HighFire by Eoin Colfer

From the internationally bestselling author of the Artemis Fowl series: Eoin Colfer’s first adult fantasy novel is a hilarious, high-octane adventure about a vodka-drinking, Flashdance-loving dragon who’s been hiding out from the world – and potential torch-carrying mobs – in a Louisiana bayou . . . until his peaceful world’s turned upside down by a well-intentioned but wild Cajun tearaway and the crooked (and heavily armed) law officer who wants him dead.

Squib Moreau may be swamp-wild, but his intentions are (generally) good: he really wants to be a supportive son to his hard-working momma Elodie. But sometimes life gets in the way – like when Fake Daddy walked out on them leaving a ton of debt, or when crooked Constable Regence Hooke got to thinking pretty Elodie Moreau was just the gal for him…

An apprenticeship with the local moonshine runner, servicing the bayou, looks like the only way to pay off the family debts and maybe get Squib and his momma a place in town, far from Constable Hooke’s unwanted courtship and Fake Daddy’s reputation.

Unfortunately for Squib, Hooke has his own eye on that very same stretch of bayou – and neither of them have taken into account the fire-breathing dragon hiding out in the Louisiana swamp…

For Squib Moreau, Regence Hooke and Vern, aka Lord Highfire of Highfire Eyrie, life is never going to be the same again.

Release Date: 28th January 2020

Thanks to Milly at Jo Fletcher Books for the advanced reading copy.

In cinema we are currently amidst the Keanu-sance, wildly successful actor who has been seen in a number of high profile pictures of late. In fiction, are we seeing the renaissance of Eoin Colfer? With his return to children’s writing with The Fowl Twins, the Disney adaption of the wildly popular Artemis Fowl – coming May 2020 – and now HighFire – his first foray into adult fantasy.

If you are used to his writing style from his other works, this book merely is a much more mature version of what we have seen before. Within the first few pages, we are introduced to Vern, possibly the last dragon in the world, and his… less than sun-shining personality. Amongst this ramshackle cast are; Everett “Squib” Moreau, a 15 year old Cajun-something, with a penchant for petty crime; Elodie, Squib’s mum who works as a nurse; and Regence Hooke, a constable who is as crooked and corrupt as they come.

Be prepared for the changing point-of-views, it often changes between Squib, Vern and Hooke. With the plot at fiery as Vern’s dragon-fire, I was quickly sucked into the story and the blossoming friendship that exists between Vern and Squib. Colfer’s style of writing makes you quickly and all consuming hate Hooke with a passion and as the book continues you start to root for his demise, be it by dragon-fire or any other way. The glimpses of both Vern’s and Hooke’s past create a parallel between them, both have these pasts full of violence but both have evolved differently through their lives. It is nice to see that Squib is a teenager who isn’t always stuck in school, he also works to help support his mother who – by all accounts is “a saint”.

The bayou setting is refreshing. It is adequately described to create an image for the reader but retains enough ambiguity to enhance the story. It is a plot not entirely free of cliches but the concept is suitably refreshing. Although billed as an adult fantasy, I personally feel that the writing wasn’t that exceptionally aimed at an adult audience, as apart from the cursing throughout the themes (maybe a part from drinking) weren’t overly complicated. I do accept that this is probably enough to put it in this higher age bracket from a marketing perspective.

In all likely-hood, this is a novel which will primarily resonate better with a male audience. Purely because the style of writing and the crude-yet-lovable Vern is simply, a bloke. As such, a female audience maybe unable to connect with Vern – the lasts words from Vern are “Balls out” and that probably sums up his character to-a-T. That is by no means to say that I didn’t enjoy it, I really did – but it is important to note that the tone of the book may alienate those who are either unprepared or those who find this style of fantasy not for them.

I’ve already recommended this book to numerous friends who I know will adore the humour and hi-jinks in this novel. After all, there is just something about a vodka drinking, Netflix watching dragon that simply calls out to a modern audience.

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