Thank you Edelweiss and William Morrow for providing an e-Arc in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: May 17th, 2016
Synopsis: No one knows exactly when it bagan or where it originated. A terrifying new plague is spreading like wildfire across the country, striking cities one by one: Boston, Detroit, Seattle. The doctors call it Draco Incendia Trychophyton. To everyone else it’s Dragonscale, a highly contagious, deadly spore that marks its hosts with beautiful black and gold marks across their bodies–before causing them to burst into flames. Millions are infected; blazes erupt everywhere. There is no antidote. No one is safe.
Harper Grayson, a compassionate, dedicated nurse as pragmatic as Mary Poppins, treated hundreds of infected patients before her hospital burned to the ground. Now she’s discovered the telltale gold-flecked marks on her skin. When the outbreak first began, she and her husband, Jakob, had made a pact: they would take matters into their own hands if they became infected. To Jakob’s dismay, Harper wants to live–at least until the fetus she is carrying comes to term. At the hospital, she witnessed infected mothers give birth to healthy babies and believes hers will be fine too…if she can live long enough to deliver the child.
Convinced his do-gooding wife has made him sick, Jakob becomes unhinged, and eventually abandons her as their placid New England community collapses in terror. The chaos gives rise to ruthless Cremation Squads–armed, self-appointed posses roaming the streets and woods to exterminate those who they believe carry the spore. But Harper isn’t as alone as she fears: a mysterious and compelling stranger she briefly met at the hospital, a man in a dirty yellow fire fighter’s jacket, carrying a hooked iron bar, straddles the abyss between insanity and death. Known as The Fireman, he strolls the ruins of New Hampshire, a madman afflicted with Dragonscale who has learned to control the fire within himself, using it as a shield to protect the hunted…and as a weapon to avenge the wronged.
In the desperate season to come, as the world burns out of control, Harper must learn The Fireman’s secrets before her life–and that of her unborn child–goes up in smoke.
I’ve been practically foaming at the mouth since I heard about The Fireman last year. Being the Stephen King fan that I am, it’s little wonder that I’d also become a devotee of his son who has definitely inherited his dad’s writing prowess. When I requested this from Edelweiss I honestly didn’t think I had a chance of getting my hands on a e-Arc. If I had children I think I would have given up my first born for a coveted approval. I was even eyeing my neighbor’s oldest kid as a possible offering. Thankfully I was approved and it never came to that.
After I calmed down and stopped screaming I immediately stopped reading my other three books and focused solely on this. I actually finished it over a week ago, but it’s taken me this long to write a coherent review. When I first read the synopsis I was picturing something like this in regards to John Rookwood, aka The Fireman:
He’s actually much more like Constantine, right down to the British accent.
And like Constantine, John is a complicated man. He’s not perfect by any means, but he’s one of the most interesting characters I’ve read about in quite awhile.
And then there’s Harper. I’m going to be honest and say her Mary Poppins obsession may get on some readers nerves, but I thought it added even more charm to an already likable character. Harper is a woman who has a strong moral compass. She doesn’t wear religion on her sleeve like some others in the book do, but she’s courageous, loyal, compassionate and does her best to protect others when she can. The relationship that develops between her and John does so slowly over the course of the novel. While it plays a part in what’s going on, the main focus of the story is the Dragonscale disease and how people react to it. Joe Hill, as in his previous books, does a masterful job of taking ordinary people and climbing into their heads to expose the dark layers that lie within. While you have heroes like Harper, John, and their friends, and villains like Jakob and his twisted buddies on the Cremation Squad, there’s also perfectly ordinary people that any one of us can relate to. Some choose the right path, no matter how difficult it might be, but others struggle, and still more find the darkness within them taking over and truly making them monsters. It goes without saying that the world building is incredible, and the story never drags which is pretty incredible for an almost 800 page book. I finished it in three days which is a testimony to how captivating the story is. At its heart The Fireman is an epic tale of love and redemption amidst unimaginable horror and in my opinion is Joe Hill’s best novel yet. While we’re not quite through half of 2016, the last few months have already been filled with fantastic books, but this is definitely going to the top of my list of favorite books for this year. So, do I recommend this? HELL YEAH!
If you’re already a fan of Joe Hills, The Fireman will make you an even more passionate member of his fandom. If you’re new to his writing and like horror and apocalyptic thrillers I beg you to pick this up. I guarantee you won’t be sorry!