ARC Review: HIGH FIRE by Eoin Colfer

I borrowed an ARC off a friend, which has not affected my opinion.

High fire
Genre: Fantasy
Age Range: Adult
Star Rating: 4 stars
Series: standalone

Synopsis:

high fire

In the days of yore, he flew the skies and scorched angry mobs—now he hides from swamp tour boats and rises only with the greatest reluctance from his Laz-Z-Boy recliner. Laying low in the bayou, this once-magnificent fire breather has been reduced to lighting Marlboros with nose sparks, swilling Absolut in a Flashdance T-shirt, and binging Netflix in a fishing shack. For centuries, he struck fear in hearts far and wide as Wyvern, Lord Highfire of the Highfire Eyrie—now he goes by Vern. However…he has survived, unlike the rest. He is the last of his kind, the last dragon. Still, no amount of vodka can drown the loneliness in his molten core. Vern’s glory days are long gone. Or are they?

A canny Cajun swamp rat, young Everett “Squib” Moreau does what he can to survive, trying not to break the heart of his saintly single mother. He’s finally decided to work for a shady smuggler—but on his first night, he witnesses his boss murdered by a crooked constable.

Regence Hooke is not just a dirty cop, he’s a despicable human being—who happens to want Squib’s momma in the worst way. When Hooke goes after his hidden witness with a grenade launcher, Squib finds himself airlifted from certain death by…a dragon?

The swamp can make strange bedfellows, and rather than be fried alive so the dragon can keep his secret, Squib strikes a deal with the scaly apex predator. He can act as his go-between (aka familiar)—fetch his vodka, keep him company, etc.—in exchange for protection from Hooke. Soon the three of them are careening headlong toward a combustible confrontation. There’s about to be a fiery reckoning, in which either dragons finally go extinct—or Vern’s glory days are back.

Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


Review:

HIGH FIRE is everything I want and expect from Eoin Colfer – an utterly bonkers, irreverent adventure full of insane heroes and despicable villains. It’s Artemis Fowl for grown ups, but swap your fairies for a vodka-martini slugging dragon and your teen genius for a grifter.

It is certainly NOT a book for kids – between the swearing and pretty graphic descriptions of ‘gator attacks (not to mention the rather brutal methods of the villain). However, it doesn’t lose any of his MG charm.

I devoured this, chortling all the way. The situations are preposterous, and that is why it’s so good. It is not a book that takes itself seriously, poking fun not only at what’s happening, but all the “serious” fantasy. Why not have a dragon in movie merch?

We swim (to avoid the all seeing eye of the CIA) from drugs deals gone wrong on crocodile surrounded to interrogations with a dragon attacked by crocs and then gun the boat throttle to a cat and mouse chase. It is superb pacing, woven together with masterfully written prose disguised with plenty of irony.

The internal logic is there, so nothing feels too odd for the version of our world depicted, but the our-world-logic gets discarded for being too dull. Instead we have ex-military with firepower against a cooking-oil powered dragon who’s scorching buildings and burying half-dragons in poo to rejuvenate. Squib has more heart and impulse than sense, so he ends up in the worse situations, faintly confused why he’s there.

All of Colfer’s trademark humour is present – wise-cracks, bizarre happenings and plenty of body humour. At the same time, there are some really powerful moments about friendship and motivation.


Read my reviews of other books by Eoin Colfer:

Middle Grade:

The Fowl-verse:

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