Highfire by Eoin Colfer

This review is something of a departure for me.  Firstly it is about an adult novel and secondly the post is just about this one title.

Eoin Colfer has been a favourite author of mine since I first came across Artemis Fowl in the early years of this millennium; has really been nearly twenty years?  His work is always quirky, whacky and full of laugh out loud humour, I think he invented the concept of ‘fart flaps’ for dwarfs and his imagination takes him to places that we can only dream of, but of course he then takes us along for the ride with these amazing stories.

Although he has written two other adult novels this is the first that I have read and it is definitely a change from any of the other works I have read.  rather than being set in Ireland this story is firmly embedded in the bayou lands of Louisiana and although the nearest I have been is the Florida Everglades, there is a real sense of place; so that you can really feel the heat and humidity  that the characters are having to live in.

The story itself  has a small cast but the two central ‘heroes’ are unusual to say the least.  Squib is a young teenager who spends his life trying to avoid trouble and school, whilst making money doing errands for those who live in the bayou.  What he doesn’t  expect is that one of his clients turns out to be a cable TV, flash dance loving dragon called Vern (that’s short for Wyvern).  At that moment it is time to suspend your disbelief and just go with the flow.  Of course this is not going to be the end of the story; enter the villain of the piece,  the sadistic sociopath of a sheriff called Regence Hooke who has his eyes on Squib’s mother and also is more than willing to get involved in bending the law to suit himself.When Hooke finds out about Vern the $$$ signs appear before his eyes and life gets extremely dangerous for anyone who gets in his way.

Given that this book is full of very strong language as well as a lot of blood and guts I didn’t think that I would like it, after all I am now in possession of a bus pass!  However I really loved it, so thank you Eoin Colfer for expanding my horizons and reminding me that you need to give a book a chance; this was definitely worth the read.  I found myself chuckling over some of the very subtle humour that the author has brought to this story; the references to Peter Pan which you can see with the name ‘Hooke’ as well as the Louisiana alligators which fill in nicely for a Crocodile are a joy.  However I think it is Vern who has definitely stolen my heart.  This is someone who has lived for a very long time, seen all other members of his family and species killed by humans,  has become a creature of legend and yet still manages to have a sense of humour and a desire to enjoy his life.

Eoin Colfer has given us a wonderful story of hope and friendship that overcomes the mutual distrust of some of the characters.  There is a wonderful sense of community despite the truly awful machinations of the sheriff and a sense of neighbours who are willing to share and help each other in the ups and downs of every day life.  Definitely a five star rating for this title.