#BookReview Flames by Robbie Arnott

About the book

A young man named Levi McAllister decides to build a coffin for his twenty-three-year-old sister, Charlotte—who promptly runs for her life. A water rat swims upriver in quest of the cloud god. A fisherman named Karl hunts for tuna in partnership with a seal. And a father takes form from fire. 

The answers to these riddles are to be found in this tale of grief and love and the bonds of family, tracing a journey across the southern island that takes us full circle.

Flames sings out with joy and sadness. Utterly original in conception, spellbinding in its descriptions of nature and its celebration of the power of language, it announces the arrival of a thrilling new voice in contemporary fiction.

Published by Atlantic Books

Purchase Links

Book Depository  £11.34

hive.co.uk  £9.75

Waterstones  £12.99


I have found myself totally mesmerized by this book! A wonderful debut and very difficult to sum up, other than it was pure escapism and I was transfixed by the characters, the settings and the overall feel of the book!

It’s about a family who see female relatives return after they die only for them to burst into flames and die once again soon after. It’s about a brother caring for his sister, except she doesn’t interpret it that way and runs away to deal with her own adventures. Its about a man called Karl connecting with nature, hunting with his seal, coping with family life and haunted by things he sees.

It’s a book written in a variety of styles – from first person views, to letters between an author and Levi seeking help, poignant thoughts of an Esk god being caught by an ape, and to diary entries from a Ranger on a farm estate seeing wombats being killed on a daily basis and trying to get to the basis of why.

At times this book is utterly bonkers and I think that is why it made it so brilliant for me as a reader. You honestly didn’t know where the story would lead to next, the language is spellbinding and intoxicating and it combines the natural world with the magical elements of fairytales, whilst dealing with families and grief and how it affects people so differently.

This is a very special debut and I cannot wait to see what the author creates next!

My thanks to Readers First for the copy in return for a fair and honest review.