Highfire by Eoin Colfer

Posted June 25, 2020 by Amber in Reviews / 2 Comments

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Highfire

Highfire

by Eoin Colfer

Publisher: Harper Perennial on January 28, 2020
Genre: Dragons, Fantasy, Humor
Target Age Group: Middle Grade, Young Adult

Rating: ★★★★★

Check out this book on Goodreads

In the days of yore, he flew the skies and scorched angry mobs—now he hides from swamp tour boats and rises only with the greatest reluctance from his Laz-Z-Boy recliner. Laying low in the bayou, this once-magnificent fire breather has been reduced to lighting Marlboros with nose sparks, swilling Absolut in a Flashdance T-shirt, and binging Netflix in a fishing shack. For centuries, he struck fear in hearts far and wide as Wyvern, Lord Highfire of the Highfire Eyrie—now he goes by Vern. However...he has survived, unlike the rest. He is the last of his kind, the last dragon. Still, no amount of vodka can drown the loneliness in his molten core. Vern’s glory days are long gone. Or are they?

A canny Cajun swamp rat, young Everett “Squib” Moreau does what he can to survive, trying not to break the heart of his saintly single mother. He’s finally decided to work for a shady smuggler—but on his first night, he witnesses his boss murdered by a crooked constable.

Regence Hooke is not just a dirty cop, he’s a despicable human being—who happens to want Squib’s momma in the worst way. When Hooke goes after his hidden witness with a grenade launcher, Squib finds himself airlifted from certain death by…a dragon?

The swamp can make strange bedfellows, and rather than be fried alive so the dragon can keep his secret, Squib strikes a deal with the scaly apex predator. He can act as his go-between (aka familiar)—fetch his vodka, keep him company, etc.—in exchange for protection from Hooke. Soon the three of them are careening headlong toward a combustible confrontation. There’s about to be a fiery reckoning, in which either dragons finally go extinct—or Vern’s glory days are back.

 

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from LibraryThing Early Reviewers and HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

This book was such an unexpected delight.

It’s almost just… super insightful as to the maturity of my sense of humor.  Honestly.  I am so refined.  Only the most elite of jokes.

Oh, who am I kidding?

Highfire is overrun with balls-jokes, a violence-hungry crooked cop, and a dragon that loves Flashdance and honestly I am here for it.  It’s a little crude but utterly ridiculous, and undeniably my favorite Eoin Colfer-writing since The Last Guardian ended the Artemis Fowl series.  It’s not classy.  Not even, like, a little classy.  And I really didn’t think I was going to like it, but I loved it.

It’s going to come down to taste, though.  There’s a lot of people who will be immediately turned off by Highfire, for a few reasons.  It’s written in a dialect as to reflect the characters, and it does it really well.  It took me a little while to get used to it, but the slang and poor grammar added so much to the world building.  Add the crudity of the humor, and you’ve got a book that won’t appeal to every reader.  Fortunately, when you’re as successful an author as Eoin Colfer, you get some leniences.

And I’m glad for it.

First of all, Highfire is an adult fantasy.  The protagonist, Squib, may be a teen, but as far as content goes that’s not the targeted audience.  A lot of teens would love it, but when looking into the sexual innuendos and gore, it’s important to remember this book wasn’t written for high schoolers.

Some things I really appreciated?

The world building.  When Colfer gets going, his world building is utterly fantastic.  I think the Artemis Fowl series is a testament to this, and he’s got that same punch in Highfire.  It’s something I’ve felt lacks in his other work, and this was a breath of fresh air.  Well.  Swampy, Louisiana bayou air.  From the scenes to the smells to the dialogue, it all pulls you right in.  Swiftly and completely, it’s easy to sink into the mud here.

Related to world building, but as an Irish author writing in the American South, Colfer did not hold back on American stereotypes.  Especially our preoccupation with Second Amendment rights (“the right to bear arms”).  He does it a little tongue in cheek, but it’s honestly so scary true and it is good and refreshing to sometimes see those stereotypes on the page and remember, the rest of the world sees us as assholes.  Aaaaand with good reason.

The characters, too, were fabulously done.  And, yes, I’m including the third POV – Constable Regence Hooke – in this statement.  Hooke is just… completely irredeemable.  You know those books where the villain is written to be sympathetic?  Hooke is a monster.  He’s a crooked cop, ex-military, running drugs, murder for lols, patricidal, actual and quantifiable psychopath.  Reading this character felt so timely, even though this book came out last year.  Talk about an exposé on a bad cop.  Ouch.  It was perfect.  And needed.

Finally, I really loved the originality of the story.  You know how rare it is to come across a book that’s so completely unexpected?  It was like Dragonheart meets Terminator 2 and it was something I didn’t even know I was missing from my life, but dang I’m glad it’s here now.

So while I’d like to reiterate that this book will not be for everyone.  If you’re keen for something a bit ridiculous but completely immersive, with crude jokes about genitals and a kid with the actual worse luck in the world but the best mother, you’ll like Highfire.  It’s going to really depend on your sense of humor.  I found it keen, creative, and hilarious.  I loved it!

Ratings Breakdown

Setting: ★★★★★
Plot: ★★★★★
Characters: ★★★★★
Writing: ★★★★★
Pacing: ★★★★★
Personal Enjoyment: ★★★★★

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Highfire Stays on the Shelf

Ooooh, I will definitely read this book again.

Highfire brought me out of a bit of a slump caused by too many mediocre reads lately (despite my love for Alanna, it wasn’t a perfect pick-me-up).  I’m sure there’s a lot more to this story that I missed because I was so busy inhaling it and chuckling and running downstairs to read a passage to me unamused by tolerant husband.

Any book that makes me chuckle like this in the midst of a pandemic, social justice reform, political disappointment, and on hell week for a financial exam deserves a spot on my shelf.

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What books do you enjoy, but hesitate to recommend to people?  It’s mostly ones like this, odd creative pieces that require a certain sense of humor or certain tolerances that make me hesitate, even though I love them.  Share your strange favorites in the comments! (I may even TBR some!)

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2 responses to “Highfire by Eoin Colfer

    • Amber

      Yeah, I’m not going to lie, if the humor doesn’t hit with you, this is DEFINITELY going to be a DNF book. I … do not have the most … … mmm … refined? sense of humor. So it made me chuckle. But I do feel like the humor will alienate a lot of readers!