Fire Child (1987) - Rediscovered classic published 23 March 2017

Fire Child masterfully examines the nature of evil and what it means to be human. Its dark heroine is Tessa, who from the age of 12 uses the power of her smile to seduce men, with damaging and dramatic consequences. The novel alternates her cool and shocking diaries with those of Martin Sherman, a dangerous young man who likes to play with fire. Both are hiding, leading deliberately dull lives in north London, afraid of what they have already done – and what they are capable of. But when they meet, everything changes. This is Lolita from the point of view of Lolita, and this Lolita has bigger ambitions.

 ‘First Published in 1987 and now reissued, this is a terrific thriller featuring two morally twisted but darkly fascinating protagonists. Tessa is a cold-hearted seductress who uses her sexual allure to toy with men, while Martin is an equally destructive pyromaniac. When the two meet, sparks fly.' Mail on Sunday

‘Tessa and Martin are depicted through their respective diaries. Mutual attraction is instantaneous when they meet, and with the combination of her precocious sexuality and his pyromaniac tendencies, they leave a trail of devastation. Moving back and forth between the diaries, and mingling past and present, the narrative creates a mounting tension in this frightening and exciting novel.' Sunday Times

 ‘A taut, beautifully constructed story moving simply but inexorably towards its cataclysmic ending.' Sunday Times

'This is not a novel to start late at night, not only because it's scary. The trouble with Sally Emerson's bonfire of a book is that it demands to be read it one gulp, from its deadpan beginning ('I have gingery hair and no money, and bad habits like eating cold baked beans out of the tin') to its demonic end. Sleeplessness ensures. You could perhaps call it a true romance, except that the lovers are a pyromaniac and a nymphomaniac and their affair, touching though it is, leaves several corpses in its wake ... The sexual politics of Fire Child run from the extravagant to the outrageous ... This is a bravura performance.' Philip Oakes, Daily Mail

Fire Child 'pulsates with lust, grief and revenge. In spite of the contemporary setting it has the immoderate quality of myth.' Victoria Glendinning

‘Compulsive, irresistible, remarkably vivid….The narrative is compulsive and the characters irresistibly chilling' Time Out

'Sally Emerson's Fire Child is about good and evil, love and desire, creation and destruction, the universe ...' Zachary Leader

'Sally Emerson has a talent for terror of the best kind; she understands obsession and hints chillingly at evil.' Nina Bawden

'Miss Emerson has again produced a book which can be read as a comedy of modern manners, a love story or a murder mystery - a rare achievement.' Literary Review

'Fire Child is a compulsive, commercial but clever and sophisticated novel, from a critically acclaimed writer.' Publishing News

'Read, too, Sally Emerson's Fire Child, a several-layered story about a woman who from the age of 12 seduces and destroys men, 184 spare, subtle pages of lust, love, violence and – hooray –  comedy.' Susan Crosland