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I'm looking for the short story probably entitled "The Cinder Children" from a collection of horror fiction that may have contained some Richard Matheson stories or been a tribute to Matheson. I read a copy of the collection around 2002 and promptly lost the book as I moved out of state.

The story featured a guest in a house who is admonished to shut his room's fireplace flue before he goes to bed. The house is haunted by children who were burnt to death in the fireplace, and he fails to heed the warning and is damned to live in a sooty cinder hell.

Anyone else remember this one? Thanks in advance.

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2 Answers 2

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ISFDB turned up a possibility:

"Cinder Child" by Stuart Palmer, found in Gothic Ghosts, published 1997

Thomas, the nephew of the estate's master, is to work there. He finds that all of the fireplaces have shutters that can be latched, and hears tapping in them at night. The next day, he watches his fire burn out, and sees the figure of a child begin to arise from the ashes before the housekeeper rushes in, closes and latches the shutters on the fireplace, and warns him, "Always shutter a dead fire beneath this roof." He learns that the children in the fireplace are the children of a witch in town that his uncle had slept with before marrying someone else. When he would not yield land and wealth to them, only offering to support them, they killed his wife and daughter. He tricked them into an outhouse and set it on fire, killing them, but they live on in the fireplace when a fire dies.

As you remember, the nephew sets them free whereupon they kill his uncle and the cleaning woman who'd warned him before imprisoning him within the fireplace, from which he can see them taking over the house and their lives.

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  • @FuzzyBoots I assume you are the author of that very nice summary? Oct 26, 2021 at 1:46
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    Yes. I couldn't find a summary online, so I read the story and summarized it. :)
    – FuzzyBoots
    Oct 26, 2021 at 2:36
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This sounds a bit like Monkshood Manor by LP Hartley. It's about a man who has a morbid fear of fire and he roams around the house at night, checking all the fireplaces to make sure that they're all closed and the fires are all extinguished.

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