"I feel apart from everything and a part of everything ... I wish this pain would go," he muttered. "But it's getting worse ... It's like walking with a shadow you can't shake off. And now this new vision. I can't make sense of it. All I know is it's..." He breathed heavily out. "It's something to do with the light. Something not many people can see. But you can see it. You think your biggest mystery's Josh. But it isn't. It's this other thing." from page 78
Frozen Fire by Tim Bowler simmers with crackling, heart pounding suspense right from the start as the story breathlessly sweeps you up and along in its momentum.
The story opens with a frightening phone call from a mysterious and strange boy who wants to die and who knows things about Dusty that only her long disappeared brother Josh would know. For this reason Dusty thinks the boy knows more about her brother's disappearance and fate than the boy admits. The promise of getting to the boy, saving him and finding out what he knows about Josh lures Dusty out into the cold and snowy night. As she tracks the boy to a nearby park, she is confronted and chased by a trio of menacing men--a father and his two sons--who also chase the boy for far more sinister purposes. The men threaten Dusty and everyone she loves in an effort to coerce her into revealing her perceived connection to the boy and to exploit this connection in order to entrap the boy. Though Dusty doesn't even know the strange boy, she protects what little she does know of him and just how they have connected, in order to give herself a chance to track him down to find out what he knows about her brother.
When the boy contacts Dusty again over the phone, it's clear he is not a normal boy, but what or who exactly is he and what does the strange light he speaks of and that Dusty sees as well mean for her, for him and for her small village? Unfortunately, while the author excels in the suspense and thrills department, he does not excel in the department of answering questions for these are never fully resolved by book's end.
Ultimately made an outcast in her town and targeted by the bands of vigilantes bent on bringing the strange boy to justice for crimes he allegedly committed, Dusty is just as determined to shield him from police and angry mob alike. The mysterious turmoil brought about by the boy's presence and very existence steadily and wildly spins out of control as the story whips through one frightening confrontation between the angry mob of vigilantes and Dusty after another until the final frightening, breath taking showdown.
The lack of answered questions as to the boy's name and nature and what his presence means detracts considerably from the ending's impact potential. While the boy and Dusty are both clearly on journeys of their own that parallel and intersect, the story is mainly Dusty's as she seeks answers and healing for herself and her shattered family as she struggles to grasp the greater meaning of the lessons in the boy's predicament. Ultimately, Dusty receives a heartbreaking and harrowing resolution to the questions she had about her brother's disappearance and who he was as a person.
This book is available in the young adult fiction section of the Matthews Public Library and also upon request from Richland Community Library.
--Reviewed by Ms. Angie