You are all shocked that I’ve read this book. I’m certain of it.
A Vision of Fire: Book One of the Earthend Saga
Written by Gillian Anderson & Jeff Rovin
Published in 2014 by Simon451: an Imprint of Simon & Schuster
Every review of A Vision of Fire I’ve seen immediately compares it to The X-Files. The snarky ones hint that the book is like a novelized, slightly more new-age episode of the show. I was pretty sure that was going to be an exaggeration, and I was absolutely right.
The book is nothing like The X-Files in either content or tone. They both have supernatural elements, but that’s it. There are no aliens, no monsters, and no government conspiracies. There is a subtle romantic subplot, if that counts.
The plot runs thus: Caitlin is a psychologist. Her friend Ben is a translator for the UN, and he contacts her because the Indian ambassador’s daughter is having trouble no one understands. This is especially bad timing for all involved because the political situation in Kashmir is running out of control. As she begins to treat Maanik, Caitlin realizes that she is not suffering from trauma or mental illness. Maanik is being attacked by forces unseen—and she’s not the only person who needs Caitlin’s help.
There were two things about A Vision of Fire that made it a compelling read for me. One was the vivid characterization of the supporting characters, from the independent-thinking daughter of the Indian ambassador, to the Haitian aspiring nurse, to the Iranian student. Their differences in culture and religion were treated with dignity and respect: in one scene Caitlin (a white, wealthy American) oversteps her bounds in questioning Haitian culture, and is called out on it.
The other thing I liked about the novel is Caitlin herself. She is independent, rebellious, and immensely loving. She’s willing to travel anywhere in the world, no matter how dangerous the political situation, on the off chance of being able to help someone. The maternal protectiveness she feels for her patients and her son is visceral and ferocious. Her defiance against the forces she still doesn’t fully understand bleeds over into the reader—we don’t truly know what has attacked Maanik and the others any more than Caitlin does, but we are just as determined to stop it.
In terms of a trilogy, the ending of A Vision of Fire was surprisingly neat. There are a few lingering questions about the the supernatural element, but not about the central characters; this book could have stood on its own, which makes me curious about the development of the rest of the series.
Final Verdict: A very enjoyable, addictive beach-or-bathtub book with good representation and a creepy mystery. Also it was written by Gillian Anderson, so it’s obviously worth your time.
Special Guest Review from My Cat, His Fuzziness Renji Arthur Ollivander Lee Shepler
You can call him Renji for short.
I rate this book 9.5 out of 10. My human is very clever (as humans go) and loves to read, but she rarely does so for more than an hour at a time. This book kept her happy and occupied for many hours at a stretch. I was able to curl up on her lap and sleep for three hours without getting jostled. It was glorious. Sometimes books upset her so much that I have to drop everything and soothe her with purrs. That didn’t happen with this book, which was a relief. I’m only docking it .5 points because there were a few plot twists that made her gasp or shout—which startled me—and because she got so engrossed that I had trouble getting her attention. However these minor annoyances are to be expected when taking on a human companion, so it’s probably not the book’s fault. Incidentally, the paperback edition is fairly light and can be batted aside or sat upon as needed. My human also tells me there is both a cat and dog character in it, so the authors clearly knew what they were doing.