The Fire Within
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This is a curious tale about dragons, squirrels and unconvincing people. David, a college student, takes lodgings with Liz, a potter who makes model dragons. Liz is quite a dragon herself, but not enough to subdue her irritating ten-year-old daughter, Lucy. Lucy is obsessed with the welfare of a one-eyed squirrel in the garden. Caught between dragon mysteries and squirrel emergencies, David is distracted from college work into behaviour as odd and unbelievable as everyone else's. The dragons are a damp squib, mere inspirational toys. The senti-mentalised squirrels, however, are all too real. Conker, the visually impaired rodent, is of course the familiar grey squirrel, the imported American tree rat responsible for muscling out the beautiful native red squirrel, which few young readers nowadays are lucky enough to see. At a crucial point in the story, the reader is told that grey squirrels are now 'classed as pests' (as indeed they are), and that they must not be released once caught (as indeed they should not), whereupon the four main characters at once proceed to break the law, with the author's obvious approval. Thus the book adds irresponsibility to its already obvious defects of heavy-handed humour and laboriously manic storytelling.