The fireman by Joe Hill book review

Note: This is a spoiler free book review! To see the discussion post, (complete with spoilers), go here.


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.

Initial thoughts

This is the first Joe Hill book I’ve read and I was pretty excited. The plot was right up my alley! My biggest wonder was whether it needed over 700 pages to tell the story. 


I really enjoyed the writing. It was well written, simple, but with some great descriptive writing. The pace of the writing was a little slow. 


Honestly? The plot was not that unique. It followed a pretty much set pattern. The dragonscale, which is what everyone was infected with was more a backdrop for the people’s actions and reactions. It gave the scene. It’s in Harper’s viewpoint, but I think it could’ve done with a second viewpoint from someone who is uninfected, Jakob would’ve been great so we could’ve seen what was happening from their side of the pond.


After finishing it, I was surprised that, after over 700 pages, I didn’t really know the characters that much. There was enough to keep me invested in them, particularly Harper.

I loved Renee, Allie and Nick too. Some of them, while well written, felt a little cliche. You had the kindly older lady, the rebellious teen, the hero who hides his pain under a mask and a few more.

Overall thoughts

I enjoyed it. There was never a point where I was desperate to be over because it was well written. BUT. I’m struggling to see why it needed over 700 pages to tell this story. The build up often took so long that the pay off couldn’t match up to it. 

P.S Be sure to check out the pages after the book’s finished as their half a page of extra story hidden in there!

Was it worth the read? Yes

Would I re-read? No

Would I read this Author again? Yes

Flames: Flame 4 grey

Have you read it? What did you think?

Goodreads / Twitter

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13 thoughts on “The fireman by Joe Hill book review

  1. Nthato Morakabi 15/06/2016 / 12:04 pm

    I’ve been meaning to read some Joe Hill too. I’ve read his comics but not novels. One day though.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Combustible reviews 15/06/2016 / 12:17 pm

      I didn’t even know there was comics! There’s supposedly a lot of nods to
      his Dad in this book, not that I’d spot them considering I have not read any King.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Nthato Morakabi 15/06/2016 / 12:18 pm

        Haha Dad the King himself. Did you know he kept that a secret for 10 years, even his agent didn’t know his dad was Stephen King.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Combustible reviews 15/06/2016 / 2:00 pm

        Yeah, I know. I just read that in the back. I can’t blame him especially as he’s writing in the same sort of genres.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Combustible reviews 16/06/2016 / 2:56 pm

      Haha, yeah, people are saying if you love King’s books like that then you’ll like this one.


  2. Zoë 17/06/2016 / 7:54 am

    Glad to hear you enjoyed it, even though it seems that it was excessively long for what it offered. I would highly recommend checking out some of his other books.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Combustible reviews 17/06/2016 / 10:13 am

      I do plan to check out his ither books and you’re right, it was exessively. I think that’s its downfall.

      Liked by 1 person

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