Over a week ago, I finished Joe Hill’s The Fireman. In this post I give you a brief recap of the story. There will be a shortlist of important characters like Harper Willows and John Rockwood. I’ll also give you some names I think are worth focusing on. No spoilers allowed, so don’t worry. Well, okay. I’ll give you one spoiler: I rate the book 5 stars!
People are becoming sick. Or so the story goes. A modern plague has struck humanity. Black and gold scales start forming on bodies. That’s how you can tell someone is infected. The spore – not a virus or bacteria – contaminates the body from the outside in. After several weeks the ill start to smoke. Instant combustion is the final station of the Dragonscale train.
That’s the setting of the book. It’s a dystopian world where humanity is falling apart. Before the sickness is fully understood, modern society has already collapsed. The infected are being hunted as most people think the spore spreads by contact. The sick are forming groups. Like in camp Wyndham, where Father Tom Storey is providing shelter for other contaminated people.
That’s where we find Harper Willows. Starting out in the novel as a school nurse, she becomes infected with the Dragonscale. She was cast out and saved by the fireman. That is John Rockwood, the first man known in that crazy world who controls the fire within him. Harper, who is pregnant and wants nothing more than her child to live, joins camp Wyndham. But the camp shows that not all that glitters is gold. Or that not all that burns, is fire.
Characters to Keep an Eye on
Here’s a list of characters you’ll want to follow during the book.
- Harper Willows, a self-made Mary Poppins who risks her life to save the lives of others. Hoping that her child will be born healthy, she joins camp Wyndham. She is the star of the book, the metaphorical spoon of sugar that gets you through this dystopian novel.
- John Rockwood is a true hero. After losing his wife to the Dragonscale, he helps the Storey family provide shelter and food for other infected. He is the fireman. If you look at the cover of the book, you get a glimpse of the importance of this character.
- Jacob Grayson, Harper’s husband. He becomes obsessed with the Dragonscale. Not one of the best characters of the book, but he’s important to the story.
- My favourite character throughout the book is Nick Storey. A young kid who is deaf and cannot speak. He’s a talent at controlling the spore, but too young to understand what it means. The boy bears some resemblances Nick Andros from The Stand. A great character Stephen King created, a good choice for inspiration.
My Two Cents
I am a Stephen King fan, there is no reason to deny that. I have loved The Stand and must agree that The Fireman shows some similarities to that book. But it’s a different story. An amazing one. Where The Stand follows a group of people that start a community in a post-apocalyptic world, The Fireman will take you on a rollercoaster of mindsets that show how people might react to an apocalyptic world. There is no “post-” in this story.
At some point in the book I thought the best was over. The novel had this predictive flow and was reaching its end. That’s when Joe Hill hits the hardest. And makes you burn with desire. The complete story is awesome, a recommendation for every reader.
I rate this book 5 stars. It is a story that has all the ingredients that the Horror-lover in me likes. The psyche of the infected and the non-infected. Good characters. A mysterious entity some might call “eventuality”. And the novel has a lot of references to Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series. Good call, Joe. Good call.
Have you read The Fireman? What’s your opinion on it? Leave a comment and let me know! If you haven’t read the story yet, you should. It’s great!