The Fireman by Joe Hill


The Fireman by Joe Hill
Unabridged Audio (22+ Hours!), Horror Fiction
No one knows exactly when it began or where it originated. A terrifying new plague is spreading like wildfire across the country, striking cities one by one: Boston, Detroit, Seattle. The doctors call it Draco Incendia Trychophyton. To everyone else it’s Dragonscale, a highly contagious, deadly spore that marks its hosts with beautiful black and gold marks across their bodies—before causing them to burst into flames. Millions are infected; blazes erupt everywhere. There is no antidote. No one is safe. 

Harper Grayson, a compassionate, dedicated nurse as pragmatic as Mary Poppins, treated hundreds of infected patients before her hospital burned to the ground. Now she’s discovered the telltale gold-flecked marks on her skin. When the outbreak first began, she and her husband, Jakob, had made a pact: they would take matters into their own hands if they became infected. To Jakob’s dismay, Harper wants to live—at least until the fetus she is carrying comes to term. At the hospital, she witnessed infected mothers give birth to healthy babies and believes hers will be fine too. . . if she can live long enough to deliver the child.

Convinced that his do-gooding wife has made him sick, Jakob becomes unhinged, and eventually abandons her as their placid New England community collapses in terror. The chaos gives rise to ruthless Cremation Squads—armed, self-appointed posses roaming the streets and woods to exterminate those who they believe carry the spore. But Harper isn’t as alone as she fears: a mysterious and compelling stranger she briefly met at the hospital, a man in a dirty yellow fire fighter’s jacket, carrying a hooked iron bar, straddles the abyss between insanity and death. Known as The Fireman, he strolls the ruins of New Hampshire, a madman afflicted with Dragonscale who has learned to control the fire within himself, using it as a shield to protect the hunted . . . and as a weapon to avenge the wronged.

In the desperate season to come, as the world burns out of control, Harper must learn the Fireman's secrets before her life—and that of her unborn child—goes up in smoke.
Well, what is there left to say about The Fireman that hasn’t already been said? Nothing much, that’s what. That’s what happens when you are the last to read a book that the rest of the reading world read months ago and you couldn’t avoid peeking at a few of the reviews.

I’ll keep it short because I’m feeling unmotivated, didn’t take notes and my memory is crap. But mostly I’m just lazy.

The Fireman was long. Oh lordy was it ever long. 747 pages long. I read at a snail’s pace and I don’t do well with books over 400 pages. If I had bought this in hardcover it probably would’ve sat on a shelf looking pretty for DECADES with me giving it longing looks every now and again but ultimately scared away by its girth.


Fortunately I found it on audio! And it was read by the fabulous Kate Mulgrew. Her voice sounds like it’s been through some terrible shit and has come out stronger because of it. She was the perfect choice for this smoky, apocalyptic tale of survival with her gritty voice and strong handle on the characters. She kept me grounded in the story and never tossed me out of it unlike many narrators I’ve tried in the past. But I won’t lie. I did have to rewind a time or two because my mind started to drift away but it was not due to Mulgrew. It was because the book was simply too long. It’s 22 hours and then some and there were some meh moments that slowed down the momentum for me.

For those who don’t know, it’s about a plague that sets the world aflame. People become infected with something called Dragonscale that leaves tattoo-like marks all over their skin and most of them eventually end up spontaneously combusting. Yikes! As the world goes to crap and fear reigns, the best and worst of humanity is put on display. Terrible things happen to terrible people and to good people as well. The book follows a small band of the infected as they attempt to live their lives for as long as possible. I enjoyed the main characters of Harper, Allie, Renee, Nick and The Fireman (who has a lovely accent). They’re all a little flawed and come across as very real. Hill had a long time to flesh them out and does a great job making you care about all of them. There’s a lot of death but there are also bits of humor and some beautiful relationship building. It may make you cry here and there, if you’re not as black hearted as myself.

I definitely recommend giving this a listen on audio but be sure to listen all the way to the very end because there is a little snippet after the acknowledgements that you don’t want to miss. The Fireman was fabulous and imaginative and I can easily recommend it. Just know that it’s a little too long.


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Comments

  1. I went and listened to the sample, I do like her voice for this so I put it on my audio wishlist. :)

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    Replies
    1. She really does a fantastic job. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did if you get a chance to read it.

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  2. Goodness that's a BIG book and dang a long audio to go with it! Geeze that would not be a fun way to go out! Glad you enjoyed it!

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    Replies
    1. It was huge! His books seem to be getting longer and longer.

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  3. It is very, very long. I read it in hardcover and let's just say that was not the kind of book I carried in my bag!

    I enjoyed it, though. Have you read anything else by Hill?

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    Replies
    1. This one could probably put your back out ;) I think I've read most of his work, except for his comics. I tried doing the audio of Locke and Key but it didn't work for me. One day I'll buy them all in an omnibus and read them that way.

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