Thanks to a NetGalley and Grand Central Publishing for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: March 28th, 2017
Synopsis: THE PERFECT HUSBAND. THE PERFECT STEPSON. THE PERFECT LIE.
When Rachel marries dark, handsome David, everything seems to fall into place. Swept from single life in London to the beautiful Carnhallow House in Cornwall, she gains wealth, love, and an affectionate stepson, Jamie.
But then Jamie’s behavior changes, and Rachel’s perfect life begins to unravel. He makes disturbing predictions, claiming to be haunted by the specter of his late mother–David’s previous wife. Is this Jamie’s way of punishing Rachel, or is he far more traumatized than she thought?
As Rachel starts digging into the past, she begins to grow suspicious of her husband. Why is he so reluctant to discuss Jamie’s outbursts? And what exactly happened to cause his ex-wife’s untimely death, less than two years ago? As summer slips away and December looms Rachel begins to fear there might be truth in Jamie’s words:
“You will be dead by Christmas.”
The Fire Child is creepy and disturbing in an entirely good way, and for the majority of the book I had no clue what was happening or who was telling the truth. The setting of Cornwall was a brilliant choice on the part of the author’s as it lent a haunting and gothic atmosphere to this modern day story. Blended into the story is some tragic history about mining in Cornwall with photographs added in occasionally of some of the mines and workers. Against this backdrop is the ancient and isolated Carnhallow House, which has been in David’s family for centuries. While the story starts out happily enough with Rachel and David enjoying their newlywed life and making the most of the summer, it’s not long before things start going downhill. At the center of it all is the mystery surrounding the death of David’s first wife. Jamie swears to Rachel that he’s been seeing his mother. And if that isn’t creepy enough, he starts making predictions about Rachel which eerily come true. As Rachel becomes determined to not only discover the truth of what happened eighteen months ago, but also to protect Jamie, she and David become more and more alienated, with neither one trusting the other. And this brings me to why this wasn’t quite a perfect read for me. The lack of communication between Rachel, David, and Jamie borders on the unbelievable at times. David is a lawyer in London who only gets home on the weekends, yet despite that there are plenty of opportunities for him to find out what’s going on but instead he assumes things, particularly about Rachel. Because of this he makes matters much worse for all of them. Rachel and Jamie are both unreliable characters, yet I still became emotionally invested in the two of them. Is Rachel going crazy or is there something to her fears and what she’s seeing and hearing? And is Jamie just a traumatized eight-year-old, trying to deal with the death of his mother, or is the something more sinister behind his actions? Almost the entire time I was reading this I didn’t know if this was going to turn out to be a paranormal ghost story which made things even more intriguing. The only other issue I had concerns a huge twist near the end which struck me as a bit too melodramatic and unrealistic. The conclusion itself though, ties everything up and left me pretty well satisfied. Somewhat reminiscent of classic gothics like Rebecca, by Daphne du Maurier, The Fire Child is a slow burner filled with plenty of disquieting and menacing scenes to keep you up at night.