“It took only six words to shatter her dreams.
When Rachel marries dark, handsome David, everything seems to fall into place. Swept from single life in London to the beautiful Carnhallow House in Cornwall, she gains wealth, love, and an affectionate stepson, Jamie.
But then Jamie’s behaviour changes, and Rachel’s perfect life begins to unravel. He makes disturbing predictions, claiming to be haunted by the spectre of his late mother – David’s previous wife. Is this Jamie’s way of punishing Rachel, or is he far more traumatised than she thought?
As Rachel starts digging into the past, she begins to grow suspicious of her husband. Why is he so reluctant to discuss Jamie’s outbursts? And what exactly happened to cause his ex-wife’s untimely death, less than two years ago? As summer slips away and December looms, Rachel begins to fear there might be truth in Jamie’s words:
My most recent reading material was the psychological thriller “The Fire Child” by British author Sean Thomas. Thomas is a writer and journalist who writes religious / archaeological thrillers under the name Tom Knox, and “The Fire Child” is the second psychological novel that he has penned as S.K. Tremayne, the first being 2015’s “The Ice Twins”.
This book is set primarily in the western part of Cornwall, with a few scenes in London where the character of David Kerthen works as an expensive lawyer during the week. At weekends and in holidays he returns to his ancestral home of Carnhallow House, part of a large estate that includes a number of long since disused tin mines remaining from when the family owned and ran a very profitable mining business.
At home is David’s new wife Rachel, and his eight year old son Jamie. David’s first wife Nina died as a result of an accident in one of the mine shafts about a year and a half before the beginning of the story. Nina had been working on restoring the ancient house and former professional photographer Rachel finds herself taking on the task as well as doing her utmost to be the best stepmum to Jamie that she can be. Nonetheless this is a challenge as the child seems to be withdrawing into himself.
When one day Jamie tells Rachel that he believes that she’ll be dead by Christmas, which is just a few months away, this is just one of a number of strange conversations that she has had with him – and he seems to be convinced that Nina isn’t really dead too.
It’s clear that David knows more than he’s letting on and he is oddly adverse to getting any help for Jamie’s troubled state of mind. Meanwhile Rachel is harbouring secrets of her own and as the days tick by it becomes less clear just what is going on and who – if anyone – is the “bad guy”…
I did enjoy this novel, though with all the action centred in a small geographic area and around a very small cast of main players it did seem to perhaps be dragging things out a bit at times. That said, the sense of mental instability and impending madness was nicely handled and did keep the reader (this one, at least) guessing as to quite what was going on and where we would end up.
As the tale progressed I did feel that neither Rachel nor David were particularly nice individuals under the surface and that was borne out by various revelations, and it was unclear for a long time if this would turn out to be a kind of paranormal ghost story or what. I have to admit that some of the plot turns just seemed a bit too implausible for me in all honesty. All that said, however, “The Fire Child” was a decent enough read and one could do far worse than pick this one up…