Fire on Headless Mountain by Iain Lawrence

            Fire on Headless Mountain by Iain Lawrence, Margaret Ferguson Books/Holiday House, 2022. 9780823446544

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5+

Format: Hardcover

Genre: Thriller/Mystery

What did you like about the book?  Eleven-year-old Virgil, his sister Kaitlyn, 15 and brother Joshua, 19, are driving to their mother’s favorite spot, Little Lost Lake, to spread her ashes.  They are traveling in an old camper van, Rusty.  Their father was too saddened to accompany them. With at least 40 miles to go, Rusty breaks down.  No cell phone service and they are on a pretty decrepit, barely traveled dirt road.  At night they hear loud piercing screams.  What are they?  Josh goes to investigate, running back to the trailer in fear as something unseen chases him.  They have very little food and almost no water as everyone forgot to pack it.  When Kaitlyn falls out of a tree, breaking her ankle, Josh hikes out to try and find help.  Smart and industrious, Virgil is sure he can fix Rusty; he has learned so much from his scientist Mom and super fix-it uncle.  Then a tremendous storm blows up, lightning strikes creating an all-encompassing forest fire.  There are scary, mysterious sounds emanating from the forest. Three people, two of them children, are fighting for their lives, one with a broken ankle.  Virgil, in particular, is an amazing, fully-fleshed out character full of memories from his mother and the extraordinary person she was. Josh and Kaitlyn hold their own. The tension is palpable; it is quite impossible to put this one down. All three characters present as white.

Anything you did not like about the book? Absolutely nothing.

To whom would you recommend this book? This story cannot be beat for unsurpassed suspense, action, adventure and thrills.  Reluctant readers might be a good choice.  A classroom read aloud, too.

Who should buy this book? Elementary school and public libraries

Where would you shelve it? J Fiction

Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes!

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Katrina Yurenka, Retired Librarian, Contributor, Youth Services Book Review

Date of Review:   September 26, 2022

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