The Wildfire Season Paperback – Apr 1 2008
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Miles McEwan lives alone in the town of Ross River at the end of the road in the Yukon. As bush fire chief, he has a crew of five, including his best friend, Mungo, and several other local characters. Miles's past is written on his face in the form of a serious scar he acquired in a wildfire a few years earlier, during which he was unable to save a young firefighter whose presence he sometimes now hallucinates. His bitter past also includes his girlfriend, Alex, who he was about to marry and then abandoned, and his unknown child, Rachel, now five. Alex has spent the past five summers looking for Miles across the Canadian West. One day she and Rachel walk into the local hotel bar and there he is. Miles, tough and angry, isn't sure he wants to start up again, while Alex longs to make him suffer by letting him fall in love with Rachel and then taking her away. Because he has slept with the Métis tracker, Margot, Miles has acquired a local enemy in her nasty boyfriend Wade. Everything comes to a head when a minor fire quickly goes out of control.
At times, The Wildfire Season is a white-hot read, although the drawn-out climax brings together too many variables, as the long-suffering Miles is hunted by the fire, Wade, and a grizzly all at the same time. Pyper writes well ("in the salt and pepper haze that counts for dawn on a fire site") but sections that give the grizzly's view prove absurdly anthropomorphic. However, the characters are fully, tragically human, and the fire lore is magnificent. --Mark Frutkin --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From Publishers Weekly
Set in Ross River, a tiny Canadian Yukon settlement, Pyper's subtle thriller develops a sense of dread more from the menace of uncontrollable forest fires and lurking grizzlies than the human predator who remains anonymous until the end. The local fire chief, Miles McEwan, is a loner whose hidden past is revealed when Alex, his vengeful former lover, arrives in Ross River with their five-year-old daughter, Rachel. Meanwhile, a retired executive and his wife come to town for a grizzly hunt, and it's wildfire season. As several fires combine to threaten Ross River's stubbornly independent inhabitants, the firefighters, the hunting party and the bears, an individual is plotting murder. Pyper (Lost Girls) writes beautifully about the splendor and dangers of the wilderness. He doesn't anthropomorphize, but his understanding of bears and fire imbues both with a life force. A bestseller in Canada, this novel offers excellent pacing and credible characters, though readers should be prepared for some horrific violence. (Dec.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
All of the author's characters recount in their own words this tragic, endearing and heartbreaking tale. Even the grizzle bear is given human characteristics. I found the first part to be a bit slow and obscure, the multi- faceted narration distracted me, but as the story progressed, the writing flowed beautifully. The suspense and intrigue intensified when Mr Pyper's characters described the chaos of fighting forest fires and how they affect the people and the surrounding environment. Through his words, the author successfully painted an outstanding vision of the landscape, giving us an insight into the dangers and perils, as well as the benefits of living in the wilderness. He has softened the tone by injecting some tender moments.
The Wildfire Season is a very complex psychological thriller, one with a touch of mystic and one with a lasting impression.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Lead firefighter Miles McEwan has finally retreated to the furthest corner of the world where he can exist on a minimum of commitment, his body half-clear, half-scarred by a fire that almost took his life along with his future. Marriage plans with Alex abruptly shattered by a psyche damaged as deeply inside as outside, Miles chose to run from a situation that overwhelmed him. Now, five years later, the smoky gloom of the bar is severed by a slice of sunlight and the entrance of a woman and a little girl, hand in hand. After five summers of searching, Alex has found Miles, come for her day of reckoning, their daughter's hand held in her fierce grip. Miles realizes the time has come to face the consequences of what he thought was pride, but is really cowardice, at least in Alex's eyes.
In this place, at this time, everything comes together, a long-time feud between a local guide, Wade, and Miles. Wade and Miles are eerily similar, except one has crossed the boundaries of a Faustian bargain, the other not yet committed to a soulless existence. As Alex bravely confronts Miles, purified by her anger, Rachel, her daughter, touches Miles' scarred face lovingly; elsewhere, a grizzly sow and her pups are trapped by Wade and his partner's wealthy hunter, setting yet another critical element of the drama in motion. Miles searches desperately for redemption, for one more chance as the ferocity of nature threatens, the world made small in a battle to survive the flames one more time. In wonderful, insightful prose, Pyper delivers on every count, man against nature and a formidable enemy to find his finer self. Luan Gaines/2008.
However, this particular season is going be even more chaotic than any Miles can remember. His angry bitter former lover Alex and their five-year-old daughter Rachel have arrived in town; he does not want to see them because they would see him and what has become of him. There is also a bear hunting expedition that is foolish at a time when several fires nearby are blazing. When these separate conflagrations consolidate, the town is endangered. While Miles is distracted by his ex and the inferno, someone sees an opportunity to use the grizzly hunters and the fires to commit murder.
THE WILDFIRE SEASON is a terrific descriptive look at the dangers of the wilderness used as great background to a fine thriller. The fire scenes are superbly described so that the audience will feel the heat and peril facing heroes. Miles is a solid protagonist who wants no human contact except for his bartender serving him drinks, his firefighting team only in an official capacity, and rescues. The murder subplot augments a tense graphic tale that hooks readers from start to finish.
In trying to escape his past, loner Miles McEwan settled in Ross River, Canada, following a fire that burned his body and scarred his soul. Leaving his former life meant giving up a medical career and the love of his life.
Miles's five years of respite from the world is about to end. It's the wildfire season in the Yukon. A fire is ignited and as a result, the lives of strangers intersect--Miles's former lover, Alex, and her five-year-old daughter--and bear hunters. Someone is planning and carrying out murder!
Andrew Pyper is a writer to watch. His prose is taut, his stories complex and exciting and his characters fully developed. He deftly handles the psychological issues of Miles, understands Alex, and seems to have knowledge about animal life and mixes is all up with the brutality of a wildfire.
Armchair Interviews says: You'll have a difficult time putting this novel down.