I was thrilled to be chosen by Mumsnet Books to review The Firechild by SK Tremayne, and started to read it the moment it popped through my letterbox.
The book is a sort of supernatural thriller set in the dramatic scenery of the south Cornwall coast. As I started to read the book, which begins with an upbeat tale of love and rags to riches, I realise that I recognise a lot of the place names. I start to find it a little eerie that the book is set exactly where my family and I holidayed at half term, only a few weeks before.
We explored the abandoned tin mines which litter the rugged cliffs, and peered into deep dark holes which looked like they went to the centre of the earth, all the while grasping our children tightly. Even in the bright summer sunshine, the mines have a haunting air about them which leaves you with a slight shiver, despite the heat of the day.
As the story unfolds, the abandoned tin mines become very significant. The book is beautifully written, and even if you have never been to Cornwall, you could not help but become absorbed in the history and the vividly described landscapes. It does not take long for the plot to take some sinister couple twists and turns. This really is one of those books you do not want to put down. The landscape itself is what gives real credence to the plot line, and makes real the dark atmospheric mansion at the centre of this novel. The characters are instantly believeable. The plot is very fast moving, and at no point could I even guess where the characters in the story were going to end up.
Engrossed in the story, I gave an involuntary shudder to see mention of Morvah and the surrounding coastline take its place in the novel. Morvah is the tiny hamlet of about 4 houses and a church where we stayed in April. How unlikely that it should appear in a novel I read just after that holiday. Perhaps this adds to how much the story begins to affect me. Although I saw the tin mines in beautiful weather, there is no question of how desolate they look on the landscape. SK Tremayne really drives home how awful the working conditions must have been, and just how many men, women and children died working in the mines for little reward. There are a relatively small number of characters which means that you really do engage with them.
This is a tale of love and betrayal; of life and death; of the earthly and the ethereal; of the mother and her child; of the bereaved husband and the great family name. It is gripping and disturbing at the same time. I do very highly recommend reading it. I do not recommend reading it alone, especially at night. I am now devouring her first novel, The Ice Twins!