Saturday, December 2, 2023

Above the Fire

Above the Fire by Michael O'Donnell
12/5/23; 256 pages
Blackstone Publishing

Above the Fire by Michael O'Donnell is a highly recommended novel about a father and son relationship in a dystopian situation.

Doug, a middle-aged widower, and Tim, his seven-year-old son, are on a late season backpacking hike through the White Mountains of New Hampshire. The trip is to introduce Tim to hiking outdoors an activity his father and mother used to enjoy. The trip is going well for father and son when something happens in the world. All communication is lost and there are fires reported in the towns below. They later learn at the Mt. Washington ranger station some limited news: a massive cyber attack on infrastructure that has resulted in violence breaking out, looting, and perhaps war. Doug decides it would be safer for them to wait things out through the winter at Madison Spring hut.

Above the Fire is an introspective, reserved, and thoughtful dystopian that moves beyond the rumored chaos hitting the world off the mountain. The writing is very good in this debut novel. It is a quick, compelling read that establishes a hopeful tone during a difficult and stressful situation.

The relationship between father and son and their survival is the essential focus of the novel. Both Doug and Tim are portrayed as realistic characters. Doug is especially fully realized in his role as a father protecting and caring for his son while battling nature as the unknown hits the USA. He and his son bond together and experience some healing during their time together on the mountain.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Blackstone Publishing via NetGalley.

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