Under Ordshaw: An Author’s Tale

Today I’m really happy to be taking part in an event celebrating the five year anniversary of a book that first came to my attention  through SPFBO.  I read Under Ordshaw in 2018 and loved it, in fact it was a Semifinalist in the competition.  Phil Williams is an author that I have no hesitation in recommending whose body of work goes from strength to strength.  Ordshaw is a fantastic creation with infinite possibilities not to mention a labyrinth of underground tunnels and a posse of snarky fae.  Anyway, don’t take my word for it – read the books.  I’m really pleased to be able to share Phil’s story with you today so take a look at his journey below and click on the link to access a free copy (this is for a limited period only so jump on board quickly).

Under Ordshaw (New)

Celebrating 5 Years of Ordshaw

Five years ago today, Under Ordshaw was released and the world was exposed to a unique British city with the occasional magical/horrific twist. The series has now seen two story arcs completed with The Sunken City Trilogy and The Ikiri Duology; two new arcs started with The City Screams and Dyer Street Punk Witches, and a host of short stories. To celebrate Ordshaw’s anniversary, here’s a trip down memory lane – and as a gift of Under Ordshaw for free for the next few days (29th – 31st), available in all major eBook stores, everywhere.

What is Under Ordshaw?

It all started with poker player Pax Kuranes discovering a secret labyrinth under her otherwise normal (if rough) city. Also, she discovered some very unusual, but mostly horrible, monsters – and a community of rather offensive and violent diminutive fairies. All this in a city otherwise rooted in reality, with distinct, characterful boroughs and a deep, detailed history (inspired variously by some cities I’m most familiar with, such as London, Nottingham, Bristol and Luton (not a city, with spite)). The books mostly explore the seedier, darker side of Ordshaw, involving criminal gangs, shady government organisations and impoverished, rundown neighbourhoods, with some hints at the brighter, cheerier suburbs.

The Journey to the Story

Under Ordshaw was written and released over about 18 months, between 2017 and 2018 (alongside and overlapping my dystopian Estalia books). Blue Angel and The Violent Fae followed in 2019 to complete The Sunken City Trilogy (with The City Screams emerging somewhere in between). My plans for it emerged much earlier, though, while frequently riding the metro working in Prague, 2008 (a job that also inspired parts of Dyer Street Punk Witches).

The bare roots of the story came together in a screenplay around 2008. I spent two or three years revising it, taking it to producers and directors. In its earliest form, it resembled something of the final structure of Under Ordshaw, but followed the Barton family with no Pax in sight. At some point this warped, as screenplays do, into an animation involving talking penguins, and there were rumours at one point of Whoopi Goldberg coming on board. That all petered out, until some years later when I’d got a couple of self-published books under my belt, and had a burning desire to revive and combine a slew of older works.

A Shared Universe

I wrote Under Ordshaw with big plans in mind from the offset. There was to be an opening trilogy, but also a series of independent or loosely connected tales. Blue Angel hints at a character in The City Screams; The City Screams introduces a character from The Ikiri Duology; and Under Ordshaw itself references criminals discussed in Dyer Street Punk Witches.

My goal was to explore different tropes and story arcs framed in one particular Ordshaw lens: grittier action thrillers (in a vein of the emergent cinema of the 90s) with the propensity for wild fantasy twists and turns. There would be a witches saga, a haunted house tale, a Faustian story, secular crime stories and more. Then, there was also the opportunity for absolutely off-the-wall adventures, as Kept From Cages introduced.

Five Years in the Open

For all my lofty goals, Under Ordshaw got off to a fairly inauspicious start, and really owes the spark of life it found to Mark Lawrence’s SPFBO and the many wonderful contacts I’ve made following that. The book was a semi-finalist for Lynn’s Books in 2018 and Lynn kindly put me in touch with other bloggers who helped review and promote the series. It picked up momentum through the attention of a lot of great reviewers, which in turn has always encouraged me to keep hammering at my greater scheme. Never mind that sales have always been an uphill struggle, and Ordshaw doesn’t neatly fit the existing markets – the rewards are there in seeing readers’ responses to the series.

I have slowed down in recent years to split my focus over other projects, but little by little, Ordshaw has spread further into the world. We’re now up to seven novels in the series. Dyer Street has opened up a whole new venture, while Kept From Cages also reached the SPFBO semi-finals and went on to give Mark Lawrence himself a paper cut. And the books themselves are only improving as they go: I’ll forever love Under Ordshaw, but it is a particular starting point, with a certain roughness to it. Each entry that follows aims to expand and improve on that.

The Next Five Years

My plans for the future vary between the simple (add more books to the series) and elaborate (design Ordshaw animations and games; Ordshaw theme park?). What’s on the more immediate horizon are a sequel to The City Screams, with the long-overdue return of Pax and Letty, and the sequel to Dyer Street Punk Witches. There’s also an interactive story I’ve been itching to write forever. Then there will eventually be more from the Cutjaw Kids and Katiya and a couple of other standalone tales, and I’d like to go back to where this started and produce fresh screenplays from the books. Because the world needs more foul-mouthed fairies, criminal jazz musicians, weird monsters and punk witches, in every format.

For now, though, my most heartfelt thanks to everyone who’s come along for the ride, and everyone who’s yet to step into Ordshaw (don’t forget to grab your copy for free while you can!). I couldn’t have got anywhere near as far as I have without the support of a wonderful community of readers and writers, and I look forward to sharing more with you.


Thank you so much to Phil for his contribution today.  I think the story of his journey so far makes for fascinating and refreshingly honest reading and I look forward very much to seeing what he comes up with next.



Friday Face Off : Atalanta by Jennifer Saint


Today I’m returning to the  Friday Face Off, originally created by Books by Proxy).  I’ve missed these for the past few months and so would like to get back to comparing covers (and hopefully I will be updating this page with a new banner.  This is an opportunity to look at a book of your choice and shine the spotlight on the covers.  Of course this only works for those books that have alternative covers (although sometimes I use this to look at a series of books to choose a favourite). . So, if you have a book that has alternative covers, highlight them and choose your favourite.  If you’re taking part it would be great if you leave a link so I can take a look at what you’ve chosen.

My book this week is a very recent read (not yet reviewed in fact – watch this space next week) – Atalanta by Jennifer Saint, Here are the covers:

My favourite this week is :


I prefer the warmer tones and all the little details.  Which is your favourite?

Join me next week in highlighting one of your reads with different covers.

The Tyranny of Faith (Empire of the Wolf #2) by Richard Swan

My Five Word TL:DR Review: The gift that keeps giving


I would just mention that as this is the second book in the series the following review may contain spoilers (although I strive not to include any) so if you haven’t started this series yet (please do so immediately) and before reading further.  Thank you.

To say I had initial doubts about requesting book 1 this is turning into a tour de force that would have been a crying shame to have missed.  I love this series so far.  No middle book syndrome here.  No siree.  What really puzzles me is how did Richard Swan just pop up and with his debut novel create such a satisfyingly good first book in series?  It’s breathtaking.  This is a rollercoaster of a ride emotionally, the characters continue to impress and the story is packed with treachery and surprise.

The story starts almost immediately where we left off in The Justice of Kings and Helena is still our excellent storyteller narrating events in such a refreshingly honest voice that it’s easy, if not impossible, to become attached.  Rebellion is still stirring and Vonvalt returns to the Capital City, Sova, where he finds people openly speaking against the Emperor, not to mention fanatical preachers provoking dissention against the Magistratum.  The Emperor immediately sets Vonvalt to work rooting out the culprits but before Vonvalt can turn his sights onto the real threat -Claver – his attentions are drawn away when the Emperor’s son is kidnapped and demands that Vonvalt seek answers and find his son.

I’m not going to elaborate on the plot as there are twists and turns here that I don’t want to spoil.  What I’d like to focus on instead are the winning elements of the story.

Well, firstly, for me the characters are so well written.  Helena, as I already mentioned, is refreshingly honest.  She’s still a young girl and naive in many respects.  Her emotions for Vonvalt are in turmoil, she feels attracted to him but at the same time feels that some of his actions of late are questionable and this is a feeling that is about to explode.  It all leads back to my question during book one about who is responsible for keeping the Justices on the straight and narrow.  And this is another aspect that feeds beautifully into the characters themselves, leading their actions and giving their motivations new meaning as we discover things from their past that they’re not proud of which continue to haunt them.  And, we have four central characters with this instalment with Sir Radomir joining Bressinger, Vonvalt and Helena.  They are an interesting bunch to read and the author lets us spend some quality time with thiem which really helped.

The writing is so easy to like.  On the face of it, I feel like this should be a really ‘dry’ read with lengthy debates about justice, peacekeeping and faith and how it plays into the Magistratum, and to be fair there is plenty of food for thought here to really provoke the reader, but, at the same time the writing is so easy to engage with.  The pacing is good and there’s a balance between the winning elements that is almost perfect.  It’s not all action to the point that you just feel exhausted on behalf of the characters, but when there is action it’s gripping and tense.  There’s a mystery taking place and although you know that things are going to go pear shaped (Helena does like to drop hints) the eventual reveals are still a surprise.

Not to wax lyrical, I loved the story with this.  It takes a turn for the dark, Vonvalt is weighed down with his own issues, the Emperor isn’t seeing straight (as you might imagine with the kidnap of his son and heir) and Claver seems to have grown in strength.  And may I say at this point what a fantastic ‘baddie’ Claver makes.  Ooh, he’s so bad, I dislike him intensely but really like him in turns of the series.

The magical elements whilst similar to book one have increased in strength and I loved the times where the story took us to the demons and underworld, it’s decidedly creepy.

I am loving this series and can’t recommend it highly enough.

Also, can we just take a minute to look at that cover – I love it.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

My rating 5 of 5 stars

Can’t Wait Wednesday : The Pale House Devil by Richard Kadrey


“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme that was originally created by Breaking the Spine.  Unfortunately Breaking the Spine are no longer hosting so I’m now linking my posts up to Wishful Endings Can’t Wait Wednesday. Don’t forget to stop over, link up and check out what books everyone else is waiting for.  If you want to take part, basically, every Wednesday, we highlight a book that we’re really looking forward to.  This week my book is : The Pale House Devil by Richard Kadrey.  Here’s the description and cover:

The paleHouseDevil

A gripping, snappy creature feature from the master of horror noir about two detectives—one dead, one living—hired by an embittered old landowner to banish a bloody cosmic monster from his ancestral home, perfect for fans of Cassandra Khaw, Charles Stross and Lucy A. Snyder.

Ford and Neuland are paranormal mercenaries—one living, one undead; one kills the undead, the other kills the living. Heading west to look for work and wait for the heat from their last job to cool down.

There Tilda, a young woman, hires them to track and kill a demon haunting a mansion in remote northern California for wealthy landowner, Shepherd Mansfield.

As Ford and Neuland investigate the creature they uncover a legacy of blood, sacrifice and slavery in the house. Forced to confront a powerful creature unlike anything they’ve faced before, they come to learn the biggest monster in this story might just be the person paying them.

Expected publication : October 2023

April Recap/May Reading

Posted On 1 May 2023

Filed under Book Reviews
Tags: ,

Comments Dropped 5 responses

Hopefully I can do a similar post each month to keep track of which books I’ve read and which are outstanding.  Unfortunately, given family commitments recently my reading went shockingly off track and so I’m trying to get back on schedule.  I didn’t do too badly with Aprils books in fact there’s only one title outstanding.  May, well, I think I must have had a conniption or something because I do seem to have a lot of books for the month of May – Oh well, they all look so good too.  Where to start.

Firstly, what I read last month:

  1. A Gift of Poison by Bella Ellis
  2. The Tyranny of Faith by Richard Swan
  3. The Adventures of Amina Al-Sirafi by Shannon Chakraborty
  4. A House with Good Bones by T Kingfisher
  5. Atalanta by Jennifer Saint
  6. The Other Lives of Miss Emily White by A J Elwood
  7. Games for Dead Girls by Jen Williams
  8. A Touch of Light by Thiago Abdalla

I’m also just over a third into The Bone Shard War by Andrea Stewart and hoping to sit down to complete that over the next few days.  Unfortunately I didn’t manage to read The Cleaving by Juliet E McKenna.  I also have three reviews to write which I’m hoping to post in the next few days.

May’s books:

  1. Dragonfall by LR Lam
  2. The Ferryman by Justin Cronin
  3. Our Hideous Progeny by CE McGill
  4. Scarlet by Genevieve Cogman
  5. The Twenty by Sam Holland
  6. The Last Passenger by Will Dean
  7. The Book That Wouldn’t Burn by Mark Lawrence
  8. Broken Light by Joanne Harris
  9. The Malevolent Seven by Sebastien De Castell
  10. Myriad by Joshua David Bellin
  11. On the Nature of Magic by Marian Womack
  12. Witch King by Martha Wells

Yes, this does look a little crazy, but, my June and July book schedules are not as hectic so I’m hoping to make some progress on any of my backlist books at that point.

That’s it for now.  Happy reading everyone.

Next Page »