Fire in the Sea won the Text Prize in 2011. I was lucky enough to acquire an advance copy – and even to get it signed. Myke and his wife were a lot of fun to meet and talk to, and Myke (a tall and easy-going man with a good sense of humour) was touchingly unsure of his signature, working it out over the course of the evening. I’m pretty sure that the awkward, half-formed autograph in my copy will be worth millions one day: catching the moment as a new and excellent writer is born.
The book was humid: hot and slow, like the Perth weather tormenting the characters. Heavy, in an odd way. Myke doesn’t annoy the reader by using fancy-pants language, but the book is definitely literary. It reminded me of Salman Rushdie and Tim Winton – both of whom I dislike reading, but that’s still a recommendation.
The relatively slow pace and the minutiae of the scenes actually added to the tension, and I found it extremely difficult to put down (“Yes but THEN WHAT HAPPENS?!?!”) And yet it’s fantasy. It’s unusual to read fantasy that feels so much like. . . well, like real life. People say that Garth Nix writes “fantasy that feels like realism” but I assure you Fire in the Sea is something else. It REALLY feels real. Too real for my liking. I felt like I was in Perth in summer, and that’s not a place I want to be – with or without mysterious sea monsters.
If you like writing set in Australia, or writing that actually feels real, or tales of gods and ancient monsters – get this book. Read it. Love it. Buy more copies so Myke can write more.
An ordinary day on Cottesloe Beach will never be the same again.