Highfire by Eoin Colfer (Review)

I can get on with earning an honest buck. Ain’t nothing illegal about fetching groceries for a dragon.

Highfire is a 4 star story, with 5 star characters by a 10 star author. It’s coming out on the 28th January 2020, and it’s an insta-buy from me.

I’ve been a fan of Eoin Colfer for a long time (remind me to share one day the story of how I cheated at a test in school because I was fluent in the Gnommish written language from the Artemis Fowl books), and recently I picked up his Iron Man novel from the library. I’m firmly convinced that Eoin Colfer is one of the funniest fantasy writers out there, so when Netgalley advertised an adult fantasy novel he’d written, I requested it so fast I’m surprised my mouse didn’t break. I saved it for my holiday, and ended up reading it in one sitting, laughing my ass off the whole way through.

Read me for the…

  • Dragons
  • Contemporary fantasy
  • Found family
  • Crude humour
  • Genre crossing comedy

The Plot:

Vern is the last dragon. He’s lived through knights and heroes, and the downfall of all of his kind. Now he’s living the quiet life, tucked away in a cabin in the Bayou with vodka, Flashdance and human-free peace and quiet.

Squib Moreau is a juvenile troublemaker gone straight-ish, trying to stay on the right side of the law and working two, soon to be three, jobs to take care of his mother. Waxman is his boss, and he’s got his eye on Squib to take over his duties to Vern while he takes an over-due vacation.

Regence Hooke has big ambitions, to create an illegal firearms pipeline and to win over Squib’s mother but when Squib catches him in the act of killing a witness, he thinks he’ll kill two birds with one stone by getting Squib out of his way for good. But Squib is a dragon’s familiar these days, and Hooke is about to find out that Vern doesn’t take kindly to his familiar being kidnapped when an all-out war breaks out in the Bayou between bent cops and a dragon who’s sick of humans and all their shit. As Eoin puts it himself:

Vern lost his shit at warp speed.

What did I love?

  • Writing Style

    I saved so many highlights on my kindle as I was reading the eARC of this book. Mostly because I was laughing out loud at most pages. I’m not kidding when I say that my first highlight was on page 2 when Vern was explaining the pros and cons of having sex with an alligator. The writing is just… funny. The text is light-hearted and fast-paced, littered with cultural references and in all honesty, stupid the whole way through. But that’s good-stupid, not bad-stupid. Personally, I have a huge dislike for books (and movies and TV) that take themselves too seriously, and this book doesn’t do that. It sits on the boundaries of a few different genres, swiping the best bits of each. This book is 50% a fantasy tale about the last dragon trying to survive modern day humanity, 50% a contemporary thriller about a bent cop hunting a teenager for evidence, and 100% a wild ride. It’s crude, and definitely an adult novel but NA and older YA would probably enjoy it too. Your mileage may vary, but I don’t think this was ever to the point where I would call it inappropriate.
  • Varied Characters

    The characters in this book are as vivid as I’d expect from Eoin Colfer. Even the side-characters had distinct and memorable traits, but the main four characters were particularly strong. Vern and Squib, supported by Waxman, versus Hooke made for a wacky as hell cast. Vern defies all expectations for an ancient dragon, least of all the last dragon. Hunting, pillaging and kidnapping damsels? Nah, Vern likes vodka martinis, Flashdance and more vodka martinis. Waxman’s been working with (and that’s with, not for) Vern for a long time, but it’s time for him to take a long-term nap in dragon dung, so he ropes Squib Moreau into taking over as Vern’s familiar while he’s gone. Vern doesn’t like Squib, at first, but that’s traditional for this found family shtick, and there is a genuinely heartwarming scene amongst all the comedy when Vern realises that he’s gotten attached to the kid after centuries of swearing off humans altogether.

    As a villain, Hooke is legitimately brilliant. He’s awful, crude and cruel and heartless, but he’s also genuinely interesting and fleshed out. His motivations are pretty realistic for ‘small town bent cop with no remorse’. He solidifies himself as a bad guy very early, and he enjoys it too, but he still manages to put up a legitimate fight against Vern and Squib.

What did I not love?

This was a 5 star read for me, and if I’m writing up a review and can’t think of something I didn’t like then I’m happy enough to post without one. This wasn’t a flawless book by any means, but it still made for a perfect read. Highfire is the kind of book that knows exactly what it is, and what it’s supposed to be and it makes no apologies for its ridiculousness. I love that kind of shameless comedy.

Where can I buy?

Waterstones / Amazon / Jo Fletcher Books

If you can, please support your local independent booksellers!

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