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’m a dragon fan. My sons read the Artemis Fowl books when they were younger, but I’d had no personal experience with Colfer’s books before this one. When I read the description – a vodka-drinking, Flashdance-loving dragon who lives an isolated life in the bayous of Louisiana – I didn’t care what the rest of the story was about. How many times in your life will you come across a dragon like this?
Nothing could have prepared me for Vern. He’s a curmudgeonly, northwards of 3,000-year-old, foul-mouthed dragon with a penchant for vodka and Flashdance t-shirts. He also despises humans – and with good reason. They’ve wiped out his family and friends over the centuries and forced Vern into hiding just to survive. Maybe Vern and his family took out a few (quite possibly more) villages over the years, but a dragon surely gets lonely when he’s the last of his kind.
Squib hasn’t had the easiest life either. Father figures have been practically nonexistent, and his default setting constantly steers him toward trouble, but he loves his mama and honestly wants to do better. He and Vern don’t meet under the best of circumstances, but watching their developing friendship is hilarious and heartwarming.
I laughed out loud so many times while reading this book – it’s truly a delight. It’s filled with comedy and action, but at its core are themes of acceptance, forgiveness, and family. If you’re looking for something different or maybe you’re in a reading rut, add Highfire to your list. You won’t regret it.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.