Title: The Fireman
Author: Joe Hill
Release Date: 7th June 2016
Source: Publisher ARC
With the epic scope of The Passage and the emotional impact of The Road, The Fireman is the gripping story of one woman’s fight for survival at the end of the world.
Nobody knew where the virus came from.
FOX News said it had been set loose by ISIS, using spores that had been invented by the Russians in the 1980s.
MSNBC said sources indicated it might've been created by engineers at Halliburton and stolen by culty Christian types fixated on the Book of Revelation.
CNN reported both sides.
While every TV station debated the cause, the world burnt.
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.
Set in a world overtaken by an incurable pathogen, the story follows school nurse Harper Grayson, who is determined to live long enough to deliver her baby. But when all it takes is a spark to start a deadly blaze, she’s going to need some help from the mysterious fireman.
You know that feeling when you pick up a book and after a couple of pages you know you are not going to get much sleep, you know straight away that the story is going to take over every waking moment - The Fireman did that to me, it just blew me away.
The world is burning, people are bursting in to flame, spontaneously combusting left, right and centre and in the case of school nurse Harper, right in front of a school full of young, scared kids.
A virus is sweeping across the States, there is no cure, the unlucky victims come out in a dragon scale rash, almost beautiful but it is also the mark of impending death. Harper has been working in the local hospital since the school closed and every day she is seeing people burst in to flames, one day it doesn't end very well.
She goes home to her husband Jakob and together they spend what could be their final days together, they make the most of that time but to her horror Harper discovers the dragon scale on her body, her loving husband reacts in a way that she wasn't expecting. He freaks out, he becomes a total arse blaming her for bringing it in to the home and even though he has no sign of the virus, infecting him. The worst though is that they have found out they are going to be parents, do they bring a defenceless baby in to this world?
Jakob can't stand to be near Harper, they have gone from loved up to f***ed up in a matter of days, he leaves, she doesn't stop him.
Now as this is all going on, the world is burning and people are taking matters in to their own hands, cremation crews are starting up, disposing of the infected and not nicely. Unfortunately for Harper, Jakob has gone a little batshit crazy and promptly returns to try and dispose of Harper by himself.
This is when the story introduces a lot more characters, characters that you will root for till the very end along with Harper because of course Jakob fails to kill his wife and his unborn child, Harper escapes and falls in to the nets of the Fireman who takes her to a place of safety.
She ends up at Camp Wyndham.
Camp Wyndham is home to loads of other infected people of all ages. They are thriving, their dragonscale is under control, they are in hiding but they are all loving life and they welcome Harper in to their flock.
So of course questions need to be asked, most importantly how are they not bursting in to flame? How are they still alive?
Harper meets an old patient at the camp, a brother and sister, their aunt and grandfather to mention just a few but the one person who makes the most impact is the mysterious fireman, who not only has the virus, he can conjure fire at the drop of a hat and he is not the only one, the virus is not killing him, it has given him an immense power to wield and with cremation crews sniffing near the camp, that power is going to come in handy.
This is a big ass book, like 700 odd pages so I don't want to give you any spoilers but to give a rough gist, things at the camp start to unravel, Harper and the Fireman get to know one another and the world continues to burn but a message heard on a radio could give them hope.
This is a story of survival but unlike some books the dialogue is realistic, the kids are sulky, the adults are bitchy. The panic, the emotion felt from the characters resonates from the pages. It is genuinely scary in parts and you will feel that fear and that fear will keep you gripped till the last word.
This book is just incredible, I loved it, it pulled me in from start to finish and to be honest I could probably have read another 700 pages of this story, I hope you meet the Fireman soon.
Thanks to Gollancz for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review