Ah Christmas, a time for peace on earth and goodwill for all men. Well, unless you are unfortune enough to find yourself trapped in a cursed hotel like the gingerbread men.
The Gingerbread Men by Joanna Corrance is a horror novel set in a hotel all but hidden in the Scottish Highlands. A grand place, yet outside of the mysterious owner and the all-male staff who obey her every order the building is void of life. Not a single guest arrives. The men occupy their time with their daily chores and sharing spooky stories by the fire. Eric is the newest arrival to the complex, having followed Delia after a mere glance from her at a Christmas market in Edinburgh, leaving behind his fiancee he proposed to earlier that very day.
‘Eric,’ Eleanor repeated, irritably brushing a curly blonde strand from her eyes and tucking it back beneath her hat. ‘Are you listening to me?’
Glancing down, I blinked back to the present and placed a hand on her padded arm.
‘Eleanor, I’m sorry.’ I wasn’t actually sorry, but it seemed like the right thing to say. Ignoring her bemused expression, I removed my hand from her arm and walked past her without looking back.
The entrancing woman stood by the mulled wine hut with a small, triumphant smile. The strange combination of the thrill and the wickedness of what I was doing only drew me in further. As I got closer, a rich, woody, Christmas smell washed over me: spices, ginger and nutmeg as she stood by a steaming vat of mulled wine. I was intoxicated.
Wordlessly, she took my arm and led me away.Joanna Corrance, The Gingerbread Men
Eric is so caught up in Delia’s charm that he doesn’t see how bad his situation is until he is deep in it. By then, it might just be too late.
Right off the bat, Eric is kind of a jerk. I mean who leaves their girlfriend of three years, the woman he just promised to love for the rest of his life, for some random woman? Even when he gets to the hotel he is very judgemental to the other blokes. From the get-go, I thought, “you sort of deserve whatever nasty stuff fate has in store for you.” Although, that might just be me. I am a big supporter of the notion that if you f around, you find out. Still, as the events in the novel get worse, I can’t help but feel a bit bad for the guy and the others in similar circumstances. Especially when you learn just how much control Delia has over him from the very start.
As a Scot, I feel I can say this. While the Highlands are stunning, they can be creepy at night. It is so quiet and isolated in particular regions that you can go for long stretches without seeing another person. That makes it the perfect location for scary tales. I’m not the only one to think so, chances are good that you have heard of the legend of Sawney Bean. The idea of being trapped in such a remote location, with no way to contact the outside world is scary enough, but toss in mind control and murder and you have a nightmarish situation.
The Gingerbread Men is dripping with gothic suspense. You just know something sinister is coming but are powerless to stop it. If anything, it keeps you hooked. It’s a subtle sort of dread until around the halfway mark when the terror is taken up a level. I can’t say much about the plot as it is best experienced blind, but remember that nothing is as it seams. Nothing can be trusted, not even your own mind.
Want some festive frights? Take a bite out of The Gingerbread Men.
Leave a Reply