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Enthralling gothic thriller in the vein of Rebecca

The Fire Child

by Tremayne, S. K.

HarperCollins UK, HarperFiction


Mystery & Thrillers, General Fiction (Adult)

Pub Date 16 Jun 2016


The Fire Child is an enthralling gothic thriller, in the vein of such classics as Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca. Rachel’s world changes drastically when she marries a wealthy and handsome, older widower with a young son. Everything seems perfect, but soon after moving into the Carnhallow House, Jamie begins behaving oddly, saying strange things, and asserting that his mother is still alive. David’s previous wife, elegant, beautiful and very similar in appearance to Rachel died less than two years ago. What troubles Rachel most is Jamie’s statement - “You will be dead by Christmas”.

The Fire Child has a strong psychological element. In particular the bond between parent and child is of central importance. Where The Fire Child differs from the gothic mold is with the inclusion of chapters narrated by the husband, David. David and Rachel both wish to protect Jamie, but rather than that desire bringing them closer together, it pushes them further apart. Secrets and lies, fear and tension threaten to destroy Carnhallow in entirety.

The Fire Child caught me in its net of intrigue. While I knew the supernatural element was unreal, I could understand how circumstances could lead both Rachel and Jamie into madness and drive David to violence and despair. While I didn’t particularly like the characters per se as individuals, I could understand them, empathize with them. S. K. Tremayne is a talented author. She makes what may otherwise seem contrived to be entirely possible, and her characters live and breathe. If you enjoy gothic thrillers or mysteries with a strong psychological slant, The Fire Child is a superb selection.


I received a copy of The Fire Child from the publisher and in exchange for an honest review.



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 behaviour changes, and Rachel’s perfect life begins to unravel. He makes disturbing predictions, claiming to be haunted by the spectre 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.’

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