A VISION OF FIRE is a supernatural thriller that aims high but falls far. Its interesting premise is blandly handled, reducing the novel to an uninspired slog rather than the page-turner it hopes to be. Readers drawn in by Gillian Anderson’s name emblazoned on the cover and expecting an X-Files-type romp will be disappointed: A VISION OF FIRE is a poor substitute for the fan-favourite TV show.
Caitlin O’Hara shares a key trait with Dana Scully, in that she’s a rational professional thrown into a mystery that defies logic, whose fervent dismissals of the supernatural are gradually worn down and scepticism gives way to acceptance. As relationships between India and Pakistan deteriorate, there is a failed assassination attempt on the Indian Ambassador, witnessed at close proximity by his daughter, Mannik. Soon after the event, the young girl regresses into a trance-like state and begins speaking in strange otherworldly tongues. Similar events occur elsewhere, and so it falls on Caitlin, an esteemed child psychologist, to investigate their correlation, and if at all possible, find a cure. She’s not alone, of course: a long-time friend and UN translator, Ben, acts as Caitlin’s confidant and prospective love interest (a subplot that feels undercooked, lacking the sort of will-they-won’t they tension that emanated the Mulder and Scully dynamic).
A VISION OF FIRE feels uninspired: a series of cardboard cut-outs moving through their paces. The narrative lacks zest, the characters lack spark, and there’s not much to grasp onto for the inevitable sequel. A disappointment.