DubaiReader's Reviews > The Fire-Eaters

The Fire-Eaters by David Almond
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's review
Feb 21, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: 2012, audiobook, young-adult
Read in February, 2012

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 reader, this time from nuclear explosion.

Closer to home, Bobby Burns spends time on his East Coast beach, trying to retain a normal life amongst the adults' tensions. When he joins the local Grammar School he finds the severe (excessive) discipline daunting. Meanwhile, his father seems to be suffering from some mysterious illness and no-one will let Bobby know what is happening. His two close friends, Ailsa and Jimmy keep him sane and the new boy from The South, Daniel, often helps him see things in a different light.

The characters were wonderful and the descriptions of the coastal world teemed with life. I had never heard of sea coal, which Ailsa and her family dragged from the sea for a living.
My only complaint about this book would be the excessive violence exhibited by the Fire Eater on himself, the thought of a skewer through from one cheek to the other made me cringe and could be quite upsetting for a sesitive child.
I was lucky enough to have the unabridged audio version, read by David Almond himself, although he has a very thick Northern accent that was a bit hard to comprehend at times. I am keeping my copy for another listen in the future and I will definitely look out for more by this author.

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