Above The Fire

A Novel of the Mountains

Available December 5 from Blackstone Publishing

“As they walked and established a pace, he felt the stiffness work out of his legs. A knot in one of his calves began to loosen as he raised his face to the mountain air. His breathing took on a rhythm and his mind began to clear. This would be the work of the day. Boots on a trail, inching their way forward, out of doors and out of mind except where he let his thoughts wander. They would do one thing at a time: make a fire, drink cold water, doze in the shade. All the while the clarifying beat of their stride would lend purpose to the exertion. They were proceeding a span of twelve miles, from one shelter to another, spurred on by the reward of a meal with new friends, time spent together, and the simple accomplishment of a goal. Their business was as ancient as footprints and as simple as onrushing wind. They were free.”

A novel in the tradition of The Road by Cormac McCarthy and The Dog Stars by Peter Heller. Available from Blackstone Publishing.

Pre-order online, or purchase beginning December 5 wherever books are sold:

“Above the Fire is a quiet, thrilling, profound book. Set against the backdrop of catastrophe, it is a meditation on fatherhood, love, resilience, and loss. I cannot recommend it highly enough."
Jon Fasman
author of The Geographer's Library and The Unpossessed City
“A prescient, timely novel of sacrifice and consequence, O’Donnell’s debut soars as a modern survival tale full of timeless, biting prose. Fireside reading with a pulse, Above the Fire commands attention and satiates the appetite for a unique plot that honors a classic dilemma. A triumph.”
Ross Ritchell
author of The Knife
“Above the Fire is a timely and tense novel about a loving father forced to prepare his son for a cold and uncertain world. With his terrific debut, O’Donnell invents the counterpart to the 'summer beach read'—call it the 'winter cabin fever read'— and his careful prose thrusts the reader into a worst-case scenario where every choice could mean life or death.”
Kevin Guilfoile
author of The Thousand and Cast of Shadows

Map design by Oscar Brumelis, trailgoals.com


Library Journal: “[A] journey of bonding and healing for a father and son wounded by loss that is surprisingly tender.”

Booklist (starred review): “An utterly gripping debut novel about humans surmounting threats both external and emotional.”

Library Journal Day of Dialogue 2023: Fiction/Survival Panel

Shelf Awareness: “A concise, fast-paced first novel…O’Donnell demonstrates impressive confidence.”

Chicago Tribune: When Will the Great Pandemic Novel Be Published?