Monday, July 17, 2017

Review: The Fire Child by S.K. Tremayne

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Pub. Date: March 28th, 2017
Pages: 400

Genres: Mystery/Psychological Thriller/Suspense



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."

What Did I Think About the Story?

I really enjoyed S.K. Tremayne's debut novel, The Ice Twins, when I read it a few years ago and was so excited when the lovely Tiffany Sanchez from Grand Central Publishing reached out to me to see if I was interested in receiving a copy of this newest novel for review. Yes please!! From the synopsis I just knew I was going to be in for another really creepy treat. And, having finished it, I'm happy to say I was correct! The Fire Child once again presents a sinister setting by the turbulent sea and creates an atmosphere of confusion and dread that sends chills down your spine.

One of the best parts of the novel is the fact that each chapter opens up with a countdown to Christmas day. This is wonderful for building up the feeling of impending dread and urgency and helped the story from dragging towards the beginning/middle as the author sought to properly develop the characters' backstories. The story is quite long at 400 pages and there are a few points along the way that allowed the overall sense of impending doom to drop away, but overall this countdown to possible death really kept me turning the pages to see if Rachel's life was truly in danger.

The characters are pretty perfect as far as suspenseful mysteries go as well. They are all so very damaged, each and every one of them, and the full extent of that damage and the lies they tell to hide their secrets slowly unfurls as the story progresses, picking up speed right towards the end. I absolutely loved this as it kept me from guessing the outcome. There's some mental illness involved, lots of bold-faced lying, and some pretty heavy subterfuge going on so that you're never quite sure if what you are reading is really what the characters are experiencing, or if what they are saying is true or not, at least until the final shoe drops and you're able to finally see how all the pieces fall into place. 

Something else I love is the fact that Tremayne has an incredible ability to showcase beautiful yet terrifying landscapes and to make these inanimate, natural elements take on a life of their own and feel almost alive. In this novel our ramshackle and dangerous buildings are long abandoned iron mines and tunnels (as opposed to a dilapidated cottage as in The Ice Twins) and this combined with the thick forest surrounding the mansion and the vicious sea surrounding that leads to an overall feeling of isolation and suffocation. The mansion itself is amazingly detailed and it was so much fun going along with Rachel as she explored what had once been the servants areas and the old monastery ruins that the house is built around and on top of. The entire setting feels haunted, with creaks, whispers (was it the wind?), and dark shadows abounding, and this serves to push already disturbed people over the edge into hysteria. I, for one, had the best time watching that descent!

The Fire Child is wonderful, atmospheric suspense and I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good gothic mystery. While there was some lagging in the middle and I didn't feel it needed to be quite as long as it was, overall it was a delightful way to spend the hours and I am still a firm fan of Tremayne's writing.  

What Did I Think About the Cover?

I think it fits the story perfectly! It evokes the stormy, sinister feeling that hangs over the whole narrative and is the exact picture I have in my head of the location and youngest character (tossing, freezing seaside with Jamie running off to the dangerous mines on the property). I love it!

My Rating: 4.0/5.0

Thank you to Tiffany Sanchez and Grand Central Publishing for a free copy of The Fire Child in exchange for an honest review! Continue below for more information about the author and where you can purchase a copy.

Praise for The Fire Child

"Tremayne...does a terrific job of building suspense until events reach their climax in the midst of a violent storm." - Library Journal       

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About the Author   

S. K. Tremayne is a bestselling novelist and award-winning travel writer, and a regular contributor to newspapers and magazines around the world. Tremayne has two daughters, and lives in London.

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