Relight My Fire by C.K. McDonnell | Book Reviews | Speculative Fiction
Relight My Fire by C.K. McDonnell

By Mairéad Hearne (Swirl and Thread)

Relight My Fire by C.K. McDonnell

Relight My Fire by C.K. McDonnell is the fourth book in the ‘acclaimed and brilliantly funny’ Stranger Times series and published with Bantam (Transworld). It really is no trade secret that I am a huge fan of this highly entertaining Irish writer. Caimh (C.K.) McDonnell first came to my attention when I read his Dublin Trilogy with the infamous Cork cop Bunny McGarry and I’ve been on the sideline since as a massive supporter of his work. I have reviewed most of Caimh’s work with the most recent being The Stranger Times, This Charming Man and Love Will Tear Us Apart, the first three books in this series.

The Stranger Times series is set in Manchester and you may well notice that three are named after songs, with bands, The Smiths, Joy Division and Take That, all originating in Manchester. Also you should look up The Stranger Times Newspaper online, as Caimh has created an actual wacky paper, consolidating his dedication to these books and to his trade!

Vincent Banecroft is editor-in-chief at The Stranger Times, a Manchester-based newspaper dedicated to the weird and utterly deranged, but also with an underlying purpose. Attracting a wonderfully eclectic workforce, The Stranger Times produces a weekly newspaper featuring a slew of far-out tales with a spooky slant. These tales are primarily reporting the wacky goings on in the lives and imagination of some folk but hidden among them are truths. These truths, if revealed, could seriously damage the world as we know it…

McDonnell has created a modern society that is kept in order by other-worldly beings. These others are living amongst the ordinary but have extraordinary talents. When portals are cracked or when the eccentricities of some people stray too far, it is these others that maintain the status quo and prevent mayhem from breaking out. The balance is delicate and The Stranger Times newspaper is central to order being maintained and disorder being kept under wraps.

Banecroft and his crew have seen too much to be shocked by what they witness but in Relight My Fire they are about to face a new nemesis with a hunger for power and a desire to be infamous. Vincent Banecroft was a has-been in journalistic terms. He is angry, complicated and a very challenging employer, yet his team are loyal and are always on-hand to assist. A fearless and gutsy bunch the staff of The Stranger Times include, among others, Stella, a young woman with a special, but untamed, power, a naked Rastafarian with issues, a religious and law-abiding receptionist and Hannah, Banecroft’s right-hand woman.

Stella is living under a constant threat, so the rest of the team are very protective of her. Now attending college, Stella is trying to live a normal(ish) life until a body drops out of the sky landing at her feet. This inexplicable act is the beginning of a trail that leads Stella and the team down a very dark and sinister rabbit-hole. Banecroft has his own stand-off with a deathly pilgrim that links back to a previous case. His time on earth could have a very hellish ending if he doesn’t complete a very strange request in an allotted time frame. Are you still with me?

I love the absolutely brilliantly batty nature of this series. I think it’s fair to say that McDonnell’s imagination has no limits whatsoever. With his comedic background, his wit never lets up, even in the darkest of moments, producing vivid and riotous scenes with outrageous characters and top-notch dialogue. I don’t normally veer toward urban fantasy but I will always make an exception when it’s written by ‘the white-haired Irishman’ that is C.K. McDonnell.

Relight My Fire is the fourth book in this series and I’m guessing (hoping) that there will be more. Pure entertainment and escapism, this series just keeps on giving. You can read each book in its own right but I do recommend that, as Julie Andrews says in The Sound of Music, that you ‘start at the very beginning. A very good place to start’

Relight My Fire by C.K. McDonnellUnconventional characters, bizarre scenarios and cracking banter are just three of the ingredients that make up this series. Offbeat and imaginative Relight My Fire is another outstanding addition to this fantastic series.

(c) Mairéad Hearne (Swirl and Thread)

Order your copy online here.

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