First edition hardback of Firestarter.

Firestarter is the ninth book published by Stephen King; it is his eighth novel, and the sixth novel under his own name. The book was released by Viking in 29 September 1980.


In 1969, a secret government agency called The Shop, made experiments with a chemical drug called Lot Six. Lot Six altered the chromosomes on the test subjects, to experiment with psychokinetic powers, such as telekinesis. Two of the test subjects, Andy McGee and Vicky Tomlinson fell in love, and later married. They had a child, who they named Charlie, who was born with multiple abilities, including Pyrokinesis, the ability to start fires with her mind.

Eight years later, Andy and Charlie flee across America, constantly looking for sanctuary from a group of government agents from The Shop, who are trying to find them, capture them, and harness their powers for the military. Charlie and Andy flee from New York to Albany hitching a ride in a taxi and later to a motel in Hastings Glen where they spend the night.  With The Shop on their heels, Charlie and Andy leave the motel and hitch a ride provided by Irv Manders who promises to take them closer to St Johnsbury. Under the aliases, Roberta and Frank stay for lunch at the farm provided by Norma Manders. The couple already aware of the police search is suspicious whether Charlie may or may not have been held against her will by Andy. Irv, however, realizes there is a different story to it. But before he can be convinced by Andy, The Shop shows up at farm. Irv gets shot. To protect her father, Charlie sets The Shop agents on fire, the farm burning along with them. In Irvs Willys' Jeep, Charlie and Andy take off to Vermont. In Washington, John Rainbird extracts every piece of information out of Dr. Wanless about Charlie McGee. Then he kills him. Two days later Charlie and Andy arrive at the cottage in Tashmore Pond. The provisions untouched they settle down for the night. They even stay for winter where Andy crosses the frozen pond into the city to buy clothes and food. At the end of winter he decides its time to write to the newspapers. But The Shop gets to the letters first.

In a flashback to 1980 Andy experiences an odd feeling at work and goes home. There he finds his wife Vicky, dead at the hands of The Shop. For some time they had been aware of taps on their phones and people watching them, but he had not expected it would come to this. Andy pursues the kidnappers of his daughter and finds her at a rest stop where he uses his abilities to incapacitate them, then taking Charlie to safety.  Andy slowly regains his powers and initiates an escape attempt.  Rainbird figures out the plan and stops them, killing Andy in the process. Grief turns to fury as Charlie uses her now perfected pyrokinesis to battle her way out of the compound, killing many, and destroying much of the compound in the process.  After spending time with a couple that had previously sheltered them, Charlie flees again, just as Shop agents discover her location, once again staying one step ahead of The Shop, and goes to the Rolling Stone magazine to give an interview telling her story, because she sees it as an "unbiased source with no ties to the government".


The story was adapted into a film in 1984, with a made-for-television, sequel Firestarter 2: Rekindled, following in 2002. A television series called The Shop is also planned as a sequel of Firestarter.


The audiobook version of Firestarter is read by Dennis Boutsikaris.


  • The book Firestarter is very similar to the Netflix series Stranger Things. It is confirmed in the book Stranger Things: Worlds Turned Upside Down that The Duffer Brothers took inspiration from Firestarter, along with the books Carrie, The Dead Zone, The Body, The Shining and It.
  • A doctor and minor character in the book shares his name with It character, Patrick Hockstetter. This likely means nothing though and it is almost certain the two aren’t related in any way nor are they intended to be the same person.


Referenced in

  • Gardener tells Bobbi about a girl who burned down The Shop in The Tommyknockers.
    In this novel, The Shop also takes control of aliens. 
  • The Shop is involved in the Arrowhead Project , which resulted in the titular supernatural disaster of The Mist .
  • The Shop is mentioned in "The Langoliers", Bob Jenkins throws the name into the hat as the time-displaced characters attempt to solve the mystery of their situation.  

Book Covers

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