If there's one thing that can be said about Gillian Anderson, it's that she's a multi-talented lady. My first thought when I saw the book cover was "oh, she's got the same name as the famous actress" so it was quite a surprise to learn that it is actually her (although I have no idea how the writing tandem with Jeff Rovin worked and how much input she actually had). I watched Gillian Anderson avidly when she starred in X Files back in the nineties and more recently in The Fall (funnily enough I have a review of the DVD coming up very soon) but I was intrigued to see if she'd be able to write good fiction.
The book is quite complicated to explain because, even as you're reading it, you're not always sure exactly what is going on, but this does mean that you're in the same boat as the central characters ! The main protagonist is Caitlin O' Hara, a child psychologist who is called in to discreetly help the anguished teenaged daughter of an Indian diplomat who appears to be suffering from some kind of post traumatic stress after an assassination attempt on her father. Caitlin uses hypnosis to get a deeper understanding of what is troubling the girl and discovers a strange parellel universe, with unknown languages and symbols, along with - as the title portends - a vision of fire, maybe an earthquake or a volcano erupting causing mass death and destruction. While this could be written off as psychosis or a resultof the trauma, troubling similarities become apparent in two new cases, in Haiti and Iran. As well as helping her young patient, Caitlin needs to work out how three young people who are totally geographically removed from each other could be experiencing the same visions and trauma.
As the X Files tagline famously taunted, "the truth is out there", but it could be in the pre-Ice Age Anarctic continent or even on some paranormal plane that Caitlin and her patient can glimpse. Strange animal behaviour and a mysterious secret club collecting mystical artefacts from around the world just add to the sense of something big and unknown going on above and beyond what our human brains can comprehend.
It's an interesting read, even if, at times, some of it seemed just a bit too fanciful. I felt that there were quite a few loose ends but this is book one of a new saga so they will presumably be picked up in the subsequent tomes.
Fans of Gillian Anderson but also paranormal/science fiction-lovers will definitely enjoy discovering the series. It's a fast paced, exciting plot that hints at numerous genres - historical, anthropological, medical, metaphysical, conspiracy theory ... - so it should appeal to a broad range of readers.
star rating : 3.5/5
RRP : £12.99
Disclosure : I received a review copy of the book.
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