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“You are about to learn what happens when you poke a dragon.”

Eoin Colfer (pronounced Owen) crafted the bestselling Artemis Fowl young adult series, in addition to zany hardboiled detective lore, PLUGGED and SCREWED. Colfer’s return to adult fiction somewhat combines the subtle horror of Dave Zeltserman’s THE CARETAKER OF LORNE FIELD, the witty crime-humor of Rob Leininger’s Gumshoe series, and the intense paramilitary intrigue by New York Times bestselling author John Gilstrap.

A modern-day Huckleberry Finn, Everett “Squib” Moreau projects “a scrappy attitude that had him on the cops’ radar.” At age 15, he’s “a swamp-wild, street-smart, dark-eyed Cajun-blood young man with a momma driven to near despair.”

"Thronged with dragon-sized metaphors, Peter Pan fans will adore the cheeky imagery and characters in this irreverent fantasy."

Squib films a surreptitious image of refrigerator-sized Constable Regence Hooke strong-arming a bayou moonshine runner to use as leverage. “Ain’t nuthin’ can go wrong.” But it does. Big time. The video records murder. Squib plays “fast and loose with the second commandment,” his blasphemous vocal cords calling out a few other choice expletives. Oops! The big cop has big ears.

Hooke sees “a figure hightail it into the island with the green glow of a phone in his hand” and must eradicate the threat. He lobs an incendiary device at the isle. Boom! The blast attracts Wyvern, Lord Highfire of the Highfire Eyrie.

Squib is airlifted from certain death, in “what could be fairly described as a supersonic wedgie.” But come on! By a fire-breathing Gojira-like apex predator dragon who wears a Flashdance T-shirt and sips Absolut martinis?

“Vern hates humans, hates them big-time.” Isolation and vodka cause depression in the near-extinct dragon: “I don’t wanna go out and I don’t wanna stay in.” Benevolent when needed, he “did his best Jack Nicholson for the only squirrel on the island with enough nuts to sit on his windowsill.” One whiff of dragon breath could roast the rodent’s acorns. “Vern carried hell around inside him, so he could survive it.”

Thronged with dragon-sized metaphors, Peter Pan fans will adore the cheeky imagery and characters in this irreverent fantasy. Instead of Captain Hook, there’s Constable Hooke. Karma seems to be a character. Dastardly deeds come back to bite Hooke --- and not figuratively. This is Squib’s coming-of-age tale, the boy who does grow up. A huge high five to HIGHFIRE.

Walt Disney Pictures will release a film version of Artemis Fowl in May 2020. Hopefully, HIGHFIRE is destined for sequels and a film adaptation. Please?’s Dean Murphy was born during the Chinese zodiac’s significant sign, Water Dragon.

Reviewed by L. Dean Murphy on January 31, 2020

by Eoin Colfer

  • Publication Date: January 5, 2021
  • Genres: Fantasy, Fiction, Humor
  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial
  • ISBN-10: 0062938576
  • ISBN-13: 9780062938572