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The Fire Eaters

CILIP Carnegie Medal, 2003

Paperback / ISBN-13: 9780340944998

Price: £7.99

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There he was, below the bridge, half-naked, eyes blazing. He had a pair of burning torches. He ran them back and forth across his skin. He sipped from a bottle, breathed across a torch, and fire and fumes leapt from his lips. The air was filled with the scent of paraffin. He breathed again, a great high spreading flag of fire. He glared. He roared like an animal.

That summer, life had seemed perfect for Bobby Burns. But now it’s autumn and the winds of change are blowing hard. Bobby’s dad is mysteriously ill. His new school is a cold and cruel place. And worse: nuclear war may be about to start. But Bobby has a wonder-working friend called Ailsa Spink. And he’s found the fire-eater, a devil called McNulty. What can they do together on Bobby’s beach? Is it possible to work miracles? Will they be able to transform the world?

A stunning novel from the author of the modern children’s classic Skellig – winner of the Carnegie Medal and the Whitbread Children’s Book Award. David Almond is also winner of the 2010 Hans Christian Andersen award.


An affecting meditation on pain, cruelty, class, belonging and the redeeming power of love.
The Sunday Times
A beautiful and brilliant novel. There really is nobody quite like Almond.
The Times
This is beautifully written and polished to a lapidary gloss.
The Guardian
A wonderful novel.
The Times
An astonishing, beautiful tale. Almond at his best.
The Daily Telegraph
A tale so marvellously told it seems a shame to label it as only for children.
The Daily Telegraph
Stays with you long after the book is closed.
The Guardian
Almond makes familiar issues fresh; his characters are finely drawn and his depiction of place perfectly realised.
The Guardian
Lyrical and atmospheric.
The Bookseller
A near-perfect piece of fiction.
Time Out
Luminous prose...every character is perfectly served by this fearless writer.
The Guardian
Subtle and energetic...a powerful and evocative study of loss.
The Times
[A] strange and haunting story.
The Observer
Once in a while a book comes along that takes over your head and your heart. [This is] such a book.
The Bookseller
Almond's best book yet...masterful in every aspect.
Financial Times
Gripping doesn't do it justice - it sweeps you up and wraps itself around you.
The Sunday Express
An uplifting, beautifully written story.
Independent on Sunday
A beautifully written, warm-hearted book. Almond's poetic, though gritty, prose avoids the pitfalls of sentimentality.
The Observer
Almond's books are always moving, uplifting tributes to the human spirit.
The Scotsman