|By Joe Hill
There’s something magical about Joe Hill. Something deeply disturbed — as we’d expect from a child of horror demigod Stephen King — but magical in those shadows. Never one to go the obvious route, Hill has managed to take a typical apocalyptic set-up and instead of giving readers just a thriller, he’s delivered a glorious study of motherhood, expectation, society and love.
“The Fireman” opens with a man dying garishly in a schoolyard by spontaneous combustion. School nurse Harper Grayson — Julie Andrews aficionado and general do-gooder — watches it happen. A terrifying new plague, known as “Dragonscale,” has come to her small New Hampshire town. Highly contagious, untreatable and unpredictable, the spore creates gorgeous gold and black patches on its sufferers before impulsively turning them into their own funeral pyre. No one is safe, and no matter how hard Harper tries to avoid infection while trying to save her town, there’s nothing she can do when the glided, smoky patches start to show up on her body.
But Harper isn’t entirely alone. As society and her local hospital dissolve into ash, she discovers she’s pregnant. Her husband, unable to handle the terror of waiting to die, abandons her, and she’s left with nothing but an obsession to quell the fire inside long enough to give birth.
After experiencing an array of inventively terrible humanity, Harper at last comes across the eponymous Fireman. Covered in all the signs of the deadly infection, he manages to avoid bursting into flames and is able to rescue the worthy and to punish the evil that always seems to surface when disaster flares. CV
Julie is a collector of random beer, comfy slippers and endless thought spirals. She knows that’s what she said, you don’t have to keep telling her.