The Fire Child by S K Tremayne

The Fire ChildRachel Kerthen has an ideal life. Newly married to David Kerthen, living in a beautiful house, Carnhallow, in Cornwall overlooking the tin mines, stepmother to the ideal stepson Jamie. But a shadow is falling over her idyllic existence. Before you can say “Last night, I dreamed I went to Carnhallow again”, questions are arising about David’s first wife Nina, who apparently drowned in one of the mines. Who was present when she died? Was it an accident, suicide or murder? Or is it possible that Nina isn’t actually dead? Jamie certainly seems to think so…

Rachel finds herself trapped in a nightmare, as Nina’s ghost seems to wreak havoc with the family. And things are counting down to Christmas Day – the day that, according to Jamie, that Rachel is going to die…

This is S K Tremayne’s second novel, following the successful The Ice Twins, but this is my first encounter with the writer. Admittedly, the author has written other books, under the pseudonym Tom Knox and under his real name, Sean Thomas, but this is the second Tremayne book, both psychological thrillers.

It’s certainly atmospheric. It’s very unclear as to whether or not the supernatural is going to play a part in this tale. It certainly seems to be the case as Jamie begins to make prophetic announcements, and Nina’s ghost – well, the ghost of her perfume – seems to stalk the halls of Carnhallow. But there are questions about Rachel’s sanity as well, so as she is narrating the majority of the tale (with the other sections from her husband’s point of view), the unreliability of the narrator kicks in to complicate procedures. Jamie’s increasing erratic behaviour

The descriptions of Cornwall and the mines are extremely vivid and add to the atmosphere – which is pretty important here, as while this is an effective tale of a nightmare, as a thriller, it’s somewhat lacking. Even when the crucial piece of information is revealed, some of the events that take place don’t really make a vast amount of sense. Of course, I’m a bit of a rationalist, and if you wander over to Goodreads, you’ll see plenty of people who loved this story. But for me, I prefer to have things explained properly – or even explained with a supernatural element – rather than being written off as just being a bit odd.

At the end of the day, despite being gripped for chunks of the book, in hindsight, I wished there had been more going on – the ending just didn’t seem to be enough given the build-up. If you like psychological thrillers, this is Worth A Look, but it didn’t really work for me. For an alternative viewpoint, please pop over to My Chestnut Reading Tree for Joanne’s opinion.

 

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5 comments

  1. I found this ‘flirtation’ with the supernatural and lack of rational explanation a bit tiresome in The Ice Twins as well, although I do admit the author’s got great atmospheric descriptions.

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  2. Thanks for linking to my review. This seems to be a book people either really love or really don’t! For me I even preferred it to The Ice Twins but I’m in the minority there as well! 😊😊

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  3. I found that it was a decent enough story, but far far too much like The Ice Twins, which I had read before – and now makes me reticent to read any future books by this (version of this) author. One trick pony perhaps?

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