THE FIRE CHILD by S.K. Tremayne
Grand Central; On sale 3/28/18
CBTB Rating: 2.5/5
The Verdict: a mixed bag - a slow start that leads to a creepy ending
After reading (and loving) S.K. Tremayne’s THE ICE TWINS a couple years ago, I was incredibly excited to dip into an advance copy of Tremayne’s forthcoming psychological thriller, THE FIRE CHILD. Unfortunately, this book didn’t live up to my expectations for it. My feelings on this book are quite mixed: the majority of the book is fairly “fluffy,” not too suspenseful or creepy. The last 100 pages of the book, however, finally gave me the tension and suspense I had hoped for throughout. All in all, if you’re curious about this book, I’d recommend picking it up from the library rather than spending your money on it!
THE FIRE CHILD is a domestic thriller set against the backdrop of a remote estate in Cornwall. Rachel has just married David, a handsome, wealthy heir to a vast fortune. She’s dropped everything - her whole life in London - to move to Cornwall and become stepmom to his young son, Jamie. Rachel’s life in Cornwall should be picture perfect: she’s gained an affectionate family, and a gorgeous home - Carnhallow House. But Carnhallow House has secrets. Just a couple years prior, David’s first wife died in a tragic accident: she fell down one of the many mine shafts that exist on the property of Carnhallow. As Rachel settles into her new life, Jamie’s behavior begins to change: he makes disturbing predictions about Rachel, and raises serious questions about what really happened to David’s first wife. As Rachel begins digging into the past of her new home, she grows suspicious of her husband, and the picture-perfect life she thought she inherited starts to look more like a nightmare…
The premise of this book has all the right ingredients for a domestic thriller: an atmospheric setting (a gorgeous estate in a remote location, right by the ocean) and chilling family secrets involving exactly how David’s family made their money. (Hint: it involves those mines I previously mentioned.) Unfortunately, this book did fall flat for me in a few ways. More than anything else, I wanted more from this book: more tension, more suspense, more character development. The majority of this book is “fluffy” - it lacks any real drive. It’s definitely a fast read, but it’s just not that suspenseful. It doesn’t really begin to feel like a psychological thriller until perhaps the last 100 to 150 pages; at that point, I did find it a chilling and engaging story! But it took quite a long time for the story to get there.
It’s also worth noting that the beginning of the book is a bit muddled: I found the writing convoluted and cheesy, especially within the first few chapters. I would have liked for the writing to be streamlined: less “fluff,” less flowery language; more focus on building tension and providing hints at the disturbances and evils that do make themselves known at the end of the book. The writing improves as the story goes on, but I did nearly set the book down at a few points within the first few chapters.
On the positive side: I did really enjoy this book’s ending. I know there have been a lot of mixed reviews about it, but I found it totally entertaining. The ending of the book finally ratcheted up the tension, and created an atmosphere of madness that kept me engaged. Without spoiling anything, by the end of the book one of the characters has truly lost touch with reality, and I loved how the author uses frantic, disjointed language to reflect that change. Like I mentioned before, I just wanted more of this same suspense throughout the book. One unique feature of this book, like THE ICE TWINS before it, is that it includes black and white photos throughout that relate to the story - I loved this touch! The images are very creepy, and absolutely add to the atmosphere of the story.
THE FIRE CHILD was a mixed bag for me. I’d be hesitant to recommend it, unless the reader knows exactly what he or she is getting into. Readers will enjoy its engaging, taught ending, but will find the majority of the book lacking in any driving force or tension. If you’re like me, and are curious to read this one because of how much you enjoyed THE ICE TWINS, it might be worth grabbing a copy from your local library when it releases on March 28th! However, I’d say this is not a must-read.
I received an advance copy of THE FIRE CHILD from the publisher in exchange for an honest review; all opinions my own.
THE FIRE CHILD by S.K. Tremayne
On sale 3/28/17; Grand Central Publishing
Paperback original; 400 pages
Amazon link here