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.

Cover Reveal : The Ordshaw Vignettes Vol 1 by Phil Williams

Today I’m really pleased and excited to be hosting a cover reveal for Phil Williams Ordshaw Vignettes.  You may have noticed the blog tour recently in which a number of bloggers shared small snippets of life from Ordshaw?  If not my post is here for a quick taster.

The Ordshaw Vignettes Vol. 1 is the collected short stories from Phil Williams’ recent blog tour, complementing the release of The Violent Fae. This eBook anthology includes 12 self-contained flash mysteries where strange goings-on impact the lives of otherwise ordinary (mostly!) people. All the stories are already available to read online, so this book is offered for convenience, and for the sake of a spangly new cover (because we all love a spangly new cover).

Note the eBook will be up on Amazon for a nominal fee, and will be shared free for members of Phil’s mailing list.

Anyway, enough chat, this is the part we really want to get to – THE COVER:

OV_M

I’ve included some useful links below and also here are the rest of the books in the series so you can check them all out together:

Useful links:

Amazon: (https://smarturl.it/eyvl6s)

GoodReads (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/48842405-the-ordshaw-vignettes-vol-1)

Author’s master post: https://phil-williams.co.uk/violent-fae-tour-ordshaw-vignettes/

Have fun reading everyone and thanks to Phil for including me in this reveal.

 

The Ordshaw Vignettes by Phil Williams

TVF Tour 02.jpg

Today I’m so happy to be taking part in a blog tour for the third book in Phil Williams urban fantasy series that got off to a great start with Under Ordshaw.  (My review of which can be found here.)

The violentfae.jpg

To celebrate the release of The Violent Fae, the closing chapter of the Ordshaw series’ The Sunken City Trilogy, Phil is sharing twelve short stories from the city of Ordshaw. The Ordshaw Vignettes are tiny insights into life in the UK’s worst-behaved city, each presenting a self-contained mystery.

You can read today’s story below.  For the full collection, visit the other wonderful blogs taking part in the tour (see the banner above).  I’ve provided the details for the other books in the series below plus a link to Phil’s author page but for now let’s get to the fun part – the story:

*

The Banker

Fighting the urge to run the light, Freddie Procter hit the brakes with a curse. West Farling, 2am on a Tuesday, there was no one around. The light had no business changing. And he’d been on the road too long already. He swallowed, reassuring himself it’d been worth it. The Chinese were a cinch for PickLathe Finance. Those rosy-cheeked tykes were drowning in giggles after five pints, delighted by Procter’s ability to hold alcohol, oblivious to the loan terms they’d agreed to.

That, my friends, was how you made millions.

Now if the light would kindly change, he could celebrate with another Macallan back home. But something metal clicked behind his ear. A sound familiar from films: a cocking gun.

“Don’t move,” a voice said. “Not one inch.” Procter flashed a look at the rear-view mirror, and the voice got rougher, “Eyes ahead, prick.”

Procter stuttered, “Look – look here – I don’t – don’t know –”

“Cram it!” the man snarled. “Wanna die here?” There had been nothing in the mirror. And the voice was strangely distant. How could someone possibly be – “I’ll put a hole in your brain, you don’t do exactly as I say.”

This couldn’t be happening. He couldn’t speak, and Procter talked huge deals all day – won over the hardest bastards –

“Phone, wallet, gaudy rings, all on the passenger seat. Longer you take, deeper it’ll hurt.”

His rattled body took over. Nodding as he emptied his pockets, Procter painfully wrenched the rings off.

“Now leave the keys and get the fuck out. Walk away, don’t look back. I see your eyes, there’s a bullet in them. Understand?”

Procter hadn’t stopped nodding. He grappled the door handle and tried to stand, trapped by the belt. With a high-pitched “Ah!”, he clawed at the release and fell onto the road. He skittered up, mouth moving voicelessly, mind raging: he could negotiate, why wasn’t he talking the lunatic down? But he was moving away fast. Half a block away.

The car revved loudly and he turned back.

The shining BMW crossed the intersection with the door still open, yellow interior light floating through the dark. There was no one inside. It jolted out of view, then came a loud bang of impact. Twisting metal screeched short pain as the engine coughed a death stroke.

Procter was running back – thoughts catching up. The idiot had crashed his car – amateur – he was not fleeing. He raced into the crossroad. The car’s bonnet was folded around a bent, sparking lamppost. The lights blinked on and off. It was empty. Thirty grand of machinery destroyed, no one to account for it.

What in hell? There was no one nearby – just the driver’s door open – but he saw on the passenger seat, his things were gone. All that remained was a drunk’s ruined ride and him standing confused. A click in his ear and an angry voice. A gun he never saw. Who would believe it?

To hell with this – Procter turned and ran again. He’d report the car stolen from home – to hell with this, and to hell with the faint peal of laughter somewhere in the sky. Ignore it and go – ignore that flurry of batwings passing a rooftop – he was imagining things, scaring himself, had to get the hell away. He was bloody drunk. Imagining, even that tiny, joking voice up high. “Told you you couldn’t damn drive.”

*

Ahh, don’t you just love the fae – probably not if they stole your valuables and crashed your car I suppose.  Although Freddie doesn’t exactly come across in the best light does he?!

I love this story and I think it gives a great feel for the style not to mention it’s a perfect little taste of what you can expect from the series.  I can’t wait to read the other stories being shared as part of the tour.  The next instalment is ‘The Troubled Child’ – colour me intrigued – and will be shared by Space and Sorcery tomorrow.

And, because I love covers, and because the covers for this series are so good, here is the complete set for you to feast your eyes upon:

Plus a lovely novella to add to the collection:

TheCityScreams.jpg

About Ordshaw and The Violent Fae

The Ordshaw series are urban fantasy thrillers set in a modern UK city with more than a few terrible secrets. The Violent Fae completes a story that began with Under Ordshaw and its sequel Blue Angel – following poker player Pax Kuranes’ journey into the Ordshaw underworld. Over the space of one week, Pax unravels mysteries that warp reality and threaten the entire city.

The Violent Fae will be available from Amazon on Kindle and in paperback from November 5th 2019.

If these vignettes are your first foray in Ordshaw, I’m pleased to share with you that Under Ordshaw is on offer on Kindle in the US and UK between 28th October – 1st November and for ease I’ve listed the links to Goodreads and Amazon below.

Under Ordshaw Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40092074-under-ordshaw

Under Ordshaw UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B07CXYSZVN

Under Ordshaw US: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07CXYSZVN

Blue Angel Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/43232280-blue-angel

Blue Angel UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B07L33XJZ7

Blue Angel US: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07L33XJZ7

The Violent Fae Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/48246084-the-violent-fae

The Violent Fae UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B07Y7CRV1L

The Violent Fae US: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07Y7CRV1L/

Finally – more information about the author can be found here.

Happy reading everyone.

#SPFBO Author, Cover Share: The City Screams by Phil Williams (An Ordshaw novella)

Today I’m really pleased to share with you the cover for a forthcoming novella written by Phil Williams.  The City Screams is a standalone novella set within the Urban Fantasy world that I first read of in Under Ordshaw.  You can find out more about the book below but first here’s the cover:

TheCityScreams

Tova’s getting her hearing back. She’s going to wish she wasn’t.

Alone in Tokyo for experimental ear surgery, Tova Nokes is finally shaking up her life. But when she starts to hear things she shouldn’t, all she wants is to make it home alive.

There’s a voice saying it’s where she comes from that makes her special.

If she can only survive violent stalkers, and the terrible screams, she might figure out why…

The City Screams is a stand-alone thriller in the Ordshaw urban fantasy series.

This sounds great and it’s due for release on 9th April.

Goodreads link provided here.

And, here are the first two books in Phil’s UF series and my review for Under Ordshaw:

 

#SPFBO Under Ordshaw by Phil Williams

Under OrdshawUnder Ordshaw was one of the nine books that I read completely from the first stage of the Self Published Fantasy Blog Off competition.  Urban fantasy is a genre that I really enjoy and this book was no exception.  The writing is on point, there’s a city with a labyrinth lying beneath full of monsters lurking in tunnels, an easy to engage with MC, cheeky fae and a secret undercover agency reminiscent of Men in Black.  What’s not to like?  This is an other book that had me going round in circles when it came to choosing a winner and I have no hesitation in recommending this.

As the story sets out we make the acquaintance of Pax who is brimming over with good humour following a successful card game.  She stops by a bar for a couple of celebratory drinks.  This win will fund her a stake in a large tournament and all going well help her pay the rent – maybe even win enough to be able to eat! Unfortunately, Pax’s luck is about to run out, her stash is stolen by a young man who appears to have been taken into custody by a secret Government Agency (the MEE).  Not content to sit by and brood Pax goes in search of the thief’s lair and in the process becomes embroiled even deeper in the secrets of the City.

In terms of world building. I think, in common with most UF I’ve read, this is minimal.  This is a modern world and an easily imagined city.  Where the difference comes into play is the labyrinth of tunnels that lies beneath.  There’s a whole other world going on here, one that I’m keen to explore further. The tunnels and their inhabitants have a monstrous and unique feel although at the moment I feel like we’ve barely scratched the surface at this point and it feels like there is plenty more to come in future instalments.

I really enjoyed the characters.  Pax is very easy to like.  She’s resourceful and basically decent.  I found myself immediately hooked to the story and I think that’s a testament to her strong and compelling voice.  On top of this we also encounter a very cheeky, 3 inch fae character called Letty.  Don’t let her short stature kid you – she means business.  The other two main characters are Casaria and Barton.  Casaria is an MEE agent.  He’s an odd character.  He doesn’t really follow rules very well and he has a very skewed perception of both himself and Pax – it makes for comic reading sometimes to read his dreamed up scenarios of how things will play out.  He comes across as something of a wild card and whilst Pax doesn’t trust him she seems to be able to play him well and keep him just on the right side of going totally AWOL.  Barton is a civilian who has been aware of the ‘goings on’ beneath the City for some time.  He’s kept his encounters with the tunnels a secret from his wife and daughter in an attempt to keep them safe but his family are about to be thrown into the middle of things with life threatening results.

The writing is sharp, the dialogue flows well and feels natural and the pacing is very good.  I didn’t have any lulls that I can recall and I was pretty much hooked to the story from start to finish.

In terms of criticisms.  I don’t really have anything – so you may be wondering is this a five star read?  I’d say this is four stars and that isn’t because of any issues I had at all with the read but more what I would call a symptom of UF and also a refelection of the future potential.  Personally, I feel that the first in any UF is the hook, there will always be areas left unexplored to be revealed in future story lines and in this instant I think the author sets the scene perfectly.  He doesn’t overload the story with too much detail or reveal too much at this stage, just enough to secure your interest and whet the appetite for what is to come next.  I think it takes restraint and a notion of what you intend in terms of the bigger picture and at the moment I’d say those elements are both clearly present.  Of course, this is a double edged sword, holding things in check can leave readers feeling that things haven’t been fully explored but, for me, I think Under Ordshaw succeeds really well as a first in series.

I would rate this as a 4 star read and I look forward to reading the second in series.

 

 

 

Next Page »