The BookBrowse Review

Published January 22, 2020

ISSN: 1930-0018

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Book Jacket

Highfire
by Eoin Colfer
28 Jan 2020
384 pages
Publisher: Harper Perennial
ISBN-13: 9780062938558
Genre: Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Speculative, Alt. History
Critics:
Readers:
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From the New York Times bestselling author of the Artemis Fowl series comes a hilarious and high-octane adult novel about a vodka-drinking, Flashdance-loving dragon who lives an isolated life in the bayous of Louisiana - and the raucous adventures that ensue when he crosses paths with a fifteen-year-old troublemaker on the run from a crooked sheriff.

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.

A triumphant return to the genre-bending fantasy that Eoin Colfer is so well known for, Highfire is an effortlessly clever and relentlessly funny tour-de-force of comedy and action.

"Colfer's catchy narrative voice suits the characters and their setting perfectly, capturing Vern's world-weary nature, Squib's youthful adaptability, and Hooke's malicious cunning. This no-holds-barred yarn is good fun from start to finish." - Publishers Weekly

"[Colfer] writes this book in a folksy Louisiana voice that drawls right off the page...A fun, unusual contemporary fantasy that doesn't skimp on violence." - Kirkus Reviews

"Colfer turns to dark-laughs fantasy in this story." - Library Journal

Write your own review

Rated 5 of 5 of 5 by Cloggie Downunder
a very entertaining read!
“Every time he met someone, Hooke was figuring how to murder them and get away with it, in case the need arose.”

Highfire is a stand-alone novel by Irish author, Eoin Colfer. The Louisiana bayou: about the last place you'd expect to find a dragon. But here, just upstream from Petit Bateau on a trib of the West Peace River, is Vern (formerly Wyvern Lord Highfire of the Highfire Eyrie and possibly the very last dragon in the world), drinking Absolut, watching Netflix, wearing Flashdance T-shirts and staying under the (human) radar.

Fifteen-year-old Cajun-blood tearaway, Everett (Squib) Moreau is about to meet with a local small-time crook for some work when he witnesses the murder of said crook by (the totally corrupt Constable) Regence Hooke who, incidentally, is displaying what Squib considers an unhealthy interest in his mother, Elodie. Heard, but not seen, he tries to escape, and when Hooke begins tossing concussion grenades at him, and Squib believes he’s about to die.

Blacked out from the unexpected G force lift, Squib comes to, stunned to find himself in the cabin of what claims to be a dragon: a talking dragon who begins interrogating him. Fast forward some hours, and he has a job that includes acting as gofer for the (human-hating) dragon and shovelling dragon excrement over a mogwai called Waxman. As you do.

Regence Hooke has mighty plans concerning the takeover of a New Orleans mob boss’s operation, and observes Squib’s diligent industry with not a little interest: there might just be something here he can make use of… From there, heaps of action and gunplay, lots of high-power weapons and therefore a substantial body count. Colfer gives his characters plenty of clever, funny dialogue and it all makes for a very entertaining read!

Eoin Colfer (pronounced Owen) was born in Wexford on the South-East coast of Ireland in 1965, where he and his four brothers were brought up by his father (an elementary school teacher, historian and artist of note) and mother (a drama teacher). He first developed an interest in writing in primary (elementary) school with gripping Viking stories inspired by history he was learning in school at the time! 

After leaving school he got his degree from Dublin university and qualified as a primary school teacher, returning to work in Wexford. He married in 1991 and he and his wife spent about 4 years between 1992 and 1996 working in Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Italy. His first book, Benny and Omar, was published in 1998, based on his experiences in Tunisia; it has since been translated into many languages. A sequel followed in 1999, followed by some other books. Then in 2001 the first Artemis Fowl book was published and he was able to resign from teaching and concentrate fully on writing. 

He says, "I will keep writing until people stop reading or I run out of ideas." Hopefully neither of these will happen anytime soon. He lives in Ireland with his wife and two children.

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