Title: The Fire Child by S.K. Tremayne
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
Length: 400 pages
Book Rating: B
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
THE PERFECT HUSBAND. THE PERFECT STEPSON. THE PERFECT LIE?
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 behavior changes, and Rachel’s perfect life begins to unravel. He makes disturbing predictions, claiming to be haunted by the specter of his late mother – David’s previous wife. Is this Jamie’s way of punishing Rachel, or is he far more traumatized 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:
“You will be dead by Christmas.”
With an isolated setting and increasingly unreliable characters, The Fire Child by S.K. Tremayne is an atmospheric, suspense-laden psychological thriller.
After a whirlwind courtship, thirty year old Rachel Daly marries forty year old lawyer David Kerthen who then whisks her and his eight year old son Jamie to the family estate in Cornwall. Initially blissfully happy, Rachel is struggling with her stepson’s increasingly upsetting behavior that eventually brings her to ask a few probing questions about his mother Nina’s somewhat tragic death. David is reluctant to divulge very many details and as Rachel becomes more concerned about Jaime’s mental state, she makes a decision that has violent consequences and puts her in a very precarious situation with her husband. Will Rachel find out the truth about Nina’s death? Can she protect herself and Jamie after events begin to escalate out of control?
Rachel has come a long way from her humble beginnings but she is still somewhat uncomfortable as she tries to resume the elegant renovations of David’s family estate. With David working long hours in London, Rachel is lonely but she keeps busy investigating her new surroundings. She is also busy with Jamie but she is becoming increasingly worried about his strange behavior and she becomes quite frightened after he makes a rather dire prediction. As Rachel begins piecing together the details of Nina’s fatal accident, some of the information she uncovers does not make sense and David is reluctant to discuss the night his first wife died. What secrets are her husband keeping? Why is he so unwilling to do more to help Jamie handle his grief?
At first glance, David is the perfect catch. He is a devoted father and he is a well-respected lawyer who works long hours. Through hard work and a lot of determination, he saved the estate after his father’s gambling problem nearly bankrupted the family. He positively adored his first wife, but David is quite smitten with Rachel and he has a great deal of respect for her. However, he is most displeased when she begins asking questions he does not want to answer and he is infuriated after she takes steps to try to get Jamie help for his odd behavior. In the aftermath of violent altercation, David is cold-hearted and ruthless in his attempts to take complete charge of his fracturing family.
In some ways, Jamie is a perfectly normal little boy. He loves his dad and he cares a great for Rachel. However, he is completely confused about some of the things that happened the night his mother died and with the anniversary of her death fast approaching, he is becoming quite desperate. Jamie’s declarations are unsettling and he is quite adamant that she is alive despite evidence to the contrary. However, inexplicable and unexplained occurrences play into some of Rachel’s doubts and fears and she becomes convinced that Jamie might have a legitimate reason for some of his beliefs.
For the most part, The Fire Child is an incredibly riveting mystery that moves at a very brisk pace. S.K. Tremayne does an absolutely brilliant job building suspense as Rachel tries to uncover the truth that David is trying so hard to keep from her. With the tension reaching a fever pitch, this psychological thriller comes to a pulse-pounding adrenaline-filled conclusion that neatly wraps up all of the various threads of this spell-binding and somewhat eerie story.