Wild Reading 06/07/20
Set in Keely Bay in the north of England during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, The Fire-Eaters opens with the first encounter between 11-year-old Bobby Burns and a wild-eyed, extensively tattooed performer called McNulty (the eponymous fire-eater), whose presence signals a time of apocalyptic change.
When Bobby begins a new school and endures sadistic cruelty at the hands of his new teachers, he is drawn away from his old friends and towards newcomer Daniel, who urges Bobby to stand up for what he knows is right.
Meanwhile, in the tense atmosphere of impending war, Bobby’s father is threatened with serious illness. Almond writes with great immediacy and his narrative is compelling.