Today is my stop on the blog tour for ‘Kept From Cages’ by Phil Williams organised by Storytellers on Tour, which is the first in the Ikiri duology. I hope that you will check out the book and the author, and enjoy the rest of the tour with the schedule in the banner below or (HERE). A massive thank you as well to Phil Williams for the physical copy of his fantastic book.
*Disclaimer: ‘I was given a copy this book in exchange for an honest review, all views are my own.’*
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
***** ***** *****
Urban fantasy is something that I don’t read enough off, and when it’s like Kept from Cages I have no excuses because this book was a wonderful twist on that brand of fantasy. Not, just because of the creepy mysteries, nasty critters and a sometimes-ongoing sense of – what the hell is going on?! (In the best way possible), but because this is a different type of ‘urban’. The settings switching beneath small towns in Texas and Louisiana (none of those big-city urban fantasy vibes to be found here) and the Congo, with stops along the way, places that you don’t tend to see in fantasy, and the variety was refreshing and interesting.
Especially, when paired with Williams ability to create such a vivid sense of place. It doesn’t matter where you are in the book, the setting bleeds into everything – background, plot and language – and is as much of a ‘character’ in this book, as the characters themselves (which is saying a lot, as the cast is a colourful lot). Each setting felt individual and believable, even with nasty critters and supernatural malarky going on, and I would happily have spent an entire book in each of those places, although I think Stilt Town has to be my favourite, just because I love the concept behind it. When talking about the sense of place (and the characters for that matter), you have to mention the way Williams use language, and while it took me a little while to get into the rhythm of it, it gave Kept from Cages another edge, not just because it was unique, but because it rang true and really immersed you in the world, the story, and the characters.
Speaking of the characters the Cutjaw Kids were fantastic, and from pitching into their life in the aftermath of a heist, you are immediately hooked into their story, because these ‘kids’ have character. Also, musician-gangsters? I was sold just on the concept and meeting them was even better, there’s banter, there’s weirdness and I just love the dynamics of the group. Across from the mayhem that is the Cutjaw kids, is the story of Agent Tasker whose work is wrapped in mystery and kicks off with a massacre that had me sitting up in my seat. He’s a great character in and of himself, but when he partners up with Katryzna that goes to new levels because she is such a fun character, unpredictable as hell and they play off one another beautifully.
Williams has done an excellent job of balancing all the different elements in this book. The sense of place is strong and beautifully done, and bleeds into everything without overwhelming it, the characters are well done, unique and memorable and then there is the plot. Kept from Cages is a thrill ride from start to finish, mayhem and action, balanced with an unfolding mystery to keep you needing to know more, turning more and more pages (one more chapter, becoming the rest of the book as I may have stayed up way too late to finish this one because I needed to know what was going on). Again, there is a wonderful balance between the fast-paced mayhem of everything that is happening, and quieter character moments, that not only allow us as the reader to catch our breath but are the moments when the characters really stand out and let us get to know them more.
Kept from Cages was a fantastic book, and even better it’s the first in a duology so there is more to come and I for one will be eagerly waiting the second. Williams has created something different in this book, and it made me laugh, shiver and perch on the edge of my chair waiting to see what would happen next.
About the Author:
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, two of which are regular best-sellers on Kindle. He lives with his wife by the coast in Sussex, UK, and spends a great deal of time walking his impossibly fluffy dog, Herbert.
If you’ve read it, or read it in the future, please feel free to shout at me about this fantastic book.