Catherine Bush

Blaze Island

Blaze Island is a fascinating and prescient story — and offers a moving and soulful primer for climate survival.” — Shani Mootoo, author of Moving Forward Sideways Like A Crab, Cereus Blooms at Midnight and other novels

“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.” — Brad Kessler, author of Birds in Fall and Goat Song


A mammoth Category Five hurricane sweeps up the eastern seaboard of North America, leaving devastation in its wake, its outer wings brushing over tiny Blaze Island in the North Atlantic. In the aftermath of the storm, Miranda Wells, teenaged daughter of weather-watcher Alan Wells, finds herself in an altered world, as does Caleb Borders, the young man from the island who works for her father. Who is the youthful stranger who has crashed his car in the midst of the storm and seeks refuge in Miranda’s isolated home? Who are the three men who have flown to the island hours before the storm in a sleek corporate jet? 

Just as the storm disrupts the present, it stirs up the past: Miranda’s days growing up in an isolated, wind-swept cove, and the long-ago past that her father will not allow her to speak of —when he was a renowned scientist running a Centre for Climate and Cryosphere Studies in Princeton, New Jersey, before climate-change deniers made him their target with terrifying consequences. While Miranda contends with the astonishing secrets that the stranger, Frank Hansen, reveals to her, Caleb grapples with alarming discoveries about the three visitors who find themselves stranded on Blaze Island. Both Caleb and Miranda are compelled to wonder: Is her father a man capable of working on a private and contentious climate engineering project that would attempt, despite huge risks, to cool the world’s dangerously warming weather by shooting particulates high into the atmosphere?Blaze Island asks how far a parent will go to create a safe world for a child. And what the children of today will need to do in order to imagine a future for themselves. How do you imagine a tomorrow when the present seems, whichever way you look, to be hovering on the brink of catastrophe? Dramatizing the complex emotions that arise in the face of the climate crisis and intensifying ecological loss, Blaze Island enfolds a gripping human story within the larger presence of the constantly shifting elements: wild winds that grow wilder, the haunting parade of icebergs that float past Miranda’s door, melting as they travel ever-farther south.

Catherine Bush is the author of four novels, including the Canada Reads long-listed Accusation (2013), the Trillium Award short-listed Claire’s Head (2004), and the national bestselling The Rules of Engagement (FSG, 2000), a New York Times Notable Book and an L.A. Times Best Book of the Year. She was recently a Fiction Meets Science Fellow at the HWK in Germany and has spoken internationally about addressing the climate crisis in fiction. She is an Associate Professor at the University of Guelph and Coordinator of the Guelph Creative Writing MFA, based in Toronto.

Writing a novel is a terrible experience during which the hair often falls out and the teeth decay."

- Flannery O’Connor

The Rules of Engagement

“The novel is a prose narrative of some length that has something wrong with it.”

- Randall Jarrell

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