I have a tendency, whether a book is given to me by a publisher (as in the case with The Fire Child, by HarperCollins UK) or whether it's one I buy or borrow from the library, to just dive in, heedless of the author.
I mean, of course sometimes I'm exceedingly familiar with the author already or, even if I've never before read them, I do typically have a passing knowledge of their general sort of work and backlist. But sometimes I know nothing at all, particularly in the case of debut authors, and typically I prefer that ignorance. Sometimes reading the reviews of others, or hearing hints in the bookish world of what I'm getting myself into can colour my reading and response. It's typically after I've read the book, if I'm curious, that I look about for information about the author.
When I read The Ice Twins sixteen months ago, the only thing I - and most readers - knew about the author was that the name was a pseudonym, and that of an already established writer. We know, now, who that writer is (I haven't read anything else by them; I suspect much of their following is UK-based), and you can, too, if you click on the author's linked name above.
While reading The Ice Twins, I was, in fact, inclined to believe that the writer was a woman. And I still knew nothing for certain when I read The Fire Child... until I read a particular sex scene in the novel; that was when I felt this male writer showed his hand.
Yeah, so, don't get me wrong. I am definitely not one who feels like male writers can never authentically portray a female character (or vice-versa), and on the whole, I am certainly in agreement that Tremayne does quite well with his female protagonists. But I'm telling you, I read just those couple of lines in that particular scene, and I knew with certainty that a woman didn't write those lines. I immediately googled Tremayne and confirmed my suspicion.
But apart from those telling couple of lines? Tremayne works the same sort of magic with The Fire Child as he did with Twins. I was angry every moment I wasn't reading the book, anxious to know what was going on. I felt addicted to the story, and both anxious and pleased with the (once again) included photographs.
Tremayne is excellent is setting the scene, at instilling a claustrophobic, sharp world that is at once hellish and lovely.
"'There was a square of light on the flagstones of the Old Hall, this morning, when I came downstairs, and I found a young fox, standing in the middle, trembling, in the light from the leaded windows. I would have once told Jamie.'"
"Topping the hill, the north coast comes into a view: the distant tumult of the Atlantic. There are no ships today. But the waves plough on, silently and very fast, As if they have some grim but important job to do, further up the coast, perhaps someone they have to drown off Port Isaac."
I felt a bit of repetition, throughout the novel, though I'm always pitiful at determining when repetition is intentional, used as a literary device, or when it's an example of the author subconsciously recycling a favourite image or phrase. Also, there were a lot of elements and it felt like at least a couple of them were abandoned along the way and never explained. Again, I wasn't sure how much of this was intentional and how much was not retrieving all the threads (a couple of things were clearly either explained or clearly left to the reader's own devices). This isn't to say that it's a novel where you'll end up frustrated by the ending (giving the stink eye to In the Woods), just that there were ragged bits and pieces.
So, there doesn't seem to be a release date slated for The Fire Child, yet, in the States. If you read Twins (which was released here) and enjoyed it, I feel assured that you will enjoy Fire Child as well. So keep an eye out for it or, if you're really wanting that lovely, desperate let-me-get-back-to-my-damn-book-stuff-is-happening-! feeling, you can also buy it through the book title link above, at the Book Depository.