pursuit. At the end of the story the main character finds what he was looking for - in a way.