Book Review: Brimstone (The Fire Watcher Chronicles #1)

By Kelly Gardiner

Hold onto your hats, kids of all ages; this one’s double the fun. In her new children’s fiction series, The Fire Watcher Chronicles, Kelly Gardiner introduces us to not just one period of history, but two! For someone who loves historical fiction as much as I do, this was an incredible experience.

As a writer, it is a novel to envy and admire in equal measure.

The Magic Of The Time Slip

Gardiner brings together two fundamental moments in British history, running the events parallel through the eyes of young Christopher.

Christopher lives in London. The year is 1940. His beloved city is being razed to the ground against the backdrop of World War II.

We are dropped into Christopher’s story during the Blitz when his mother, a fire fighter, sends him to take shelter from the burn above. While hiding in the bomb shelter, Christopher accidentally slips back through time to find London in the middle of another burn; the Great Fire of 1666.

Christopher knows what will happen; he learned about it in school. Though lost and confused and, no doubt, concerned for the safety of his fire-fighting mother back home, he finds it in himself to help a family rescue their possessions and to learn a little about his past along the way.

For Young Readers

By slipping back and forth through time, Gardiner assures us that Christopher is safe and able to get home, though his antics concerning fire-and-brimstone preacher Brother Blowbladder certainly leave room for delicious doubt.

Christopher’s initial confusion and growing understanding of the situation carries the reader with him. As the mystery starts to unfold, so too does the audience’s understanding of his dire situation. The tension remains high throughout the entire novel and the lovely ending is delightfully satisfying – though still leaving room for Christopher’s next adventure.

At no time does the history get in the way of the story.

Kelly Gardiner is a wonderful story teller which she proves again in this grand adventure through history. She packs a great deal into this book, with everything from magic, heroics, tragedy and reunion.

Distinguishing the language used in different time periods can be very tricky; unmasterfully handled; it can ruin a perfectly good story. Gardiner manages to smoothly distinguish the language used in both era’s; 1666 being distinctly old fashioned while the speech used in 1940 is far more modern, though still incorporates many of the colloquialisms appropriate to the time.

Children will love Brimstone for the adventure and darkness and for Christopher himself who is undoubtedly a lovable character. They will learn a great deal about the history surrounding the Blitz and the Great Fire, though the story is so much fun that learning is just a happy side effect. At no time does the history get in the way of the story.

I can’t wait for the release of the next two in the Firewatcher Chronicles – I hear Gardiner will be introducing us to Queen Boudica!

The Blurb

December 1940: Christopher Larkham finds an ancient Roman ring inscribed with a phoenix on the banks of the Thames. As he takes shelter from the firestorm of the Blitz, the ring glows, and pushing open a door, he finds himself in 1666 and facing the Great Fire of London. Fire-and-brimstone preacher, Brother Blowbladder, and his men of the Righteous Temple have prayed for the ancient gods of fire to bring flames down upon London, a city of sin. Could Christopher be their messenger? And why do the Righteous men wear the same phoenix symbol as the engraving on Christopher’s ring? 

The Fire Watcher trilogy blends time-travel, history, mystery and action into adventure as Christopher and his friends race to untangle the truth of the phoenix ring, and mysterious Righteous Temple 

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