I’m not sure what I was expecting with Highfire. I was introduced to the author Eoin Colfer via Artemis Fowl which I enjoyed for the first several novels, then lost interest in in the direction the series was going. I like the not entirely original premise of the grumpy powerful being (Vern the dragon) teaming up with and gradually softening to a spunky sidekick (Squib Moreau). The setting of the Bayou, presumably Louisiana, makes for interesting potential in terms of cultural lore. It’s sort of too bad that wasn’t really developed.
Vern has managed to stay out of trouble and humanity for centuries, although he does have a buddy/helper in Waxman or whom Squib does some odd jobs of a slightly questionable nature. Squib is a trouble-magnet of a 15-year old with a single mother who has attracted and so far refused the attention of the highly crooked and twisted local Sheriff Regence Hooke. Squib sees Hooke committing a murder, gets rescued by Vern, and the rest of the novel is Vern and Squib vs Hooke. This could have been a harmless fantasy adventure, but the over-doing certain things like what comes off as a half-assed attempt to use dialect, and Regence’s backstory probably meant to humanize slightly but to no effect, brings things down. Having several characters call everyone “boy” and a lot of mostly gratuitous cursing doesn’t do justice to the possibility of the setting. There could have so much more done with the Cajun culture and history, especially the folklore.
There was some sort of graphic and somewhat unnecessary descriptions of violence; fighting and violence make sense in context of the plot, but how it’s described doesn’t really fit in well with the rest of the tone which comes off mostly as trying to be entertaining. You don’t need the fairly detailed but not totally graphic description of a character getting eaten by gators or another character getting murdered and dismembered, even if one character deserves it and the other doesn’t. It seems almost like the swearing and violence are there just to let everyone know this isn’t a dark YA novel, this is for grown ups.
It’s not a bad read overall, it’s just not what it could have been. Even with some of the characters, things are uneven. Squib, Vern, and Hooke are all fairly developed, but Elodie (Squib’s’ mom) and Bodi (who comes in mostly in the last quarter of the novel but has a lot to do) don’t have much to them; again, there could have been a lot more that just wasn’t here.