A Firefighter Christmas Carol and Other Stories by Douglas R. Brown is a collection of hard hitting, real-world horror stories with a wisp of the paranormal. Fitting perfectly into the category of gut-punch horror, this one will leave an impact on readers.
And a word of caution; similar to how a firefighter may touch a wall to see if there is fire roaring on the other side, readers will want to check out the content warning before diving in here. (I’ve added that below)
Full disclosure: I was given a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. This did not affect my rating in any way.
Let’s dive in!
My Thoughts on Firefighter Christmas Carol and Other Stories by Douglas R. Brown
Right first thing, there is a content warning from the author that I really appreciate. As the warning was very specific, I will add a photo of that below, but the gist of it is that this book covers some really heavy topics such as suicide and PTSD. Suicide is a tricky one for me, but this author handled it very well.
Each story features a first responder and centers around their struggles either with the job itself or with the aftermath of being on the job. Each one captures a different human emotion; from soul-sucking emptiness, guilt, and loneliness all the way to the burning emotions of frustration and rage. Readers will have their hearts broken over and over as we meet each character in these tales.
But looking past the emotion, there is also a ton of action, horror, and ghosts!
I loved every one of these stories!
My top two favorites from the collection were:
- Death Alarm
Here are my thoughts on each tale:
Firefighter Christmas Carol
This tale was A Christmas Carol reimagining and oh my, what a gut punch this one is. Going on the usual trips, we see this man’s past, present, and future. Each one was so upsetting to see.
There is so much heartbreak and horror included in these scenes. Will he be able to pull back and get help before it’s too late?
A tale about a man that sticks to routine and enjoys his job as a nighttime janitor.
This one seems so everyday, but wow the little hints that were dropped in here… they don’t add up until you know exactly what is going on. I felt so bad for this poor guy. It’s scary how the brain can betray us.
When the tragic events of one fire becomes a legend for veterans to tell the new rookie, this woman heeds the warning when going into her first fire. But there’s something very sinister going on with this scene…
To begin with, basement fires sound absolutely terrifying. I cannot imagine being in these men and women’s shoes. What a great and spooky tale about getting out alive.
Told in two main timelines, we meet a man that is struggling with his anger issues while the other is just starting to feed into his anger after his wife receives a message from a troll.
When these two timelines merge… phew! I gotta say I love the idea of a Dexter-like vigilante that goes after people that act up on the internet! I’d certainly love to see it.
When a man’s daughter is kidnapped, he takes off after the man that took her. And he won’t stop until he has her back again.
Oh I love when a story begins and you just find yourself automatically rooting for one character without having any context. Turns out, I was rooting for the bad guy!
When a woman is called to a scene of a DOA, she is looped into helping the ghost cover up what he had done before he passes on. She can’t believe that she is actually helping, but what she learns next is much worse…
This poor woman! What a tale this was; I was totally hooked. I could definitely see this one as a longer novel or a film! I love this idea so much.
My Favorite Passages from Firefighter Christmas Carol and Other Stories
The effects of PTSD and the progression from PTS may come on fast or slowly over time like the proverbial frog in a pot of water. By the time the person suffering realizes there is a problem, the water might already be boiling.
Eventually, the medic truck stopped, it’s wobbly siren slowly dying like someone was strangling it. A lurching shadow swallowed him from behind and he lifted his eyes to see the cloaked figure from the driver seat hovering silently above him. The black hood shadowed a long, narrow, pale face with a gaping mouth in the throes of a silent scream. His eyes were the blackest of pits.
After deep breath, he leaped into the hallway and landed in some kind of made-up kung fu stance. He wasn’t sure what he would do if someone is actually there, but he knew he would do something. Most likely scream and run.
My Final Thoughts on Firefighter Christmas Carol and Other Stories
This is such a special collection. I’m so honored to have a copy now sitting on my shelf. The work that the author is doing here to help others understand more about PTSD is wonderful. I certainly learned a lot. Thank you, Mr. Brown!
This collection is something I would highly recommend to horror fans who enjoy horror stories that hit really close to home but also have a paranormal twist. But tread lightly with this one! I had to put this one down between stories to pull myself out of the darkness.
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Thanks for reading!
And shout-out to the author for sending me a beautiful hardcover copy with this wonderful note: