VH Folland's Fire Season Reviewed By Norm Goldman of Bookpleasures.com
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Author: VH Folland
Publisher: Ragged Angel Ltd
Unfortunately, every year millions of hectares of the world's forest are destroyed by fires. The result is loss of life, extensive environmental damage, widespread economic losses, loss of livelihoods, and not to be omitted, the psychological trauma that many have to endure in trying to put back their lives to a resemblance of normalcy. To combat these fires, a wide variety of helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft as well as other aerial resources are utilized, however, it is probably very rare where crop sprayers are called upon to help put out the fires.
VH Folland's debut novel, Fire Season, spins a riveting tale around a crop sprayer pilot and an informal group of volunteer firefighters that have access to only one small airstrip. These brave and daring souls join the battle against uncontrollable forest fires using the most unconventional aircraft to stave off the impending disasters in and around a hamlet called Brooke Vale, that could have been anywhere in the world. It all happens during the hot month of August when there was no let up to the scorching heat, and when the flames have combustible vegetation to feed on, the fires rapidly grow out of control in the countryside or wilderness areas.
Initially, no one was too concerned about the fires reaching the town itself, as in its hundred and twenty year history Brooke's Vale had never burned. The hamlet was sheltered in a valley, “the bedrock close to the surface, the prevailing wind blew in from the coast to the north. Threatening fires were always blow south, away from the Vale.” As we are to discover, however, the inhabitants were relying on false hopes that were soon to change. And the worst part was the waiting around and speculating what will happen and pondering the various scenarios. In addition, there was the witnessing of neighbors and friends being trapped by the fires, the displacement of families running for their lives and seeking out safe localities, blocked roads, fallen tress, loss of all communications including land line and mobile phones, radio and TV, and even the despicable act of arson-not a pretty situation to be trapped in.
Folland's yarn is related through first-person accounts that are contributed by various characters resulting in a potpourri of multiple perspectives of events, all presented vividly with an abundance of suspense that will have you glued to your seats as we go along for quite a treacherous and turbulent ride. It is a poignant and harrowing drama peopled with a kaleidoscope of vivid individuals and filled with compelling details, (even though there is a fair degree of artistic license), as Folland balances the horror of forest fires with lifelike insights into the behavior of those who are forced to protect their own lives and the lives of others. Thanks to the expertly voiced narration, the author's story-telling gifts are strongly in evidence, particularly in his masterly evocation of time, place and events that will haunt readers long after the book has been put to rest.