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Highfire by Eoin Colfer. Book review

Book cover for Highfire showing a scaly hand emerging from the water with a cocktail glass

Squib Moreau is a bit of a handful, giving no small amount of grief to his hard-working mother, Elodie. When Squib’s “stepfather” deserted them, he did so leaving debts in his wake for responsible Elodie to clean up. Now Squib has an opportunity to get his act together and earn a bit of money. But Squib, being Squib, cannot keep his nose out of the type of business any sensible body should steer well clear of. His curiosity is about to get him into a whole pile of other worldly trouble.

I’m always interested when a young adult author whose work I have really enjoyed makes the transition to writing for adults. The author has a great deal of responsibility in helping the reader take onboard the shift in tone and focus.

I have to admit, when I began reading Highfire I felt as if Eoin Colfer was trying too hard to be grown up. The book reads very much like Dukes of Hazzard with an overly large helping of profanities. Highfire is definitely not a children’s book.

Except for the recognisable underpinning of Colfer’s worldbuilding and plot development, I was left a bit in shock and nearly gave up reading. Artemis Fowl it is not.

Maybe that is no bad thing. As I carried on reading I got into the rhythm of the thing and began to enjoy the florid characters who, although classic southern states bayou caricatures, sat well into the flamboyant plot.

It is the development of engaging characters and twisty turning adrenaline-filled plots that Colfer does best. Although the characters currently lack the depth of those in Artemis Fowl, this is the first in what I imagine will be a new series and there is time for them to develop.

Where I think the book could really take off is as an audiobook, given a highly skilled performer who can really let rip and immerse the listener into Highfire’s colourful world. As yet there is no audio extract available but Johnny Heller, billed as the book’s narrator, seems to be a good choice, as his voice potentially has the right timbre and pace to lend itself well to vocally fleshing out the characters and creating a very entertaining listening experience.

Highfire was courtesy of Jo Fletcher books via NetGalley.