Talking about adventures!
Island on Fire by Sophie Schiller is an Adult, Historical, Thriller
In the lush, tropical world of Martinique where slavery is a distant memory and voodoo holds sway, Emilie Dujon discovers that her fiancé, a rich sugar planter, has been unfaithful. Desperate to leave him, she elicits the aid of a voodoo witch doctor and is lured into a shadowy world of black magic and extortion. When the volcano known as Mount Pelée begins to rumble and spew ash, she joins a scientific committee sent to investigate the crater. During the journey she meets Lt. Denis Rémy, an army officer with a mysterious past.
At the summit, the explorers discover that a second crater has formed and the volcano appears to be on the verge of eruption. But when they try to warn the governor, he orders them to bury the evidence for fear of upsetting the upcoming election. As the pressure builds, a deadly mudslide inundates Emilie’s plantation and she disappears. With ash and cinders raining down, chaos ensues. Left with no choice, Lt. Rémy deserts his post and sets off on a desperate quest to rescue Emilie. But with all roads blocked, can they escape the doomed city of St. Pierre before it’s too late?
Sophie Schiller was born in Paterson, NJ and grew up in the West Indies. She loves stories that carry the reader back in time to exotic and far-flung locations. Kirkus Reviews called her “an accomplished thriller and historical adventure writer”. Her latest novel is Island on Fire, a thriller about the worst volcanic disaster of the 20th century. She was educated at American University, Washington, DC and lives in Brooklyn, NY. Because she was born in such a different and exotic place, I asked her what does she miss about it? Would she go back living there?
What I miss most about living in the West Indies is the proximity to beauty and Nature. In the islands, Nature surrounds you everywhere. The sparkling blue sea, the mountains, the foliage, the birds, and the sea creatures are all within your grasp. One doesn’t have to drive for hours to be immersed in the natural world; all one has to do is walk outside. There’s a certain sense of freedom that you can roam around and explore wherever you want. People tend to have a strong family history attached to a piece of land, including old sugar plantations. The land is embedded in their collective soul and psyche. The people share common memories. Customs and traditions are passed down through oral history, whereas in the States we have a greater sense of mobility and, as a result, lose a lot of our collective memory along the way. Bibles, heirlooms, photo albums, stories, newspaper clippings, and memories are all lost along the way and, as a result, the younger generations become estranged from their family history. I find this to be less true in the Caribbean, where several generations can all live in close proximity.Typically in the West Indies, families are rooted
Typically in the West Indies, families are rooted to their ancestral homes and villages for many generations, which brings a sense of continuity. Many generations of one family can be buried in one cemetery. Societal change comes much slower and traditions are retained. Folk music, dances, and recipes are lovingly passed down from one generation to the next. Styles of dress that reflect their native heritage are retained for public holidays and cultural festivals. I like returning to the West Indies to experience the old traditions and customs. Sometimes you feel a connection to the past just by touching the old stone walls and walking down the back alleys. These are some of my favorite moments, communing with the history that surrounds you.
Someday I would love to go back to live there, but I think that no matter where I go, my heart will always belong to the West Indies and her vibrant, warm people. I take my memories with me wherever I go!
- Paperback copy of Island on Fire