The Summer of Fire
A Netgalley review
In March of 2015 – this year – it seemed that Iceland’s largest volcanic eruption for 200 years ended.
It was the Bardarbunga volcano that was causing a lava field to form in Holuhraun. The eruption had lasted 6 months. This lava field was 8 times bigger than the 2010 Eyjafjallajökul eruption that is showcased in this book but still very much smaller than the 1783 Laki eruption which was the one that caused mass famine and death.
Volcanic eruptions cause our skies to change colour and it was noted by Turner and other great artists as they painted in the 1780s. Eruptions made the sky redder [http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2588838/How-19th-century-art-painting-picture-Earths-polluted-past-Turners-sunsets-reveal-volcanic-ash-gas-sky.html] and it is claimed that Turner’s famous picture of The Lake was a good example of this. The 1815 Indonesian volcanic eruption demonstrated how this could happen as the particles scatter sunlight and the effect can be seen in Europe for some 3 years afterwards.
Also, the famous painting The Scream by Munch was meant to depict a volcanic eruption. – it was originally called The Scream of Nature. This was painted after the Krakatoa eruption of 1883.
This book not only has volcanology but also archaeology and oceanography within it for the scientist to explore further.
We learn some science along the way including that in psychopaths, the amygdala area of the brain is markedly less active than normal people and that the frontal cortex where the receptors for emotions such as empathy and remorse are contained are impaired.
Included in the characters that take part in the story are an Italian Gang boss aka Mafiosa; naive young boys; brave photographers; royalty; billionaires; and English country gentry. Was there any stock character that the author left out?
And just when you think that nothing more can happen because all the baddies have been killed off – they turn up again and something new and nasty happens!
I wish that I liked it more, but it all seemed a little too contrived and a little too full of the stock characters of crime novels. We didn’t explore the characters sufficiently as there were just too many of them…