From the moment the first settler dug a well and struck a lode of shine, the world changed. Now, everything revolves around that magical oil.

What began as a simple scouting expedition becomes a life-changing ordeal for Arlen Esco. The son of a powerful mogul, Arlen is kidnapped and forced to confront uncomfortable truths his father has kept hidden. In his hands lies a decision that will determine the fate of everyone he loves—and impact the lives of every person in Shine Territory.

The daughter of an infamous saboteur and outlaw, Cassandra has her own dangerous secrets to protect. When the lives of those she loves are threatened, she realizes that she is uniquely placed to change the balance of power in Shine Territory once and for all.

Secrets breed more secrets. Somehow, Arlen and Cassandra must find their own truths in the middle of a garden of lies.

The Review

This book has an absolutely gorgeous cover. Like all Sarah Chorn’s books. I actually find the covers a little intimidating, because it’s hard to live up to designs that pretty. But I have to say, and this basically says whatever a full review could: this book and that lovely cover are brilliantly paired. It’s an excellent impression of what to expect inside and a book that totally deserves that wrapping.

But okay we can go into more detail anyway.

Of Honey and Wildfires is a rather different kind of fantasy book, with a Wild West-esque setting but a focus on familial relationships and frontier power struggles, rather than on gunfighting or magical quests. As a fan of the old-school, brooding kind of poetic Westerns myself, I loved the way this played out in a slow but lyrical way. It steeps you in atmosphere and emotion rather than action, reminding me of the likes of the more operatic Spaghetti Westerns, where the tensely-building violence punctuates rather than permeates the story.

The drama here circles around a single homestead near a frontier town, where we variously follow the big company man’s son (coming from out of town to take care of some business), the daughter of an outlaw (attempting to lead a normal life amids woes of being an outcast), and a woman with chronic illness. These stories are on a collision-course set against a backdrop with an original twist on the concept of digging for oil. It leans towards the fantastic, making the whole scenario that much more (literally) colourful – but where the book succeeds best is in delving into the tumultuous lives of the central characters. Its grim but hopeful, sad but looking towards the light.

And it’s all handed both delicately and with a steady, deliberate sense of pace. It’s got an interesting structure and some really nice turns of phrase, with just enough quirks to keep things flowing without getting in the way. I can imagine this is a book you need to time right, though, to be ready for it, but if you’re in the mood for an emotional journey with a lot of heart, evocative and inventive prose, and some clever twists in both the story and setting, then it should hit the mark. As a change of pace for me, delving in and out of more frantic and superficial stories, I welcomed it and heartily recommend it.

About the Reviewer

Phil Williams is an author of contemporary fantasy and dystopian fiction, including the Ordshaw urban fantasy thrillers and the post-apocalyptic Estalia series. He also writes reference books to help foreign learners master the nuances of English.

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


About Kept From Cages (Ikiri #1)

No one returns from Ikiri.

Reece’s gang of criminal jazz musicians have taken shelter in the wrong house. There’s a girl with red eyes bound to a chair. The locals call her a devil – but Reece sees a kid that needs protecting. He’s more right than he knows.

Chased by a shadowy swordsman and an unnatural beast, the gang flee across the Deep South with the kid in tow. She won’t say where she’s from or who exactly her scary father is, but she’s got powers they can’t understand. How much will Reece risk to save her?

On the other side of the world, Agent Sean Tasker’s asking similar questions. With an entire village massacred and no trace of the killers, he’s convinced Duvcorp’s esoteric experiments are responsible. His only ally is an unstable female assassin, and their only lead is Ikiri – a black-site in the Congo, which no one leaves alive. How far is Tasker prepared to go for answers?

Kept From Cages is the first part in an action-packed supernatural thriller duology, filled with eccentric characters and intricately woven mysteries. Start your journey to Ikiri today.