An ancient ring and a doorway to the past, Sophie Whittaker
September 02, 2021
“Nobody noticed the boy who trudged wearily down the stone stairs, opened a door in the river wall, and passed into another life.”
Christopher Larkham can hear the Luftwaffe engines well before anyone else and is a first-class fire watcher during the Blitz of 1940. He would have never imagined that he could intervene between two different centuries. But when he finds a glowing ring on the mudflats of the river Thames, his life conspicuously changes and he finds himself disbelievingly witnessing the crackling flames jump from rooftop to rooftop during The Great Fire of London in 1666. Will he be able to save his friends and family or will the determined flames bring an end to the city of London?
“Christopher stared down at his hands, at the ring that circled his thumb. The ring was still warm, and getting hotter again every moment. It glowed, as if the phoenix engraved on it might take flight from the flames, as if it had lain buried in the river mud, all those centuries, waiting. Waiting for Christopher to find it and wear it and push through that door. Waiting for this moment.”
Kelly Gardiner has done a superb job of using lots of descriptive language and including lots of facts from both times in history. She uses a pronounced writing style that observes every character’s thoughts, which gets ludicrous at times. At the end of each chapter, there is a rhetorical question or statement that will leave you short of words and encourage you to continue your adventure.
Gardiner has really done her homework and although she states in the Author’s Note that nearly all the characters are fictional, there is still a lot of research that went into events and places where things happened. That is what makes the book so thrilling and real!
“The orders were clear: Set fire to London. Dead ahead on the bombing track, in a grubby classroom somewhere in the city, one boy lifted his head and listened to them come.”
Christopher constantly deals with unpredictable information and wondrous events. Funny, smart, helpful and courageous… he has all the attributes for making this book a nail biting, chucklesome banger! When facing a difficult situation, he shows no hesitation and displays unconditional kindness towards all his friends, family and even strangers and that uncovers his delightful personality.
This book is closely related to Shackleton’s Endurance: An Antarctic Survival Story because the main characters both have to deal with nature’s strongest forces with only their common sense and skills. Brimstone is for those who want to get engulfed in history, feel the heat of the flames and get scorched by the humour throughout it!
Anyone aged ten and over will be genuinely fulfilled after reading this book, and wanting to read the full, three book series of The Firewatcher Chronicles. Once lost in the compelling storyline everything around you will blur and the embers will descend down from above and your ears will shudder from the crackle of the dancing flames and Brimstone.
- Sophie goes to Awahono School on the West Coast.