When Rachel marries dark, handsome David, everything seems to fall into place. Swept from single life in London to the beautiful Carnhallow House in Cornwall, she gains wealth, love, and an affectionate stepson, Jamie.
But then Jamie’s behaviour changes, and Rachel’s perfect life begins to unravel. He makes disturbing predictions, claiming to be haunted by the spectre of his late mother – David’s previous wife. Is this Jamie’s way of punishing Rachel, or is he far more traumatized than she thought?
As Rachel starts digging into the past, she begins to grow suspicious of her husband. Why is he so reluctant to discuss Jamie’s outbursts? And what exactly happened to cause his ex-wife’s untimely death, less than two years ago? As summer slips away and December looms, Rachel begins to fear there might be truth in Jamie’s words:
‘You will be dead by Christmas.’
I’ll start by saying that I’ve heard a lot about S. K. Tremayne‘s first book, The Ice Twins, but haven’t yet read it, so I can’t compare them, like other reviews may do. Anyway, when I had the chance to review The Fire Child, I (of course!) jumped at it! From what I gather, they’re not really comparable anyway – equally great but very different.
I have to say that this is one of the most atmospheric novels I’ve read in a long time. The author manages to create such an eerie, spooky feel without being too ‘obvious’; the house itself is full of history and the whole inclusion of the Cornish miners’ awful time down the mines is both enthralling and horrifying (I didn’t really know anything about this before reading it but it has made me want to find out more). You don’t actually hear from the miners in this novel, just hear some of their accounts second-hand, so it keeps what they must have experienced very abstract but chilling, too, as it’s hard to even imagine how it must have been to work in those conditions – especially with all those accidents. This was really powerful by it wasn’t even the main storyline – more of a sideline that adds extra tension to the narrative.
The novel leaves you unsure at times of who is really telling the truth, and who is telling some fibs – or complete, outright lies – and I love novels that do this. I questioned my own judgement plenty of times! The characters are brilliantly crafted, the story is a little slower at times but that’s all the better to gradually build up and ramp up the tension – and there’s plenty of confusion for the main character Rachel, young Jamie… and me as the reader – but in a good way!
I won’t say much more as I don’t want to give much away but I’d definitely recommend this as an atmospheric, chilling read that leaves you questioning everything and everyone in its pages – the kind of novel I love!