*I received a free ARC of this book with thanks to the author. The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*
Blurb: What’s under the city?
Will the answer get her killed?
Pax thought she knew the dark side of Ordshaw. A poker pro who hustles bankers and gangsters, she can take care of herself. But she’s about to discover the shadows hide far worse than criminals.
When a thief steals her bankroll, it could cost Pax her home. Following his trail unearths a labyrinthine mystery that could cost Pax her life.
People have disappeared simply for realising what’s lurking under Ordshaw.
To get her life back, Pax needs to go much further than that.
You’ll love this urban fantasy thriller, because it’s packed with clever twists, compelling characters and creatures that’ll keep you up all night.
Get it now.
I found Under Ordshaw are bit difficult to get into at the beginning, as all of the characters are prickly arseholes. Luckily they grew on me once I got to know them a bit better.
Just a few pages in and I was utterly hooked on this urban fantasy, with its fresh take on old favourites like fairies and monsters. The worldbuilding of Layer Fae, the Blue Angel and the MEE is superb and really draws the reader into the story, and the characters: Pax, Letty, Barton and Casaria really grow on you, even as it remains unclear where they fit on the moral spectrum! The development of characters from ‘goodie’ to ‘baddie’ and vice versa is often surprising and yet evolves naturally from the situations and personalities.
The tone is a little bit Buffy, a little bit Simon R. Green, a little bit Grimm, a little bit Charles de Lint. There is a nice balance of whimsy and arsekicking; humour and horror; strong language and witty banter, that really worked to keep the story moving in new directions. And the monsters are pretty horrific. Think of video games like Resident Evil, Silent Hill or Forbidden Siren, but with your brain filling in the details with your own worst imaginings. Definitely a couple of lights-on, covers-up moments!
I particularly love the little touches of realism that made the characters feel authentic: Holly looking for a man in authority that she can tell off to control her fear; Pax lacking mysterious ‘Chosen One’ fighting skills or magical powers and just tackling the job in front of her with what she has (mad bluffing skills and an attitude); Casaria persuading himself that it’s his upper brain doing the thinking when it comes to Pax; Letty’s rage in general. All those little touches that pull the reader into living the story instead of merely reading it.
At times it did feel like I was missing a previous instalment that explains the history between Asphodel, Rufaizu, Barton, Dr Mandy and the Layer Fae. Phil Williams filters in the need-to-know details as the story unfolds, but I still had a lingering sense that I had missed something that would have enriched the Barton thread of this story. Amazon assures me that this is Book 1 in the series, but maybe the author could be tempted into a prequel novella or two…?!
Basically my only complaint is that I want more Sunken City, and luckily there is already a sequel available, plus a short story and novella set in the same universe. I wholeheartedly recommend this book to fellow urban fantasy enthusiasts and will be definitely be adding Phil William’s Ordshaw series to my personal must-read list!
The book lay open on a sketch of an Underground train surrounded by what looked like lightning. There were people in the windows, with shaded doubles of themselves lifting from their bodies, as though something was pulling their souls out.
The evocative artwork made her frown. She read Rufaizu’s marginal comment: Minotaur’s Grasp. Does this even need explaining?
“Yes, it needs explaining, you dick,” Pax grumbled, turning the page to see if there was any more.
– Phil Williams, Under Ordshaw
Under Ordshaw is available on Amazon right now!