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The Fire-Eaters

3.55  ·  Rating Details ·  901 Ratings  ·  110 Reviews
Bobby Burns knows he’s a lucky lad. Growing up in sleepy Keely Bay, Bobby is exposed to all manner of wondrous things: stars reflecting off the icy sea, a friend that can heal injured fawns with her dreams, a man who can eat fire. But darkness seems to be approaching Bobby’s life from all sides. Bobby’s new school is a cold, cruel place. His father is suffering from a myst ...more
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published May 11th 2004 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers (first published January 1st 2003)
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Catriona (LittleBookOwl)
Nov 15, 2014 Catriona (LittleBookOwl) rated it it was ok
Shelves: owned, school
This just wasn't for me. I didn't connect to any of the characters, and the plot didn't keep me interested and lacked excitement.
I did somewhat enjoy the last few chapters, but the rest was pretty meh for me.
Rebecca McNutt
David Almond's books always push boundaries from reality into fantasy, and this novel is no exception. Although much darker than Skelig, the story still features important themes such as the value of friendship and the futility of nuclear war.
Feb 26, 2014 Seamaiden rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I bought this book from a small bookstore close to my university because it was 1/3 of its original price and because I liked the title. I read the back cover and found the story different than what I usually read so I said "let's do it".

I started the book but nothing really interesting happened. Still, I couldn't say I won't read it. Something inside me kept telling me there is more. When I did finish the book, I felt it was a wonderful book. It has no dragons, no elves, no great deeds. It is a
The scenes of self-harming and soul searching are upsetting and disturbing but feel fresh and honest. A mixed result.
Sep 04, 2009 Ruhama rated it really liked it
Shelves: teen
Bobby is growing up during the years of nuclear fear and worries about America and Russia starting another war. The book opens a few weeks before school starts, and Bobby has managed to get into an exclusive prep school, and he wonders how he will fit in—Bobby lives in a blue collar section of England—Keely Bay, a coal mining town. Bobby also has to deal with his father having a bit of a medical scare, a contortionist who seems to defy the laws of nature, a girl he’s known all his life becoming ...more
Homa Lezgee
Nothing too obviously about reincarnation and angels this time but a lot of too obvious and glaring messages against war and weapons of mass destruction. I can’t appreciate this book as much as "Skellig" or "My Name Is Mina" but I still appreciate David Almond’s simple yet strong writing style.

I guess young minds will be drawn to pray after reading this book. He encourages praying, “even if you don’t believe in anything”.

Was it Bobby and Ailsa’s prayers that saved the fawn, that cured Bobby’s
Linda Lipko
Aug 04, 2009 Linda Lipko rated it really liked it
This one is set in a sleepy, off the beaten path, coal town near New Castle, England. As usual, Almond writes of coming of age experiences with a cast of characters both soft and hard, gritty and kind.

As the United States and The Soviet Union prepare for potential nuclear disaster during the Cuban missile crisis, Bobby Burns witnesses McNulty, a fire breathing illusionist, carnival-like man who, as the story progresses, symbolically represents destruction and the power of fire to charm, and harm
Amy Bailey
Oct 18, 2011 Amy Bailey rated it it was amazing
Reading this book made me remember what I liked so much about the first David Almond book I read, "Skellig." His stories are full of rich characters and so much wisdom you feel like your head might explode after reading it. This book follows young Robert Burns, an English boy starting a new school in 1962 at the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis. In a world that's already been scarred by a terrible war and remains teetering on the brink of destruction, he tries to grow up and attain the life an ...more
Nov 08, 2011 Richard rated it it was amazing
An even deeper, richer pleasure on re-reading than the first time.

Maybe I'm biased, because I too grew up in England in the 1960s, under the constant shadow of nuclear war. But this small, dark diamond of a book, about a boy growing up on the North Sea coast during the Cuba Missile Crisis, is an extraordinary accomplishment, and gets my vote for one of the best middle grade novels ever written. Oh, forget middle grade: this is a book for adults to read, just because it is simple yet intricate, e
Oct 10, 2014 Natasha rated it liked it
Almond paints the world from the view of a child so well that you forget he is not a child himself. Dealing with some heavy themes, The Fire Eaters makes you question aspects of reality that you accepted long ago. Why is the world the way it is?
What is childhood?
Is there a God?
Almond asks these questions, but never answers them. If you are triggered by heavier themes or prone to existential crises, maybe give it a miss.
Apr 01, 2013 Alicia rated it did not like it
This book is the worst thing I've ever read!!!!
It's not even propper english, and u can NOT understand a word they say. It makes no sense what so ever. And the plot is completely useless. It is something I would NEVER recommend to anyone. It is a disgrace to all those GOOD books out there! And I hope no-one ever has to go through the torture of reading this book.
Aug 30, 2012 jennifer rated it did not like it
yo be honest, i hadn't even finished the book. i couldn't ever understand what the characters were talking about and they spoke in old timely/British style which was confusing. i do not advise this book to anyone.
Jul 03, 2008 Lia rated it it was amazing
Shelves: historical
This book was not at all what I was expecting. The author's ability to express a coming-of-age male, without turing the book into a "growing up" book and without relying on the usual path, is excellent.
Austin Phadoungsyavong
I think right book and make sure think about fire-eaters kid name Bobby was in school just first and his friend tell about story or ask about yourself then he know about his family but he don't know father is mystery and mom know about father.
Apr 24, 2007 Susan rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone with a little imagination
An important period of recent history is brought to life through the eyes of a boy in Northeast England.

The threat of nuclear war, brought about by the infamous Cuban Missile Crisis. A memsmerising performance by a fire-eater, playing to the crowds of spellbound, slightly fearful people.
Another amazing Almond book :-)
Apr 17, 2009 Gerri rated it it was amazing
I LOVED this book!!! The kids did as well, so beautiful so brilliant!
Nov 05, 2008 Jamie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ya-lit, favorites, 2004
My favorite Almond novel.
"Sometimes," said Ailsa, "the world's just so amazing."
I looked into her eyes.
"It is," I said.

It is these type of books that remind me why i love reading so much.
David Almond has this spectacular ability to twist the most simplest prose and transform it into a piece of poetic heartfelt wonder and every book of his that I have read has just crawled into a warm nook in my heart and has and will stay there forever and keep me content with everything life throws at me.
Sep 04, 2012 Brendan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, audio, 2012, youth
The Fire Eaters follows a few days in the life of Bobby, a British boy who lives in a coal-mining town and has just started at a new school. The novel takes place during the Cuban missile crisis. A few thoughts:

- At the core of the book are conflicts over identity. Bobby is a working class boy whose educational prospects are high. We get the impression that he's destined for higher education. By contrast, his friends seem already, at ten or eleven, to be approaching the end of their educational
Während die Welt innehält und mit einem dritten Weltkrieg rechnet (ausgelöst durch die Kuba-Krise 1962) geht die Welt des 12-jährigen Robert unter. Der Junge aus einfachen Verhältnissen muss damit rechnen, dass er seine beiden besten Freunde Ailsa und Joseph verliert, wenn er auf die höhrere Schule geht. Ailsa führt ihren Brüdern und dem Vater den Haushalt und geht in gar keine Schule mehr. Sie lässt es darauf ankommen, ob den Behörden zu ihrer Siutation etwas anderes einfällt, außer sie daran z ...more
Nov 19, 2014 Xander rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2015
I have to say that David Almond is one of the most interesting authors I've come across in a long time. His books are either a hit or miss with me, but regardless of being a miss, the imagery in every book of his lingers on with you well after you've returned the book to the shelf. The Fire-Eaters for me was more of a miss, hence my "It was ok" rating. Set in Keely Bay in Northumberland, England, around the Cuba Missile Crisis, it tells the story of a boy who starts at a new, strictly religious ...more
Helena Spiteri
Apr 05, 2013 Helena Spiteri rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Fire-Eaters by David Almond follows the story of Bobby Burns, who lives in a sleepy coal-mining town near Keely Bay in Northumberland. The story is set in 1962 and opens with Bobby on his summer holidays. Things for Bobby seem a bit grim. His father is ill and Bobby is worried about him. Also, he is concerned about starting his new grammar school. Bobby’s world is changing and he must come to terms with those changes. When he starts school he doesn’t like his new teachers because they are ve ...more
M. A. P.
Jun 16, 2015 M. A. P. rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novel-novella
Setting: Keely Bay, England, a dying coastal town drowning in slack. Time: the Cold War, during which people feared the possibility of a WWIII. Set in such a turbulent period of time that would change the known world order in the West, The Fire-Eaters is a book of subtle story telling, of subtle conveying of emotions.

Subtlety tends to be very much a hit and miss for me, and unfortunately, I must say this one was more of a miss to me. Most of the characters I could feel nothing much towards, such
Feb 21, 2012 DubaiReader rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Unabridged version read by the author.

This was a cleverly written book, with several themes weaving themselves in and out of the narrative.
The Fire Eater, of the title, is also an escapologist and war veteran. He makes his living as a street performer, dealing with his demons from the war by inflicting pain on himself. Meanwhile the whole of the Western world is consumed by fear of the War ships steaming towards Cuba in a showdown with the Russians (1962). Again the theme of fire haunts the read
Jan 09, 2016 Natalie rated it really liked it
After enjoying Skellig so much I have to admit I was a little apprehensive on starting this book. However, I was really impressed. The book deals with themes of class, education, spiritual/religious beliefs and impact of war.

Although the main character is a young lad again, he lives in quite a different world to the main character in Skellig. It's set in the small Keeley Bay in the sixties, surrounded by other working class families. However, Bobby has been given the opportunity to gain an educa
Apr 20, 2008 Hank rated it really liked it
I looked at this book for a damn long time on the shelf before I read it. I think the reason is because I thought Fire Eating was going to be a cheesy analogy for, I don't know, taking shit from people. But it wasn't; the analogy was both deeper and more subtle. There were some very grown up characters and circumstances that were scary which made the book scary. It's set in a coastal coal town in northern England, an out of the way place for sure. This means that the characters all know each oth ...more
In the last days of summer, 1962, Bobby Burns first saw McNulty, the Fire-Eater. He could wriggle free of binding chains, or stick a skewer through one cheek and out the other, so it stretched the span of his mouth. Or McNulty could breath fire, so that you couldn’t tell where the man ended and the fire began. McNulty’s past is dark and full of violence, but Bobby cannot stop thinking about him. As he begins his first days at a new school, as he worries about his father’s hacking cough, as he wa ...more
In the last days of summer, 1962, Bobby Burns first saw McNulty, the Fire-Eater. He could wriggle free of binding chains, or stick a skewer through one cheek and out the other, so it stretched the span of his mouth. Or McNulty could breath fire, so that you couldn’t tell where the man ended and the fire began. McNulty’s past is dark and full of violence, but Bobby cannot stop thinking about him. As he begins his first days at a new school, as he worries about his father’s hacking cough, as he wa ...more
Dan Lee
Feb 24, 2014 Dan Lee rated it liked it
This book was probably the most interesting to me so far because of the hard life that the main character(Bobby Burns)is having and his friends Daniel and Alisa. His new school that he was transferred to is abusive. For example his friend Daniel is enrolled to the school that Bobby is in. And all of the students were lined up to be checked by the headmaster, Mr. Todd. Daniel was checked after Bobby and then Mr. Todd said "What is this, Gower?" (Gower is Daniel's last name) "It is my hair. Sir." ...more
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David Almond is a British children's writer who has penned several novels, each one to critical acclaim. He was born and raised in Felling and Newcastle in post-industrial North East England and educated at the University of East Anglia. When he was young, he found his love of writing when some short stories of his were published in a local magazine. He started out as an author of adult fiction be ...more
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