Written By: Joe Hill

Narrated By: Kate Mulgrew

Date: May 2016

Duration: 22 hours 20 minutes


From the award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of NOS4A2 and Heart-Shaped Box comes a chilling novel about a worldwide pandemic of spontaneous combustion that threatens to reduce civilization to ashes and a band of improbable heroes who battle to save it, led by one powerful and enigmatic man known as the Fireman.

The fireman is coming. Stay cool.

No one knows exactly when it began or where it originated. A terrifying new plague is spreading like wildfire across the country, striking cities one by one: Boston, Detroit, Seattle. The doctors call it Draco Incendia Trychophyton. To everyone else it’s Dragonscale, a highly contagious, deadly spore that marks its hosts with beautiful black and gold marks across their bodies—before causing them to burst into flames. Millions are infected; blazes erupt everywhere. There is no antidote. No one is safe.

Harper Grayson, a compassionate, dedicated nurse as pragmatic as Mary Poppins, treated hundreds of infected patients before her hospital burned to the ground. Now she’s discovered the telltale gold-flecked marks on her skin. When the outbreak first began, she and her husband, Jakob, had made a pact: they would take matters into their own hands if they became infected. To Jakob’s dismay, Harper wants to live—at least until the fetus she is carrying comes to term. At the hospital, she witnessed infected mothers give birth to healthy babies and believes hers will be fine too. . . if she can live long enough to deliver the child.

Convinced that his do-gooding wife has made him sick, Jakob becomes unhinged, and eventually abandons her as their placid New England community collapses in terror. The chaos gives rise to ruthless Cremation Squads—armed, self-appointed posses roaming the streets and woods to exterminate those who they believe carry the spore. But Harper isn’t as alone as she fears: a mysterious and compelling stranger she briefly met at the hospital, a man in a dirty yellow fire fighter’s jacket, carrying a hooked iron bar, straddles the abyss between insanity and death. Known as The Fireman, he strolls the ruins of New Hampshire, a madman afflicted with Dragonscale who has learned to control the fire within himself, using it as a shield to protect the hunted . . . and as a weapon to avenge the wronged.

In the desperate season to come, as the world burns out of control, Harper must learn the Fireman’s secrets before her life—and that of her unborn child—goes up in smoke.


  • Katie C

    Let me start off by saying that I have read three other Joe Hill novels and have loved them (Horns, Heart-Shaped Box, and NOS4A2). So I was really excited to read The Fireman. It was highly anticipated with an alluring premise. Unfortunately, I was really, really disappointed. I wanted to stop reading it about 150 pages in but since it was so long (768 pages!!!), I was really hoping it would turn around in the second half. Instead, I just got more annoyed. There are 4 main reasons I didn't like the book: 1.) HARPER I liked Harper at the beginning of the novel. She's a huge Julie Andrews/Mary Poppins fan. She says and does things that kept making me think she was in her 60's. She acts like an old lady. About a quarter of the way through the book you find out she's only 27. Alright, that's not really a big deal but later on in the book she just really annoyed me. She says so many cringeworthy things. I really was eye-rolling through most of this book. Her conversations with John, the fireman, are the worst. They just felt awkward and embarrassing. Harper is so oblivious. I know most of the time the author intentionally puts something in for the readers to pick up on and have the protagonist blatantly miss it, but some of the things just made me think that she was very stupid. Without going into specifics to avoid spoilers, she just doesn't pick up on anything. Someone will say something important about a character that may be doing harm and they get interrupted and she's just 'ok, I’ll let that go'. To me, Harper is an unlikable character and I just couldn't sympathize with her. Since she's the protagonist, this was important. 2.) NONSTOP POP CULTURE REFERENCES That’s all I can say about that. So many that they were in almost every other paragraph. I had read a review once in the past comment on a different book. The reviewer complained about the novel having a lot of pop culture references and it annoyed her. I didn’t understand it then but I do now. 3.) TYPICAL POST APOCALYPTIC CLICHES The novel is very predictable. If you're a frequent reader of the sci-fi/fantasy genre, you'll see that there are many, many cliches in this one. I'm not sure how to write about this one without going into too much detail to avoid spoilers. I’ll just say that the spore in the novel is the only unique idea. Everything else is unoriginal and I expected more from such a great author. Nothing new is being brought to the genre. 4.) CONFUSING WORLD/NEEDS MORE WORLD BUILDING I am very confused about the world in The Fireman. It can't be truly post-apocalyptic because cell phones work and there's still police and ambulances. Why isn't there any organization protecting the infected? If they existed in the beginning and were wiped out, wouldn't that mean that almost all of the population were infected? It doesn't seem that way. If emergency services are working, then why are there cremation crews running around shooting and burning the infected. Have they agreed that all the infected deserve to die because their doomed anyway? The Martha Quinn island is not hidden and available for infected to flock to. They're learning to control the spore that infected them and live with it. So in the same logic as above, the cremation crews running around killing anyone infected no questions asked, are just leaving this island alone were several hundred infected are living? I wish this novel had more world building. I should have stuck with my instinct and stopped reading this book. I will not give up completely on Joe Hill since I love his other novels. This one is overwritten and unoriginal.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful.

  • Cereelklr

    I am no authority on novels so take this with a grain of salt. For me it was way too drawn out and overwritten. If I were to sit down to read this book I would have given up about a quarter of the way through. I am still a fan of Joe Hill.

  • Rosemary C

    Had it been I paperback would not have gotten past the first chapter. Took me a month to get through it. Was not my best choice of books to read. Probably will not listen to again. The narrator Captain Janeway of the USS Voyager. Yes do like her voice, guess only reason finished book. As captain she brought the Voyager home in one piece, just had to do the same with the book.

  • Sonja Maroni

    Somewhat interesting premise but very tedious. Awful editing- it should have been at least 100 pages or 3-5 hours shorter. Good narrator, but doesn't compensate for the story.

  • Brenda Gauthey

    I liked the book. The characters were interesting and the range of subjects was interesting. It touched on lots of stuff.

  • Jennifer Ferguson

    Great characters and unexpected twists in the story. I really liked the narrator's expression of the story.

  • natalie koch

    On the fence with this one. Certainly the characters are interesting and the concept is really unique. I just can't help but be critical on a great many small things. From the point of view of an avid reader, it just seems to me that there's way too much explaining and re-explaining for a writer of such high regard to allow to happen. Certainly enjoyable enough though. Just disappointed. As for Kate Mulgrew, as much as I enjoy her dramatic take on the story, there's a quality to her voice I personally don't care for. But that's just me, no doubt other won't have this issue.

  • james boles

    i like the author, love the narrator. terrible premise. terrible. does he not have editors? this was disappointing.

  • Sarah Merriman

    Not Joe Hill's most captivating but a good, long read for work. Kate is a good narrater, she could've used a couple more distinct voices for main characters though, she was better in Nos4A2.

  • Jody Gabbert

    Great book, lots of King influence, but still his own guy for sure. Took me a minute to get into the narration, but overall was really good. Check out Heart Shaped Box, it's really good as well.

  • Sandra Bernight

    *THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS* It was interesting. How things progressed to where I thought of different ways of the ending. I didn't want the last person to die but I guess that was the reason for the ending to happen. I enjoyed this book.

  • Robert Boschi

    Great book! Joyfully made me think of how fire bending began!

Fireman: A Novel

by Joe Hill

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