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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

The Gift: A Christmas Thriller novelette

A Christmas Novella


Narrator: Alyson Krawchuk

Dreamscape Select

Audio: 11/07/2023

Publisher: Hollywood Upstairs Press

Publication Date: 12/04/2022

Format: audio/e-book

My Rating: 5 Stars

It’s Christmas Eve and Stella Hansen is broke.

She is so broke that despite working two jobs, she can’t even afford a present for her husband on their first Christmas as man and wife. But then a mysterious storekeeper at a pawn shop offers Stella an intriguing trade.

Stella wants more than anything to buy her husband the Christmas gift of his dreams. But will it come at a terrible price?

My Review

Get into the festive spirit with a witty and wicked Christmas romcom thriller with a murderous twist—THE GIFT: A Christmas Thriller Novella. Who better than Freida McFadden to spin a delicious domestic suspense novella?

I loved the audiobook narrated by Alyson Krawchuk for a spine-chilling performance!

It is Christmas Eve, and Stella works at a diner, Stevie's, in the Bronx. She has worked double shifts and is ready to go home.

She works two jobs (teacher and waitress) to make ends meet. Her law student husband, Justin, left his job to concentrate on his studies. She is the breadwinner. They have tons of student loans and no money for Christmas gifts.

This is their first Christmas as a married couple, and Stella wants it to be special and memorable. Even though they have no money and barely keep the heat on and rent paid. Justin texted to say he has something special for her, and they would open at midnight when she gets home.

She purchased other gifts for her family at the dollar store, but she wanted something special for Justin, and now the time has run out.

It is around 11 pm at the diner on Christmas Eve, cold and snowy. It is time to close when she notices this creepy old lady in a booth. No one has waited on her, and she looks dead.

The old lady overheard Stella and a co-worker's conversation about wanting a gift for her husband. She hands her a business card and says to come by the shop, Helga's Attic. She will find a present for her hubby.

Stella tells her she has no money, but Helga says they can work out a trade, perhaps.

BTW: Stella has beautiful long blonde hair, and her best feature.

It is snowing outside, and Stella walks to the shop on her way home, which is approaching midnight. The shop is creepy, and the necklace from her aunt and uncle she was going to trade for a nice silver chain to go with Justin's pocket watch turns out to be worthless.

Helga says there is one thing she can sacrifice for her husband for this special gift.

Stella is unsure about this but then thinks Justin will appreciate the huge sacrifice she has made for him. It can be something they can remember years later. This is very personal.

However, after the trade is made with the devil and she arrives home filled with anticipation knowing Justin will love the gift and excitement of what he got her.

However, things turn out differently than she planned. A nightmare! Justin did not have the gift she expected, and his reaction to her gift was not what Stella had planned. The night turns DEADLY.

After Christmas, Stella goes back to Helga with something else to trade. Helga realizes then she has made a big mistake. You must read to get all the layered juicy details. The twist at the end is so good!

If all you want for Christmas is a little suspense, you got it. With homemade cookies in the oven and hot chocolate in your mug, plenty goes on beneath the surface in this twisty, comic, short Christmas mystery novella audiobook.

If you love cozy holiday dark stories, you can be assured Frieda will make your Christmas an entertaining one!

Thanks to Dreamscape Select and NetGalley for an advanced listening audio copy!

@JudithDCollins | #JDCMustReadBooks

My Rating: 5 Stars 🎁

Pub Date: Dec 4, 2022

Audio: Nov 7, 2023

About the Author

New York Times, #1 Amazon, USA TODAY, Wall Street Journal, and Publisher's Weekly bestselling author Freida McFadden is a practicing physician specializing in brain injury who has penned multiple bestselling psychological thrillers and medical humor novels. Freida’s work has been selected as one of Amazon Editors’ best books of the year and she is the winner of the International Thriller Writers Award for best paperback. Her novels have been translated into over 30 languages.

​ Freida lives with her family and black cat in a centuries-old three-story home overlooking the ocean, with staircases that creak and moan with each step, and nobody could hear you if you scream. Unless you scream really loudly, maybe. WEBSITE







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