Surely one of the more untraditional collections of short stories published in recent memory, A Kudzu Christmas, is a beguiling set of 12 supremely spooky Southern mysteries. In the unsettling Swimming Without Annette, writer Alix Strauss creates a story of vigilantism readers won't soon forget. After her lover is killed in the alley outside a local diner, Karen stakes out the place. While she waits and watches and eats countless tuna melts, Karen reminisces about Christmases past, including the one when her lover gives her a glass star. Suffice it to say that beautiful star becomes a weapon by the end of the story. In Yes, Ginny, by Suzanne Hudson, a young girl whose good-for-nothing stepfather does little but drink and berate is given a little holiday wish of her own when he suddenly disappears on Christmas morning. Chilly and surreal, A Kudzu Christmas offers a grown-up reprieve from all things Santa.

Amy Scribner is celebrating the holidays with her family in Olympia, Washington.

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