Dyer Street Punk Witches by Phil Williams (Ordshaw #7)

My Five Word TL:DR Review: My favourite Ordshaw adventure yet

GTD Cover

I first encountered the strange city of Ordshaw during a SPFBO challenge a few years ago and I have to say that the author has taken this place and made it into a fascinating place full of magic.  His love for Ordshaw and it’s characters shines through in his writing and makes the reading so much more enjoyable as a result.  To my shame I haven’t read all the books in the series but this leads me a very good point – which is (and if you’re a reader with a huge TBR – which, you probably are) that you can read many of these as standalones and this is one such example.  

Hand on heart, I can genuinely say that this is my favourite of the author’s work so far (which is saying something as I also recently enjoyed Kept from Cages.  For me, this story had the perfect mix of elements.  Rebellious women turning to witchery, punk-bad-assness, gangs and the criminal underworld, great characters that you can really become attached to and, well, what more do you want – punk witches.  

Essentially this is the story of Kit “Fadulous” Hamley, activist editor for the type of publication not afraid to call out those who should be above corruption and helping the downtrodden but who frequently fail to do so.  Kit lives in a rather seedy area of Ordshaw where gangs in the past fought for turf.  Kit and her two friends became involved in the gang life, much to their later regret, and as they started to discover their own talents for witchcraft became sucked much deeper into the goings on.  Things have moved on since then, regrets have been put firmly behind, the girls left their ‘witchery’ dead and buried – until it seems that there’s a new force felt in the area and with that stirring in the darkness the gangs once again become restless.

I won’t say anything further about the plot as you can discover that for yourself and I highly recommend you do so.  Instead, I’m going to highlight a few of my feelings.

Well, firstly, I just loved Kit.  I mean, everything about her.  She doesn’t take any nonsense.  She rushes in like a raging maniac with little fear for the consequences.  Also, yes, she’s a bit reckless but I also think this boils down to the innate trust she has in those around her to behave in a certain way.  She’s a confident woman. she can still touch the darkness but has chosen not to do so understanding that such magic comes with a price  that she’s not prepared to pay. And, she’s like this fearsome creature that stalks around growling at people but she’s also something of a great softie. She’s surrounded by other really easy to like characters but I’ll let you discover them for yourself.

Kit and her buddies drifted apart but in their teenage years they were firm friends, dabbling in the unknown with the help of an online grimoire that they found.  I loved that there’s a split timeline here.  It takes us back to those crazy young years and I really think Williams nailed the whole chaotic, passionate, crazy messed up punk feel and it simply made me smile.  We drift back and forth between the now and then slowly discovering what really took place all those years ago with a few twists thrown in for good measure and the pacing of this is, for me, perfect. 

What else did I love.  Well, I mentioned that the author has a clear love for this strange place and it shines through.  This is a place that is easy to visualise,  This author knows this place, he’s spent time here and he’s confident when he’s writing about it.  In fact that leads me to my next point which is I feel that Williams has really honed his writing.  This book is really well executed.  There’s a great sense of pace and the balance between slowly revealing things from the past, jumping back to the ‘now’ and keeping the interest jumping whilst really making the reader feel for the characters is just so well done.  Seriously, I have to applaud this because I never, not once, had a feeling of regret or impatience when I was jumping between the timelines, I didn’t experience any of those little niggles where you feel like you’re being lead down the garden path, or given information that was unnecessary, it just worked so well for me.

Okay, I also can’t deny that the whole reflection on the punk rock age is something that I loved, and that cover by the way – just saying (gorgeous), but I also think the author played a blinder, he’s mixed up the anarchy and the gangs and the violence and he’s managed to pull into that the exploitation of raw new talent that sometimes took place.  And, he shows us the grown up versions of his characters as well as the younger more idealistic versions – and they’re a bit jaded, a bit rough around the edges but they still think they’re all that, tough as nails.

I actually have no criticisms for this book.  It worked really well for me and was a pleasure to read.

My thanks to the author for a review copy.  The above is my own opinion.

My rating 4.5 of 5 stars

As an extra the Author has come up with some Cards for his key characters and I am so happy to share with you the card for Firline.  The only thing I’m going to tell you about this character is she is a downright serious witch with an abundance of power.  She’s very important to the story but I’m not going to tell you why – go find out for yourself.  Here she is in all her glory:

Trading Cards

For more information about the characters and their cards take a look here.

Cover Reveal Alert – this is not a drill!

Today I’m really excited to be taking part in a cover reveal for a book by an author whose work I really enjoy.

Phil Williams is a fantastically creative fantasy writer whose books include the Under Ordshaw series and more recently Kept From Cages and Given to Darkness.

This post is an opportunity to join in with a number of other blogs to shine the spotlight on his most recent book and reveal that ever important cover.

Firstly, here’s the description to whet your appetite:

Kit hung up her brass knuckles, but she never stopped fighting. She abandoned the dark arts, but the shadows lingered. And now her past is back to haunt her. There’s a new witch in town, working with a ruthless gang to stamp out rivals – no matter how long ago they quit.

An old friend warns Kit that her neighbourhood is under attack. Kit herself is a target. Her former gang are scared stiff and her magic-wielding bandmates are long gone. She dreads reviving her destructive nature, and can’t dust off the spellbook – not after what happened last time. But what choice does she have?

Besides, she rarely gets to enjoy a good brawl anymore.

Decades older, a little wiser, and contrary as ever, Kit’s going to remind them all what a punk witch can do.

Now, doesn’t that sound amazing??

Secondly, for the part we’ve all been waiting for – the cover – and believe me it’s well worth the wait:

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GTD Cover

This really is a stunning cover. I feel positively giddy with anticipation.

A little bit about the author:

Phil Williams writes contemporary fantasy and dystopian fiction and non-fiction grammar guides. His novels include the interconnected Ordshaw urban fantasy thrillers, the post-apocalyptic Estalia saga and the action-packed Faergrowe series. He also runs the website English Lessons Brighton, and writes reference books to help foreign learners master the nuances of English.

Phil lives with his wife by the coast in Sussex, UK, and now spends a great deal of time walking his impossibly fluffy dog, Herbert.

Website : https://www.phil-williams.co.uk
Twitter : fantasticphil

Can’t Wait Wednesday : Given to Darkness by Phil Williams

Can't Wait Wednesday

“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 : Given to Darkness by Phil Williams.  Here’s my review for the first book Kept From Cages.

Giventodarkness

Ikiri demands blood. Whose will it be?

A malevolent force stirs from the heart of the Congo. One child can stop it – but everyone wants her dead.

Reece Coburn’s gang have travelled half the world to protect Zipporah, only to find her in more danger than ever. Her violent father is missing, his murderous enemies are coming for them, and her brother’s power is growing stronger. Entire communities are being slaughtered, and it’s only getting worse.

They have to reach Ikiri before its corruption spreads. But there’s a long journey ahead, past ferocious killers and unnatural creatures – and very few people can be trusted along the way.

Can two criminal musicians, an unstable assassin and a compromised spy reach Ikiri alive? What will it cost them along the way?

Pick up this exciting conclusion to the Ikiri duology today, for a supernatural thriller that will keep you hooked right to the finish.

Expected publication : October 2021

Kept From Cages by Phil Williams

Kept From CagesMy Five Word TL:DR Review : Fast Paced, Action Packed Adventure

Kept from Cages is an addictive read that is difficult to put down and at just under 300 pages I almost devoured this ‘monster-style’ : aka in one huge chunk swallowed whole.

Phil Williams is the author of urban fantasy series, Under Ordshaw, in which he creates a world full of strangeness and a City with a dark underbelly containing a warren of underground tunnels fairly teeming with supernatural creatures.  Kept From Cages is set in the same world but expands the boundaries and concepts and gives us something less urban  and more akin to wilderness fantasy (that should definitely be a ‘thing’).

For information Kept from Cages is the first in a duology and can be read without having read the Under Ordshaw series so if you haven’t read that series and feel hopelessly behind you can start here.

As the story begins we make the acquaintance of Reece and his companions.  They’ve clearly taken part in some sort of heist-gone-wrong and are approaching a farmhouse looking for aid.  Unfortunately, this strangely silent farmhouse is the last place likely to provide help or sustenance and in fact is the catalyst for events that see the gang racing across the country, wanted criminals, accused of atrocities they didn’t commit with a small girl in tow.

At the same time we follow a different storyline involving Agent Sean Tasker (who works for a secret agency, think along the lines of Men in Black supernatural style).  Tasker has been sent to a remote village in the Northern hemisphere where everyone has been mysteriously massacred.  The only clue to the killings comes from the lips of a dying man whose final words see Tasker racing across the world to the Congo in search of answers.

So, what did I love about this book. In no particular order.

The pacing – it really is fast and furious.  Strangely enough the author manages to create this crazy atmosphere of chaos with ever spiralling, life threatening events and yet at the same time use some sort of super power to miraculously slow things down at certain points to not only give the reader a breather but also to inject some ‘normality’ and time for character building.  It’s actually very effectively and impressively done.

The world building.  Again, the author doesn’t spend time giving flowery descriptions and yet he manages to capture an excellent sense of place using the minimum words possible.  We travel around quite a bit here, in fact the two alternate storylines take us to different corners of the world before coming together in a really satisfactory way.  I have to say I loved the time we spent in the Deep South – and the whole village on stilts idea was brilliant.

The plot.  It’s a little crazy.  As the story begins I almost felt a little lost.  The two completely different stories, the different agencies, spies and underlying corporate machinations and yet, I found myself gripped by the mystery of the massacred village and in fact the larger mystery at play here and without realising I’d jumped onboard and was held captive – but not against my will.  I became hooked.

The writing is really good.  It’s impressive to take something, that on the face of it feels almost a little ambitious, and yet to achieve a gripping story well told in such a deceptively easy way and in such a relatively short time frame.  There’s no wasted words, which is why this has such a snappy feel and I have to say there’s a good balance between storytelling and dialogue.

The characters.  The author manages to give us a variety of characters. We have the Cutjaw gang.  Reece and his musician companions and Zip – the young girl, with the strange powers, that they ‘rescued’ from the farmhouse.  We also have agent Tasker who teams up with a female assassin and her imaginary friend/conscience.  I can’t deny that the assassin stole the show a little for me.  I love kickass females and Williams excels at creating them (Lettie anyone?).  Anyway, you might expect that in such a short and punchy novel the characters would be a little lacklustre but this isn’t the case.  As I mentioned above the author does manage to capture a few moments where the pace slows down and we get to look a little more closely at the who/what/why of things.  I can’t deny that I would like a little more in terms of the characterisation but, at the same time I know that I’m hooked because by the conclusion I was worried about certain characters – and when you’re worried for the characters because you think they might die – then you know you’ve bought in.

In conclusion, this is a fast paced adventure with a twist in the tale that really surprised me and an ending that leaves me eager for the next instalment.

My rating 4 out of 5

I received a copy from the author, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

Self Published Spotlight

Today’s post is all about spreading the love for self published fantasy books. I have some fantastic books just waiting to be read and so I thought I’d share them with you. Take a look at these beauties:

Firstly, two books from author Phil Williams. I read Under Ordshaw as part of the Self Published Fantasy Blog Off competition. Under Ordshaw is such a fresh take on urban fantasy. Here is a city that looks, on the face of it, like any other and yet below the streets is a warren of tunnels just crawling with supernatural creatures. The world building is just great but, without doubt, the characters steal the show.

Now, I confess that I’ve been a little tardy keeping up with the series but I can say that this is not a reflection of my enjoyment, more a simple fact that time is sometimes in short supply and I can be a little over enthusiastic (aka as book greedy) when it comes to the number of books that I think I can read during the course of any given month. But, in the next few weeks I’m hoping to continue with the second book in the Under Ordshaw series – Blue Angel and I’m also really excited to have an advanced copy of Phil’s latest book Kept From Cages.

Kept From Cages is the first part in a new story arc in the Ordshaw world (with all new characters), and is more of a fast-paced supernatural action-thriller. It follows a gang of criminal jazz musicians who stumble upon a red-eyed child tied to a chair. While they’re thrown into a madcap chase across the Deep South, an international agent investigating the massacre of an Arctic fishing village follows a trail into the heart of the Congo, with an erratic female assassin in tow. The parallel stories converge amid corporate conspiracy, mutant animals and a cult of sword-wielding murderers. Seriously – doesn’t this sound pretty amazing? I think so.

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Secondly a book that I promised myself I’d read much sooner (*headdesk*) but – well, you know what ‘they’ say about the best laid plans (a phrase that might have been coined with me in mind). Legends of the Exiles (Perilisc) by Jesse Teller. Legends of the Exiles is a book with four intertwining novellas – here’s a taster of the description over on Goodreads:

The isolated barbarians of Neather have deep ancestry and strict traditions. Four resilient women defy tribal customs as they fight to overcome their own tragedies. Abuse. Addiction. Assault. Grief. What struggles can they endure to defend their hopes and their hearts?

And here is the gorgeous cover:

Legends

Yes, I’m hoping to pick this one up soon.

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My third choice is the second in a series known as the Woern Saga. A Wizard’s Sacrifice by A.M. Justice. I would point out that although this is the second in a series it can also be read without having read A Wizard’s Forge.

‘A gripping tale of wizardry, warfare, and moral dilemmas unspools in a breathtaking blend of fantasy and science fiction.

And, another stunning cover:

AWizards

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So my next book is literally staring me in the face in the most guilt inducing fashion possible. This is an author that I really like. And I actually went out of my way to request a copy of this book – and yet I still haven’t read it. Sometimes I just can’t believe myself. *hangs head dejectedly*. I can only try and do better. Enough about my guilt. This book sounds like something I will just love. I’m expecting it to be dark and a bit brutal.

No one escapes the Pit.

At just fifteen Eskara Helsene fought in the greatest war mankind has ever known. Fought and lost. There is only one place her enemies would send a Sourcerer as powerful as her, the Pit, a prison sunk so deep into the earth the sun is a distant memory. Now she finds herself stripped of her magic; a young girl surrounded by thieves, murderers, and worse. In order to survive she will need to find new allies, play the inmates against each other, and find a way out. Her enemies will soon find Eskara is not so easily broken.’

Also, just check out this absolutely drop dead gorgeous cover – no, I’m not fickle. Seriously I think Rob J Hayes has been blessed by the God of Great Covers.


Alongthe

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The final book I’m highlighting today is one that I’m very excited about. Again, yes, I’m late to pick this one up – but a very good author once said to me that author’s want book reviews all year round, not just on publication day – and I confess that that little eye opener does allow me to feel slightly less guilty than I might otherwise feel. This book is the final instalment in the Paternus Trilogy by Dyrk Ashton – War of Gods. And oh my giddy aunt but this book is receiving some of the most glowing reviews ever. If I don’t manage to carve out some time for this very soon I may literally explode, and nobody wants that. Check out the description and believe me when I say if you love fantasy, then you need this series in your life.

From Africa to Asgard, to an invisible island in the Pacific and the Bone Road of a forgotten world, Fi and Zeke must come to grips with not only their newfound abilities but also who they are – and accept what they are becoming: wielders of ancient and dangerous powers, warriors, and maybe even heroes. But the end of worlds is coming, and time is short.

Titans will clash. Gods will battle. Monsters will swarm.

Can Peter and the Deva possibly defeat their age-old enemy in the face of overwhelming odds against them? There’s only one way to find out.

And, dare I say it – another incredibly winning and dramatic cover:

WarofGods

That’s all for me for the moment. Hopefully, I’ll be reviewing some of these in the very near future.

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