While on a family trip to Wallace, Idaho, Kevin finds a relative’s secret diary that explains the shed in the back yard is actually a time machine. Being young and adventurous, Kevin decides to have a go and is transported to 1910. He makes friends, develops a positive reputation within the town, and even lands a serendipitous position as a school teacher. Kevin’s reason for staying in 1910 for as long as he did is a lovely lady named Sarah. Additionally, he meets a second young lady (Sadie) who seems to have affections for him.
While I expected Kevin, as the main character, to be the only point of view, the story was built through multiple points of view, some even being minor characters. The author was kind enough to announce these changes at the beginning of each chapter. As three-fourths of the novel was from Kevin’s perspective, it felt like a lazy way of telling the reader about a character. The point of view changes were distracting, especially when Sarah or Sadie took the stage. It allowed for redundant reflections that the reader knew from previous interactions told from Kevin’s perspective. Instead of adding a sense of romance or heartache, it slowed down the progression of the, otherwise engaging , narrative. The love story plays out rather unpredictably through charming dialogue.
The premise of the novel was unique and Heldt’s research on the time period shows. His description of the town of Wallace and the nuances of life lived in 1910 bring the reader back in time with Kevin and create a wistful desire to return to simpler times. The year itself acts as a character and creates a tension in the back of our mind since we readers (and Kevin) know about the forest fire that will occur in August of 1910.
While The Fire is billed as a historical romance, let it be known that the novel breaches two genres: historical romance and science fiction. The novel also champions the subjects of science and history by casually mentioning the importance of both during dialogue and internal reflections of the characters. An excellent starter for sci-fi fans wishing to branch out.