Have you ever wanted to see an unconventional Christmas story? One that’s so distinctly Christmas, and yet different from most of the cheery, simple stories that come around every December?
One of my favourite things to do as a writer is to deviate from the audience’s expectations. I look at a trope or a genre and I ask myself how I can turn it on its head and make it unexpected. Of course, it stands to reason that I love stories that do the same thing.
Stories like The Chimes of Midnight.
Seeing as it’s Christmas week, I want to bring you a festive review/recommendation. I can’t claim to have read many Christmas stories, and most of the ones that I have read/watched/listened to are so basic that they blend together with all of the other ones. There are a few exceptions, of course. The original A Christmas Carol by Dickens simply can’t be beaten, and my two absolute favourite adaptations are The Muppet’s Christmas Carol and the Doctor Who special A Christmas Carol. The Agatha Christie book Hercule Poirot’s Christmas is one of her most memorable mysteries.
But The Chimes of Midnight is something distinctly special. It is a Doctor Who story from Big Finish, but for all of you who may not be Whovians, don’t stop reading just yet! One of the wonderful things about this story is that while it does contain threads of an overarching plot, overall, it’s a great standalone story and one that has gotten many, many people started on their journey through the Big Finish audios.
The reason why? It’s a solid, unique Christmas story that keeps you guessing at every turn. As the rather ominous-sounding title might suggest, The Chimes of Midnight relies heavily on mystery and horror while maintaining a holiday atmosphere and injecting the elements of sci-fi and fantasy that are so key to Doctor Who.
Yes. A scary Christmas story.
It’s not a new concept, but it’s one that’s not often pulled off well. You either get so much horror that it’s not Christmassy, or so much Christmas that it’s not scary. But Chimes strikes the perfect balance by sending a shiver up your spine with chilling imagery and never-ending mystery while immersing you in the world of servants preparing an old Edwardian mansion for Christmas. Just check out the synopsis:
“‘Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house not a creature was stirring…
But something must be stirring. Something hidden in the shadows. Something which kills the servants of an old Edwardian mansion in the most brutal and macabre manner possible. Exactly on the chiming of the hour, every hour, as the grandfather clock ticks on towards midnight.
Trapped and afraid, the Doctor and Charley are forced to play detective to murders with no motive, where the victims don’t stay dead. Time is running out.
And time itself might well be the killer…“
Not only is the story just good, but the characters (and the actors who play them) are incredible. Even the minor characters come alive. And as always, Big Finish shines when it comes to using effects to bring you into the world of the story.
This story alone has brought countless fans (and people who weren’t fans before) into the Big Finish fold. Though The Chimes of Midnight isn’t a TV episode, it’s one of the most well-loved stories in the Doctor Who fandom. It’s unique, it’s scary, it’s hopeful, and there are many twists and turns to take you by surprise.
So if you’re looking for a new kind of Christmas story this year, check out The Chimes of Midnight. While you can buy it for $1.50 right now on the Big Finish website, you can also listen to it for free on Spotify! Whether you’re a Who fan or not, this story has something for all sci-fi/fantasy-lovers to enjoy.
And if you hear Whovians going on about plum pudding… Well, you’ll just have to see why.