Published: January 28, 2020
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Pages: 384 (Hardcover)
My Rating: 4.5/5.0
A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
From the New York Times bestselling author of the Artemis Fowl series comes a hilarious and high-octane adult novel about a vodka-drinking, Flashdance-loving dragon who lives an isolated life in the bayous of Louisiana—and the raucous adventures that ensue when he crosses paths with a fifteen-year-old troublemaker on the run from a crooked sheriff.
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.
A triumphant return to the genre-bending fantasy that Eoin Colfer is so well known for, Highfire is an effortlessly clever and relentlessly funny tour-de-force of comedy and action.
I loved this SO much! I snagged an eARC and I couldn’t resist reading the first few pages… which turned into the first 50 pages and then the whole book. It was immediately interesting and stands out from the fantasy crowd. Lord Highfire, formerly of the Highfire Eyrie is now just Vern, chubby, perennially drunk dragon who lives deep in the Louisiana bayou. He’s hiding out from the modern world, avoiding cameras, satellites, and conspiracy theorists just living his life until this kid called Squib shows up on his doorstep deeply in trouble with a bad dude.
The characters in this book are just fantastic. I mean, if you aren’t immediately intrigued by the idea of a talking dragon in the modern world who watches lots of bad tv, then we probably can’t be friends. It’s great! Squib Moreau is also quite a hoot, being a delinquent swamp kid who just can’t stay out of trouble despite how it hurts his momma. And then there’s this real piece of work named Regence Hooke, a corrupt cop who has his sights set on scoring with Squib’s momma and possible getting Squib out of the picture altogether. This is just wild and honestly I would adore seeing a wild adaptation of this somewhere where the bloody bits aren’t tamed.
You got the gist of the story reading the previous two paragraphs, but if you want a bit more detail keep on reading. Squib works odd jobs around town and whilst on the bayou, he sees Regence Hooke murder a man and overhears his plans to take over the drug highway. Regence finds out someone was listening, goes after this unknown person, and encounters something strange (Vern the dragon saving Squib). Squib and Vern work out a deal through so Squib doesn’t squeal about seeing a real live dragon and Vern has someone to bring him vodka and cereal in the middle of nowhere. Things escalate with Regence, violence ensues, and does much dark hilarity. This book was absolutely something else – it was hilarious, disturbingly reminiscent of the Swamp People tv show, and just awesome.
I would definitely recommend this to fans of unique urban fantasy, dragons, and the now-adult fans of the Artemis Fowl series. Eoin Colfer has transitioned from YA to adult fantasy with much aplomb, though that’s a pretty fancy word for a book such irreverent humor. Just read it, it’s in a league of its own and has no comparison that I can make.