Author: Lyn Darrow | Publisher: Less Than Three Press
In Temperance City, the streets are ruled by spelled-up gangsters, whose magic turf wars serve as a constant backdrop to civilian life. With magic strictly regulated, Eli Coello—whip-smart jewelry salesman by day, sultry torch singer by night—has always found it advantageous to hide his magical affinity for ink.
All that goes up in smoke the day Eli is forced to use his magic to foil a jewelry heist, and in doing so unwittingly catches the eye of Duke Haven, leader of the fire-flinging Pyre gang. Seeing a useful asset, Duke promptly blackmails Eli into providing unregistered spellwork.
Duke needs Eli’s ink-magic to help him pull a dangerous con against a rival gang. As the heist comes together, Eli finds himself drawn deeper and deeper into the Temperance underworld—and, perhaps most dangerously, to Duke himself.
I’m rather on the fence about Pyre at the Eyrehole Trust. This was one I was excited about. And while there were plenty of things I liked about it, I just didn’t love it. I don’t have anything bad to say about it, I liked it, but I didn’t fall in love with the characters or the world.
Well, for starters, Pyre at the Eyreholme Trust opens on a killer first line: “Eli Coello broke a dozen laws a day, simply by going to work.” Take that as an example of how good the writing is – and it is good. The author has a wonderful command of language, which illustrates a cast of fun, quirky characters, and gives a real sense of the rather unusual world she has created.
The book has a strong 1920s prohibition theme. It’s an intriguing place to visit, with its glamourous realism, gangs and nightclubs and magic. I don’t think I’ve read anything else like it, and I enjoyed my sojourn in Lyn Darrow’s world. The language supports the world building and was well executed: lots of “goons”, “fellas” and “boss”. You get a strong sense of place almost immediately, and I thought the way magic had been folded into a real world setting was interesting.
The plot itself is well thought out and interesting, it clips along at a reasonable pace, and has a subtle touch of humour.
See what I mean? I really don’t have anything bad to say. I should have loved it, and I just didn’t! Honestly, I think I’ve just seen the treatment of the era done better. The language was a little cliché and it became wearing after awhile. Not everyone in the 1920s was a “wise guy”, and while the slang and idioms were obviously different from today, it would have benefited from a more subtle touch.
I have been told this book has LGBT themes, and I think I must have missed that. Surely, having gay characters is not the same as an LGBT theme? Perhaps I’m wrong. Certainly, the characters’ sexuality was not made an issue of; but I really can’t see why it would be. And romance of any kind or sexuality was not the main theme for me.
All in all, Pyre at the Eyreholme Trust had an interesting concept, which was well executed, it was fun, light and entertaining, and I thought drew its themes out quite cleverly. If you like YA Fantasy, I think you’d probably enjoy it.