A Very Merry Toronto Christmas by Aislinn O’ Loughlin

Hello everybody! Today, I have another post about how characters would spend the festive season, and this time it is by Aislinn O’ Loughlin. Her book Big Bad Me might seem like a Halloween book, but it is in fact very wintry. Onto the post!

The buzzing started in Jolt. You know Jolt, right? Those generic-cute coffee-shops, with generic-cute artwork and terrible coffee-puns every- where? (It was December, so we were currently ‘Dreaming of a Flat White Christmas’.) – Evie Wilder, Big Bad Me

If you haven’t read Big Bad Me, you’d be forgiven for not realising it’s a Christmas book. After all, the monster-packed adventure does scream Halloween vibes – but it’s also a cosy, snowy winter’s tale about two sisters trying to get their family back together for the holidays, even if they have to take out an entire vampire nest and rescue a small town in the process. It’s basically Die Hard, with monsters. And without Bruce Willis (or a skyscraper).

Okay, maybe it’s not Die Hard, but this story of two Toronto-based sisters risking everything for a festive family reunion is pretty personal to me – because I wrote the first version while I was living in Toronto, and getting back to my family for Christmas really did feel like a matter of life or death. Which is a shame, because winter in Toronto is a really special time. The Wilder sisters’ Christmas would have been packed with fun and adventure, even without their spur-of-the-moment road-trip to creepy murder central.

As Big Bad Me opens, Dr. Sinéad Wilder has been missing for ten days – and away from home even longer. But I’m sure she stuck around long enough to squeeze in one last SANTA CLAUS PARADE with her girls. That’s definitely a Wilder family tradition. Taking place on the third Sunday of November (so, 20th November in 2022) , the Toronto Santa Claus Parade has been running since 1905 and marks official start of the Christmas season with floats, bands, dancers and celebrity guests.

Even better, the route runs along the junction of Bloor and Bathurst, where I’ve always imagined the Wilders living (and where I used to live), so they could just bundle up against the sub-zero temperatures, grab their take-away drinks from Jolt and walk the couple minutes to the festivities! Come to think of it, Stalker Rom probably was there too. I like to imagine him wearing a Santa hat trying to blend in…

Rom probably stalked Evie and Kate to the CAVALCADE OF LIGHTS the next weekend too. Dr. Wilde would’ve been off on her “business trip” by then, but there’s no way Evie and Kate would miss this spectacular festival of light, music and dance in Nathan Phillips Square (by the City Hall) – it’s been running for 56 years, so it’s definitely a family tradition, although I’m sure Rom hated all that human buzz and excitement just as much as Evie loved it.

Kate, meanwhile, probably soaked in the artsy prettiness of the magical light installations, and got all warm and fuzzy watching the happy kids with their parents at OUTDOOR ICE-SKATING RINK – a giant water fountain, frozen solid for the winter and open to the public. Not that the girls have ever been allowed give it a try, of course, Dr. Wilder’s always been far too worried about an unexpected spill turning into a full-on Monster On Ice extravaganza. But Kate still enjoys watching other people have fun.

As Kate started worrying about not hearing from Mom, she probably tried to distract herself – and Evie – with more festive fun. I’m sure she whisked Evie off for Christmas shopping at THE DISTILLERY DISTRICT CHRISTMAS VILLAGE, which is packed with artisan stalls and craft stands where Kate definitely picked up thoughtful gifts for Evie, Dr. Wilder (and maybe even for Zoe, if she was feeling brave). Meanwhile, Evie no doubt salivated over the delicious sweet treats and hot chocolate on offer, but thanks to her “diabetes” she wouldn’t have risked treating herself to, say, a Nanaimo Bar or Funnel Cake. Instead, she probably opted for something savory, like a Gourmet Poutine. Poutine, if you’ve never heard of it, is one of those “sounds weird but is actually amazing” Canada delicacies: thick potato fries covered in gravy and a mountain of squeaky cheese curds (your cheese curds really have to squeak, apparently)! You can enjoy them just like that, but I’m sure our little unaware-wolf Evie got hers piled high with steak and bacon as well.

Of course, The Wilder Sisters had to balance all this festive fun with school work, so they probably didn’t have time to do much more before Stalker Rom attacked Evie and ripped their lives – and Christmas plans – completely apart. But one thing Kate definitely squeezed in after school was the HOLIDAY LIGHTS TOUR at CASA LOMA! There’s no way my Disney-loving girls aren’t obsessed with this place year-round. Not only is an actual gothic revival castle just five minutes from their house, but Casa Loma has doubled for everything from the X-Men Mansion to Bruce Wayne’s Mansion (in Titans), and even served as the setting for the scene where Michael Cera kicked Chris Evans’ butt in Scott Pilgrim Vs The World (be still, their pop-culture loving hearts)! Tickets are little on the pricey side ($45 each) but Kate does have her Mom’s emergency credit card – and seeing their favourite tourist spot all lit up for Christmas, with live music and a Santa’s grotto definitely counts as urgent to the Wilder girls!

All in all, Christmas in Toronto has plenty to offer – whether you’re an excitable teenage monster who doesn’t understand why your head won’t stop stress-buzzing, a slayer trying to take your mind off the your Mom went hunting for murderous werewolves and stopped texting back, or just your run-of-the-mill creepy monstrous stalker waiting for the perfect moment to get your sweet, innocent prey all alone before attacking her with your claw hand. Just maybe don’t let Santa find out about that last bit, eh?

Thank you so much for reading! Have you read Big Bad Me, or are you planning to? Do you think you’d enjoy spending Christmas in Toronto? I’d love to chat in the comments!

Speak very soon,

Amy xxx


Author: goldenbooksgirl

Disabled book blogger who also writes TV, film, music and other posts from time to time | UKYABA Champion Teen 2018 | Email: goldenbooksgirl@gmail.com | she/her

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