First off, they say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover and Fire Season is a really good example of why. There are no rights and wrongs to creating a book cover, but there is something a little dour about the front of Fire Season that could put off browsers of shelves and webpages alike.
So that is the down side out of the way, from here on it is pretty much all good.
Fire Season is a first look at the small town of Brooke’s Vale, a community the likes of which have featured in some of the greatest works of fiction, where living has been rather kind when it comes to the subject of the book – forest fires. For many years, Brooke’s Vale has escaped unscathed while other similar areas have constantly battled to survive. The all comes to an end during the three day period Fire Season’s story is told over.
The heart of this story lies in the struggle of the townsfolk, including airstrip owner and flying club leader Matt, and transport pilot Jim, a hero among many who takes on the raging fires that threaten the town. Whatever the subject, novels like Fire Season rely on the workings of the community. Stephen King has often used the “town in peril” card to great effect, and some parts of this novel read like his best Castle Rock novels. The build up over the first hundred or so pages is slow, introducing characters, displaying their likes and dislikes, building the impending threat to these characters and their surroundings.
Once the action is set in motion, then the book virtually reads itself, making the small trek there all the more worthwhile. The events of Day Two and Three flow very cinematically, descriptions creating very vivid images as the fight to survive takes centre stage, and as you read you can imagine this playing out on the big screen.
By the time the epilogue comes around, and we move two months on from the climax of the main story, it is a nice chance to see how these people we have followed of the last few hundred pages are coping with the aftermath. There are too many novels so eager to get the action over and end that they don’t take a short moment to close off the final threads of the story, giving the reader a sense that these people are not merely characters in a work of fiction, but continue on with their lives beyond. How those lives may pan out remains a mystery, but there is enough here to show that even after the worst of times, life does go on.
In the afterword, the author notes that a lot of research including his visit to see one of the only Shackleton planes in existence, and it is clear throughout the book that a lot of effort has gone into making sure that the facts within the fiction are authentic for those with knowledge of such things. My only experience with airplanes is to get on board one to go on holiday, so I would not know if any of the more specific details are correct or not. That doesn’t mean the effort is any less appreciated when reading the book.
For anyone looking for a good old fashioned adventure thriller could do a lot worse than Fire Season. The human heart needed to make any story of peril work is written well, there are no real duff characters of note and the conversations and confrontations between the townsfolk is always believable and manages to avoid the usual clichés that can quite easily slip into this kind of story.
Well written, engaging and worth a read, I would happily recommend Fire Season to others and look forward to Days At Brooke’s Vale, a short story collection that acts as a prequel of sorts and will hopefully continue in the vein of rich character developments shown in the novel. Recommended by Anthony Lund, Allbooks Review www.allbookreviews.com
Title – Fire Season
Author – V H Folland
Publisher – Ragged Angel Ltd
ISBN : 978-0-9541227-7-5
For more info: http://www.fireseason.co.uk