Island on fire by Sophie Schiller
Name of Book: Island on FireAuthor: Sophie Schiller
Publisher: Self published
Type of book: 1902, Caribbean, Martinique, Mount Pelee, exploding volcano, survival, plantation, voodoo, money, finances, politics, reform, lack of common sense
Year it was published: 2018
"A memorable romantic thriller. Schiller nicely balances history and fiction.” -Publishers Weekly
In the lush, tropical world of Martinique where slavery is a distant memory and voodoo holds sway, Emilie Dujon discovers that her fiancé, a rich sugar planter, has been unfaithful. Desperate to leave him, she elicits the aid of a voodoo witch doctor and is lured into a shadowy world of black magic and extortion. When the volcano known as Mount Pelée begins to rumble and spew ash, she joins a scientific committee sent to investigate the crater. During the journey she meets Lt. Denis Rémy, an army officer with a mysterious past.
At the summit, the explorers discover that a second crater has formed and the volcano appears to be on the verge of eruption. But when they try to warn the governor, he orders them to bury the evidence for fear of upsetting the upcoming election. As the pressure builds, a deadly mudslide inundates Emilie’s plantation and she disappears. With ash and cinders raining down, chaos ensues. Left with no choice, Lt. Rémy deserts his post and sets off on a desperate quest to rescue Emilie. But with all roads blocked, can they escape the doomed city of St. Pierre before it’s too late?
Main characters include Emilie Dujon a descendant of the beka family who lives in a struggling plantation and who is forced to marry against her will. She is intelligent, determined and doesn't let anything get in her way. However she is naive and when it comes to family, she doesn't have strong support system. There is also Denis Remy, a soldier who has had a bad reputation and must redeem himself even when it comes to matters of life and death. He is honorable , scrupulous and must often follow commands even when they pain him.
History can repeat itself, there are no absolute guarantees
The story is in third person narrative mostly from Emilies and Denis' points of view. Originally it begins few weeks before the famous eruption, when Emilie Dujon learns a very ugly truth about her fiance to be: that he is a philandering social climber who only desires land and that he has no compassion or understanding of Emilie. Then the story continues on to the week of the eruption with very despicable characters being in charge of safety. Meanwhile the life of Martinique prior to eruption is tied up to volcano erupting and voodoo.
Sophie Schiller was born in Paterson, NJ and grew up in the West Indies. SHe loves stories that carry the reader back in time to exotic and far-flung locations. Kirkus Reviews called her "an accmplished thriller and historical adventure writer." she graduated from American University, Washington D.C. and lives in Brooklyn N.Y.
I will be honest: I think this was my first trip to Martinique in book, especially during Mount Pelee eruption, and it's a heady trip too! I am not sure if I knew anything about Mount Pelee prior to this book, but I did know about few volcano eruptions, namely the famous one of Mount Vesuvius almost 2,000 years ago, and I recall hearing about Mount Krakatoa too as well as the effects that volcano eruptions have had on nations far from them. I think the first thing I thought about are the similarities between a Mount Vesuvius YA novel I read and this book, namely that people thought they weren't active volcanos and were extinct. Yet the cultures of the two port cities are very distinct and fascinating, especially the voodoo parts which I have greatly enjoyed.
This is for France book tour
4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)