Review: The Fire by John A. Heldt

Recently graduated from college, twenty-two year-old Kevin Johnson is visiting the small town of Wallace, Idaho with his family when he stumbles across a hidden diary and a cache of early 20th century gold coins in his late grandfather’s home. Kevin’s plans for a quiet summer change drastically when he discovers that the home’s old wood shed is a portal to the 1900s and the treasure was hidden away by his great-great-grandfather Asa Johnson, ancestral patriarch and apparent time-traveler. As Kevin experiments with this newfound contradiction to his years of scientific teachings, he can’t deny the reality that he’s somehow managed to set foot in Wallace circa 1910. Before he can retreat to the familiar mayhem of the twenty-first century, Kevin crosses paths with local schoolteacher Sarah Thompson and finds that he’s unable to stop thinking about the beautiful woman who lived over a century before him. Determined to find her again, Kevin puts his trust in the time portal’s consistency and travels back and forth between the centuries. But as he integrates himself in Sarah’s life and the lives of Wallace’s 20th century inhabitants, he starts to wonder if time travel is more dangerous than it first appeared. There’s the miserable Preston Pierce, a mean-spirited banker and the most powerful man in town, who’s taken an interest in taking Kevin down. Then there’s beautiful young Sadie Hawkins, a down-on-her-luck orphan who might be willing to challenge Kevin’s attachment to Sarah. Hovering ominously over his complicated escapade into the past is history itself and the knowledge that Wallace in 1910 was the victim of one of the greatest, most destructive wildfires known to man. As Kevin balances his friends and enemies in a remarkable new time he’ll have to decide how much of history he can rewrite, and what the consequences will be if he tries.

The Fire, the fourth book in author John A. Heldt’s Northwest Passage series, boasts all of the imagination and charm of its predecessors. Heldt's approach to this series has been impressive. Rather than following a more predictable format, his novels have alternated to feature two different families and their time traveling adventures – that of Joel Smith in The Mine and Shelly Preston in The Journey. I've enjoyed each of the four novels in this series immensely, but The Journey struck me with its emotional power and daring. Being its sequel, The Fire carried the same emotional pull with yet more warmth and sentiment. Here again Heldt shows his ability to not only tell stories of heartwarming friendships and romances, but of strength during incredible struggle and endurance after tragedy. What has become another hallmark for me in this series is the near guarantee of a strong cast rendered in crystal clarity through Heldt's engaging storytelling. The Fire achieves that beautifully, with perhaps some of my favorite characters in the series making their debuts. Not only are we met with a smart, effervescent female character in beautiful schoolteacher Sarah, but also in the resourceful orphan Sadie. One is confident and self-assured while the other is plagued by the weight of her own crippling self-doubt, but strength alights in both women that carries them off the page and into the hearts of their readers. Additional characters like Irish newspaperman Andy O'Connell and wealthy widow Maude Duvalier bring an extra dose of warmth and wit, while other more villainous folks carry just the right amount of drama. Meanwhile, the hero of the story and center of its love triangle, time traveler Kevin, is immensely likable and charismatic as he finds his footing over a century in the past.

Much as the Northwest Passage books stand on their own, seeing their stories intertwine as almost the entire cast made appearances in The Fire was very entertaining, and pure fun. Read alone or as part of the series, The Fire is a welcome addition to a dependable and imaginative collection of novels. It's a story that will delight readers in the magic of the world – in several eras – and bring them to both laughter and tears with its inspiring illustration of man’s timeless qualities: love, courage, and devotion.

Title: The Fire (Northwest Passage #4) Author: John A. Heldt Genre: sci-fi, romance Publisher: John A. Heldt Available Formats: e-book Release date: August 31, 2013 Source: John A. heldt (c/o) Buy the book: Kindle Connect with the author: Website/Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Shelfari

The Fire (Northwest Passage #4)