Iris’s father, Ernest, is at the end of his life and she hasn’t even met him. Her best friend, Thurston, is somewhere on the other side of the world. Everything she thought she knew is up in flames.
Now her mother has declared war and means to get her hands on Ernest’s priceless art collection. But Ernest has other ideas. There are things he wants Iris to know after he’s gone. And the truth has more than one way of coming to light.
I read this on the train to and from YALC this weekend. It was a perfect read to wrap around a bookish trip away.
Iris is not a lovable character, but quite a few of us aren’t as teens. And as you find out more about her background, you begin to see why. Not that she is excused her faults or foibles, more explained. This isn’t an action or adventure story, don’t be expecting a fast pace, instead it’s an unfolding of relationships, family dynamics, loss and a form of redemption. There are plenty of quirks thrown in along the way – in some ways it feels a little like a mystery being solved, or a puzzle pieced together.
The language and imagery is really rather wonderful. This is not a book that is sparse on description, instead you’re drawn into the world Iris sees: “the chapel’s technicolour carpets looked like off-cuts from The Shining, from a shut-down Las Vegas casino”. And the characters unfold around her through her eyes, and somewhat caustic observations, as she gradually learns the truth about her life, and we get to know her almost as she gets to know herself.
The book starts with fire, death and loss, and fire is a understated theme throughout. Again, the descriptions surrounding it are incredibly immersive, as we learn how, and why, Iris’s relationship with fire might be the only constant that she has.
I didn’t guess where this story was taking us, and I won’t say anything to spoil it for anyone else. But it is a story that will stay with me I think, and I’m already contemplating a reread. This is a thoughtful exploration of a girl in crisis, and I highly recommend it.
The book is out already (see link above), but I also found a competition to win one of 5 copies of it via worldbookday here so good luck with that! (Closes 31 July 2015)
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Disclosure – Fire colour one was provided free of charge for review via Netgalley.