Cover Image: A Firefighter Christmas Carol

A Firefighter Christmas Carol

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Member Reviews

A great collection of short stories!

This book was a good view into what Essential Workers have to see and feel throughout their work days.  PTSD and mental illnesses are everywhere and it meant a lot to read about it from the authors point of view.

A well written book and I look forward to reading future releases.

*Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a copy of the book in exchange for a honest review.*
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4 stars, which means I really liked it.

I work with first responders.  Granted, I am behind the scenes so all of my experiences with the "tough stuff" is second hand.  However, I have spent many years now observing how the "tough stuff" impacts those who are out there seeing, experiencing, and living the things most of us are lucky enough to never see.

I am not one to re-read books.  However, I do re-read my favorite book yearly, and I read or listen to Dickens's A Christmas Carol in December.  In other words, I have to really, REALLY enjoy a book to pick it up a second (or more) time(s).  I think A Firefighter Christmas Carol will be a yearly, December read for me.  Ghosts, Christmas, and real life experiences (PTSD, etc.) is a good combination for those who love the spooky and the holiday season.  A Firefighter Christmas Carol is also an excellent reminder to count our blessings that we have first responders.  I suspect that this book either has or will help several people get the help that they need.  

In addition to all of the above, these stories are well written.  It is indeed heavy, but it's not even a fraction of the weight that these guys carry with them daily and for the rest of their lives.
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Elliot is a burned out firefighter on  the verge of suicide.  

This is a great book that shows many ways that first responders can get help with PTSD.  

The story is written in the style of a Christmas Carol.  Some of the stories are hard to read but you must get through them or you will regret it.  I'm not a first responder but this book showed some of the things that can be encountered as one.  I have more respect now than I ever have.
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I really enjoyed this collection, it has a Joe Hill, Alfred Hitchcock feel to it.

It was well written and easy to read, but still gritty with some unexpected twists, not all the stories are about fire fighters, which for me is good,  it gave the book a variety of stories my favourites being Janitor and CatchTime, but they are all excellent.

This is the first book I’ve read by this author but I’ve already added another of his books to my ‘to read’ list. 

*Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a copy of the book in exchange for a honest review.*
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First, I’d like to thank NetGalley, BookSiren, and the author for a free e-book in exchange for an honest review. 2021 was a great reading year for me and this collection was the perfect book to close the year with. All the stories have interesting plots and even though they deal with heavy topics, Brown manages to sprinkle humor throughout all of them without making light of said topics. The collection is centered around A Firefighter’s Christmas Carol, which is an adaptation of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens and has as its protagonist a firefighter named Ted that has been struggling with PTSD. Brown writes a touching foreword where he explains how he has also struggled with PTSD due to his job as a firefighter and how Ted’s struggles were largely based on his own. During the foreword the author also continues to say that his intention with this story is helping others understand PTSD better, to end the stigma around it, and show to everyone that having a mental illness is not a moral failure nor does it equate to weakness. It takes a great deal of courage to be so open about your trauma, your struggles, and your downfalls as Brown does during his foreword. Another thing that I liked about these stories is that most of them have first responders as protagonists, which is something I’ve never seen before but it makes complete sense, because who sees more death and suffering than them? 

Brown did an incredible job of showing the mental and emotional toll that the job has on first responders and how mental illness, in general, can turn someone’s life upside down. It’s a heavy and emotional read, but it’s one of the best short story collections out there so if it’s possible for you, I 100% recommend checking it out.

A Firefighter’s Christmas Carol – During Christmas Eve the firefighter Ted is visited by three ghosts (the past, the present, the future) who urge him to seek help before it’s too late. A heart-wrenching depiction of how struggling with PTSD and refusing to seek treatment can change someone and how that also hurts the one closest to them. It is a heavy story, I was crying by the end and had to take a break before reading the rest of the collection, please check the content warnings at the bottom of this review and practice self-care during and after your reading.

Janitor – This story has more twists and turns than a rollercoaster, every single time I thought I’d figured out where it was going the author threw me for another loop. The protagonist is the night janitor and quite fond of his job, that is, until mysterious things start to happen during his shift and make him fear for his life.

Death Alarm – Ted has been having a hard time enduring the teasing of his coworkers in the fire department, but being a rookie means that he must play it cool if he wants the others to respect him. However, playing it cool becomes a lot harder when Ted starts seeing a woman that isn’t actually there.  It was by far my favorite story of this collection, I loved the plot, the twist, the pace, everything except a tiny plot hole at the end. I don’t want to spoil anything, so forgive me for keeping it vague, but, during the first half of the story, there is a specific reason that the fire alarm goes off. However, in the second half, the fire alarm going off seems random and a bit like a Deus Ex Machina.

CatchTime – It goes back and forth in time as it follows two separate events that show how far some people’s anger issues go. Also, it’s a great cautionary tale about why you should always be kind to others, after all, you never know what a stranger can be capable of…

Skelwaller Lake – A fast-paced story that begins in the middle of a deadly chase and had me holding my breath all the way through. A large part of this story’s enjoyment relies on the reader not being sure of what’s happening and that’s why I won’t reveal anything else. However, like with all the other stories in this collection, it can be very triggering for some people, so I recommend checking the specific content warnings at the end of this review.

DOA - Toni gets more than she bargained for when she agrees to help a ghost solve his unfinished business and slowly remembers events from her own past. This story ties in with the first one, A Firefighter’s Christmas Carol, and it has a very open end, which makes me hope that the author writes a sequel featuring both Toni and Ted.

	By Marina Garrido

Content Warnings
A Firefighter Christmas Carol - Suicide, Substance Abuse, Child Death.
Janitor - Self Flagellation, Death, Hallucinations. 
Death Alarm - Murder.
CatchTime - Murder.
Skelwaller Lake - Murder, Child Kidnapping, Implied Child SA, Body Horror.
DOA - Suicide, Murder, Child Death.
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I enjoyed all of the stories but especially the firefight carol. But then I always love twist on a Christmas Carol.
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When the holiday season comes along, I like to find a new book, movie or soundtrack to add to the various favorites I watch and read around this time of year.  One of my favorite tales is A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.  There are tons of remakes and re-imaginings out there, but none like the one advertised in A Firefighter Christmas Carol and Other Stories by Douglas R. Brown.  Reading a brief summary, I just knew I had to check it out.
	Elliot, a burned-out fireman and paramedic, is about to embark on a Christmas like none he has ever experienced before.  Working overnight at Medic 22, Elliot, much like Ebenezer Scrooge, gets his first visit at midnight.  It’s his long-dead former partner, Jimmy.  Much like Elliot, Jimmy was feeling the effects of PTSD, something every first responder goes through, but none likes to talk about.  One night, severe depression caused Jimmy to take his own life.  Now, he’s back to warn Elliot that if he doesn’t face his demons, Elliot is doomed to end up like Jimmy.  Like Scrooge, Elliot doesn’t believe him, but the visitations he gets over the next few hours are enough to cause him to see the light.
	A Firefighter’s Christmas Carol is a brand new twist on an old classic.  Being a firefighter and paramedic himself, Douglas R. Brown knows a thing or two about demons.  He, like his main character, suffered from PTSD.  Many people think that first responders go out there and do their job, hardened to the effects of the misery they see, but those people will be wrong.  First responders go through the ringer, responding to calls at all hours, seeing all sorts of horrific things…heart wrenching experiences that most average folks couldn’t handle.  But first responders are expected to push through these things and get the job done.  In fact, many won’t even acknowledge the aftereffects of the damage caused by PTSD.  
	We lose to many good first responders to their demons.  This story is one very special way to address that issue and make it known to those first responders that they are cherished and important members of our society.  They are family members and friends and all-around good people who deserve so much more than the suffering they go through.  Douglas R. Brown knows this, and he expresses it beautifully both in his Introduction and in A Firefighter’s Christmas Carol.
	Of course, that’s not the only tale in this book – just the longest and the most emotionally charged.  The rest of the book proves that Mr. Brown has a tremendous flare for the shocking and horrific.  There is Janitor, a tale about a night janitor who realizes that the building he cleans is occupied by someone he doesn’t really want to get to know.  There’s CatchTime, which asks one very important question: how well do we really know our loved ones after all?  There’s DOA, a story about a young paramedic with some rather strange abilities.
	Douglas R. Brown is a gifted writer, descriptive enough to put us in every locale he writes about.  His knowledge of the ins and outs of a firehouse and paramedic crew ads to his short stories, lending them more credibility outside of the supernatural elements.  I could picture everything that Brown wrote about in my mind’s eye – that’s the sign of a great writer.  I loved all of his tales, but A Firefighter’s Christmas Carol resonated with me most and that’s the one story that will cause me to recommend it to all of the first responders I know.  It’s a great rendition of A Christmas Carol with an equally important message to impart.  Well done, Mr. Brown, well done!
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I have mixed feelings about this book. I liked the title story, A Firefighter Christmas Carol, which is a take on Dickens' classic. As a first responder myself who has lost patients, it is difficult to get past. Just like the protagonist, Elliot, I can remember the patient that really hurt the most. I have managed that grief but it stays with you. I appreciated that the author encourages people to discuss their concerns and feelings. We decompartmentalize as part of the job but shouldn't hang on to that grief and despair alone. 

The other stories are kind of a mixed bag. He has a rando serial killer who likes to hunt online trolls, a woman who is a "fixer" for dead people who don't want their secrets revealed and an angry father who goes after pedophiles when his daughter is taken at a carnival. The whole thing didn't really jive as a collection of stories and I absolutely loathe this new horror trend where the reader is left hanging to finish the story themselves. That's not scary, it is stupid. I don't want to go down the rabbit hole of darkness to guess how the story might end. 

The writing on the title story is good but some of the other metaphors and descriptions in here were on the weird side. I cannot fathom how air in the atmosphere can "drip with violence." 

I gave this three stars for the re-write on the Christmas Carol. The other stories detract from the poignancy of that one.
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A firefighter Christmas Carol and other stories by, Douglas R. Brown.

I do enjoy short horror stories and this is one of them. Many of the stories were thrilling, chilling and even sadness included. The first story will get you on a whole new level. 

I appreciate the author for sincerely putting about deeply personal issues such as depression, suicide, and PTSD, as I'm one of them that suffers from all three due to a personal experience that occurred in my life. By placing a note beforehand, expressing his love and compassion and how he still wants anyone around, meant a lot. 

Each story was creepy, especially The Janitor. As the stories move forward, you do get the chills, the fright, the horror along with many others. I had so much fun reading them. I had to pause here and there just to handle household stuff because it is hard to set down when you want to continue reading. Shoot, I even dreamt about one of the stories. LOL. 

Overall, the book is hugely fantastic and a must-have in anyone's horror collection. I am proud to even have read it and enjoyed the scares. If you are a horror fan such as I am, you definitely need to get this one. I highly recommend it! 🙂
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I've never read this author before but I'll definitely be looking out for him in the futre.

The author is also an experienced fire fighter and paramedic.  His short stories deal with PTSD and the stresses of first responders. The stories I feel have a super natural maybe horror theme. But all of them have a sense of realism about them. You should be aware they contain grief,  suicide, and some mental illness. But all are handled very well.

All the stories are different and gritty. They are most definitely thought provoking. Each story will affect everyone differently.  My favourite has to A Fire Fighters Christmas Carol. But I'm guessing everyone will have a favourite.

Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
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This is an exceptional book of short stories written by an author who is an experienced firefighter/paramedic.  He understands the emotional stress that these first responders encounter in their line of duty. He discusses the effects of PTSD, how to recognize it, and the necessity to get help.

  The stories can be classified as horror/supernatural on top of realistic situations and believable, well-developed characters. They involve medics and firefighters and others experiencing extreme stress. They contain grief, mental illness, violence, murder, and suicide along with ghostly and angelic visitations. These subjects could be triggering for some readers but should appeal to fans of horror and suspense. All are engrossing psychological suspense thrillers, powerfully presented, gritty, disturbing, and thought-provoking. The cover is beautiful and eye-catching.

  Readers will differ in their response to these 6 short stories. Here are my personal reactions:
 Firefighter Christmas Carol. 5 stars
 Janitor. 3
 Death Alarm. 5
 Catch Time. 4.5
  Skelwaller Lane. 4
  DOA. 3

 I received a copy of this book from NetGalley Co-op. Epertase Publishing in return for my honest review and thank them for the ARC.  My review will be posted on NetGalley, Goodreads, and Amazon. ca on Nov. 2nd.
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