A Globe and Mail Best Book of 2020
A Writers' Trust of Canada Best Book of the Year
A 49th Shelf Books of the Year (Fiction) Selection
One of "20 books you need to read this winter," Maclean's
For those who loved Barbara Kingsolver's Flight Behavior comes a new climate-themed, Shakespeare-inspired novel from bestselling author Catherine Bush.
The time is now or an alternate near now, the world close to our own. A Category Five hurricane sweeps up the eastern seaboard of North America, leaving devastation in its wake, its outer wings brushing over tiny Blaze Island. During this wild night, a stranger washes up on the doorstep of the isolated house where Milan Wells lives with his daughter Miranda.
A climate scientist whose career was destroyed by climate change deniers, Wells has fled to this remote island with his daughter years before, desperate to protect her from the world's worsening weather.
Seemingly safe in her father's realm, Miranda walks the island's rocky shores, helping her father with his daily weather records. But the stranger's arrival breaks open Miranda's world, stirs up memories of events of long ago and compels her to wonder what her father is up to with his mysterious weather experiments. In the aftermath of the storm, she finds herself in a world altered so quickly that she hardly knows what has happened or what the unpredictable future will bring.
"[Bush] creates characters who are grappling with issues that extend beyond their domestic lives, encompassing broader public threats or concerns. In Blaze Island, she lays out a very real and present dilemma that each character confronts differently."
"A page-turner that confers a moral imperative of our time."
"In the famous end of The Tempest, Prospero asks that the audience free him and the other characters from the dream of the play. Blaze Island amounts to a similar request. To deny or ignore our changing world is to stay willfully dreaming."
"Climate change is both an external and internal phenomenon in Catherine Bush’s brilliant new novel, Blaze Island — an ever-moving storm of emotion and politics that unfolds under churning skies and life-or-death stakes. Bush brings together a complicated cast of three-dimensional men and women, all fighting with and against each other in the name of saving the planet ... or making a buck."
"Blaze Island is a beautiful, far-seeing, and fiercely intelligent novel about the most critical question of our time. Every sentence has the lush exactitude of a poem — and the book, as it stuns and pivots, the stampeding heart of a thriller."
"She points out a dire situation that climate change could bring and offers us food for thought towards a better future."
"[Miranda is] the daughter of a renowned climate scientist whose reputation has been shredded by a hostile establishment determined to discredit his warnings of environmental catastrophe. The two end up in exile on a tiny island in the North Atlantic, setting the stage for an elegantly crafted story that also proves to be a sizzling ecological thriller."
"Catherine Bush’s cast of characters roam Blaze Island after a storm of mythical strength, amid a welter of blown-off roofs, smashed windows, sunken vehicles, blazing desire, and destruction. Bush’s prose is a lightning storm in the dark of climate crisis — gothic, forceful, and beautifully intimate. Here is the majesty and awe of unleashed nature and we are caught in the grip. Swept away. This novel is sublime."
"Blaze Island is a fascinating and prescient story. With climate change as the backdrop, Catherine Bush’s lyrical portrait of the northern island landscape and a young woman’s passion for the land offers a frightening warning of how big business will surely adapt to the changes to benefit itself. Bush’s story is compelling — we watch the hurricane unfold, as only a brilliant writer can show us — and offers a moving and soulful primer for climate survival. "
"Bush’s Blaze Island is a fierce box of wind. Open its cover and you feel at once the fury of the weather to come, the future of the planet in novel form."
"Timely ... a gripping page-turner."
"You can actually feel and smell all of Newfoundland in Catherine Bush’s nail-biter novel."
"It’s a book that has stayed with me, that I think about almost daily and has the power, I believe, to awaken people from their apathy."
"A prediction of what is to come should we fail to heed the mounting evidence of the current climate crisis."
"The novel poses morally complex questions. It does so with the tautness of a thriller and the luxuriant precision of poetry."
"Bush’s deeply resonant ecological retelling of The Tempest showcases a "brave new world" as ironic as Shakespeare’s: brave because it is startling, dangerous and inescapable for those left alive; new because it really isn’t, merely the whirlwind humanity has sowed for its children to reap."
"Riveting and morally complex, this is a beautiful, kaleidoscopic work that offers a resounding reply to the question of how literature might wrestle with the deepest threat facing the planet, anthropogenic climate change. In the absence of saviours and easy consolation, what Bush has created is an allegory of hubris and humility and an exhilarating space in which to re-imagine multi-species relationships and stories."