Title: The Fireman

Author: Joe Hill

Publisher: Gollancz

Published: 17 May 2016

RRP: £13.99


Apocalyptic fiction is really hot right now and is set to get even hotter with Joe Hill’s new novel, The Fireman (see what I did there?…I’ll get my coat). Moving swiftly on, here’s the pitch in brief:

Set in a world overtaken by an incurable runaway pathogen that causes death by spontaneous combustion, the story follows school nurse Harper, 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.

According to the blurb, it has “the epic scope of The Passage and the emotional impact of The Road, The Fireman is a gripping end-of-the-world thriller.”

The bar is set pretty high with praise like that, but having read the sampler which Gollancz were kind enough to send over, I suspect the hype is justified.

Without giving too much away, Hill has come up with a whole new and frankly terrifying way to destroy the world; a fungus which grows on the skin, nicknamed “dragonscale” which eventually causes the victim to spontaneously combust. There is no cure and people are dying before it can be researched and controlled. The world is quite literally going to hell. When Harper is infected, she whiles away her last days making a book she calls the Portable Mother for the baby she hopes to have before she dies, hanging on to her sanity and trying to keep her increasingly aggressive husband calm. She doesn’t think much about the mysterious fireman she once saw at the hospital where she worked, until one day he turns up out of the blue to help her. Harper’s an appealing heroine with a quiet inner strength; the kind of woman who is easily underestimated, until circumstances bring out her fierce side, and absolutely the kind you will want to follow and root for at the end of the world.

I am already a big fan of Hill’s, and if you haven’t yet read Heart Shaped Box, Horns or N0S4R2 then while you’re waiting for The Fireman you should check them out right now. Especially N0S4R2. It’s festive, honest!

In the meantime, here’s the trailer:

Roll on 2016!

GS Blogger: Michaela Gray (@bookiesnacksize)

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