The Fireman
by Joe Hill

Overview -

From the award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of NOS4A2 and Heart-Shaped Box comes a chilling novel about a worldwide pandemic of spontaneous combustion that threatens to reduce civilization to ashes and a band of improbable heroes who battle to save it, led by one powerful and enigmatic man known as the Fireman.  Read more...

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More About The Fireman by Joe Hill

From the award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of NOS4A2 and Heart-Shaped Box comes a chilling novel about a worldwide pandemic of spontaneous combustion that threatens to reduce civilization to ashes and a band of improbable heroes who battle to save it, led by one powerful and enigmatic man known as the Fireman.

The fireman is coming. Stay cool.

No one knows exactly when it began or where it originated. A terrifying new plague is spreading like wildfire across the country, striking cities one by one: Boston, Detroit, Seattle. The doctors call it Draco Incendia Trychophyton. To everyone else it s Dragonscale, a highly contagious, deadly spore that marks its hosts with beautiful black and gold marks across their bodies before causing them to burst into flames. Millions are infected; blazes erupt everywhere. There is no antidote. No one is safe.

Harper Grayson, a compassionate, dedicated nurse as pragmatic as Mary Poppins, treated hundreds of infected patients before her hospital burned to the ground. Now she s discovered the telltale gold-flecked marks on her skin. When the outbreak first began, she and her husband, Jakob, had made a pact: they would take matters into their own hands if they became infected. To Jakob s dismay, Harper wants to live at least until the fetus she is carrying comes to term. At the hospital, she witnessed infected mothers give birth to healthy babies and believes hers will be fine too. . . if she can live long enough to deliver the child.

Convinced that his do-gooding wife has made him sick, Jakob becomes unhinged, and eventually abandons her as their placid New England community collapses in terror. The chaos gives rise to ruthless Cremation Squads armed, self-appointed posses roaming the streets and woods to exterminate those who they believe carry the spore. But Harper isn't as alone as she fears: a mysterious and compelling stranger she briefly met at the hospital, a man in a dirty yellow fire fighter s jacket, carrying a hooked iron bar, straddles the abyss between insanity and death. Known as The Fireman, he strolls the ruins of New Hampshire, a madman afflicted with Dragonscale who has learned to control the fire within himself, using it as a shield to protect the hunted . . . and as a weapon to avenge the wronged.

In the desperate season to come, as the world burns out of control, Harper must learn the Fireman s secrets before her life and that of her unborn child goes up in smoke."
“Hill has a talent for depicting fascinating characters caught in terrible situations. . . . With a full cast of characters and multiple story lines to keep the reader hooked, Hill’s enthralling fourth thriller hits another home run.”
—Library Journal (starred review) on THE FIREMAN

“A good writer can make you think or feel, but a great writer does both in the service of story. Joe Hill is a great writer. The Fireman is a tour de force of imagination, grounded by beautiful writing and attention to the human heart. It’s a gripping, haunting saga that further establishes Hill as one of the finest storytellers as work today.”

—Michael Koryta, New York Times bestselling author of THOSE WHO WISH ME DEAD on THE FIREMAN

“Horror is too simplistic a word for Joe Hill’s new novel, but there’s no denying it makes the skin crawl like a worm on a hot rock. It’s as much fantasy-thriller as a descent into the maelstrom, but no matter how you label it, what makes it work best is that it is a novel of well-defined characters...Joe Hill’s NOS4A2 is a brilliant exploration of classic and modern monsters and dark fantasties, all cut up, restitched and retooled, sliding you along as if you’re cruising way too fast in a rusty old Cadillac down a dark, twisty road with no lights, bald tires and no hands on the wheel. Watch out for pot holes. They’re deep. With this novel, riveting from beginning to end, Joe Hill has become a master of his craft.”

—Publishers Weekly on NOS4A2

“Quite simply the best horror writer of our generation, Joe Hill’s masterful storytelling is on full display in NOS4A2. It is by turns terrifying and hilarious, horrifying and full of heart, and relentlessly compelling. Hill writes with grace and depth but never at the expense of propulsion, and much like the story’s menacing Rolls-Royce, there’s a powerful engine always humming beneath the dark beauty of his prose. If you enjoy watching the best get better, I suggest you crack the cover - and cancel the rest of your plans for the day.”

—Michael Koryta, New York Times Bestselling author of THE PROPHET on NOS4A2

“A genuinely scary novel filled with people you care about; the kind of book that still stays in your mind after you’ve turned over the final page. I loved it unreservedly.”


“Horns by Joe Hill is so crazy that it’s great—a hell of a ride (no pun intended) that will keep you up until three in the morning...[it is] richly entertaining, relentlessly suspenseful, with compelling characters. Although Horns is extremely gripping, Joe Hill proves once again that he is a horror writer for intellectuals...Part of the appeal of the novel is its dark humor and unremitting wit of its prose. But here’s the really good part: You will be shocked. You will laugh. And if you are like me, you will even cry.”

—Huffington Post on HORNS

“[T]he collection should establish its author as a major player in 21st-century fantastic fiction. Hill’s subject matter is steeped in the pop culture and tabloid detritus of the last 50 years...Hill’s best stories veer away from the well-trodden creep shows and back alleys of genre writing into more dangerous territory: suburban basements, ball fields and schoolyards.”

—Washington Post on 20th CENTURY GHOSTS

  • ISBN-13: 9780062200631
  • ISBN-10: 0062200631
  • Publisher: William Morrow & Co
  • Publish Date: May 2016
  • Page Count: 752
  • Dimensions: 2 x 6.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds

Related Categories

Books > Fiction > Horror - General
Books > Fiction > Psychological

BookPage Reviews

The woman with the Dragonscale tattoo

Draco Incendia Trychophyton—also known as Dragonscale—is a deadly spore that causes people to spontaneously combust. Theories on its origin range from the melting ice caps to biological weaponry to a simple evolutionary turn. Elaborate—beautiful, even—black and gold tattoo-like markings identify those who are infected. Because there is often no warning before a person ignites and there is no cure, paranoia and hysteria spread like, well, wildfire. Eventually, cities burn and civil order dissolves, with ruthless and sinister Quarantine Patrols and Cremation Crews driving the infected into hiding. 

The titular character of Joe Hill’s fourth novel (following, most recently, NOS4A2), John Rookwood, is not an actual fireman, but a mysterious, charismatic Englishman. He wears a firefighter’s uniform because it not only hides his markings, but also allows him to be in the open without arousing suspicion. The heart of the book, though, is Harper Grayson, an elementary school nurse with compassion, gumption and an affinity for Mary Poppins. Harper is infected, frightened, alone and pregnant when John leads her to an underground community of infected folk who show her that it is possible to live in harmony with the spore. Soon, though, it becomes clear that safety does not always lie in numbers and that there is as much to fear inside the camp as outside.

With plenty of pop-culture references and playfully meta moments (like when characters discuss what they would do if they were in a movie or book), The Fireman is a bona fide, post-apocalyptic page-turner that’s equal parts touching and pulse-pounding, surprising and awe-inducing. The icing on the metaphorical cake? Easter eggs referencing his father Stephen King’s works—ranging from Hill’s use of “shine” as a verb of the supernatural variety to one character murderously swinging a shovel “like a croquet mallet”—pepper the book, delighting this fan of both writers.


This article was originally published in the May 2016 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

BAM Customer Reviews