Updated: Sep 16
By: Lin Darrow [Lin Darrow’s Twitter]
Spoiler Free Review!
Punchy and explosive is what I'd call Pyre at the Eyreholme Trust. In a quick sum up, it's about a jewelry salesman, Eli Coello, who gets roped into a bank heist after being seen as a useful asset by Duke Haven, the leader of the Pyre Gang.
One of the strongest storytelling points of this story is how well paced it is. In a matter of in-story weeks, so much happens in such a succinct way. And part of that is because Darrow does an excellent job of 1) showing and not telling 2) giving the reader just enough to understand what’s needed.
The story is set in that 1920/30s gangster era with the slang to match. Instead of being bogged down by too many descriptors and possibly terms not everyone might know, the characters reveal a lot through dialogue with things like the ‘flickerbox’ or the nods to how important ink and paper are- all with fun 20s/30s slang to match. (And this might be a turn off for some that love reading tons of extra specific detail but this is my review so ssh.)
Following the theme of not being bogged down by details, Darrow does a fantastic job with her (assumed) ‘soft magic’ system. A soft magic system is just when the magic in the world lacks a precise set of guidelines that regulate magical use in the world. [ex: Spirited Away] As opposed to a hard magic system that has a set of strict established laws that regulate how magic is used in the world. [ex: Fullmetal Alchemist or Avatar the Last Airbender] And I say this is assumed because Darrow could have a very complex system, but in the story itself there doesn’t seem to be many rules to the magic. We’re given the knowledge that alongside paper and ink, people can manipulate glass and the elements. Are there more out there? Could be! And we also know that there’s one thing that can nullify these magic users, and enforcers to do so. Even after being introduced to magic users, this magic system provides an extra ambience giving the world a feeling of being full of potential. This story would have been just as effective without magic, but with it there’s an extra sense of flair, wonder, and excitement.
And that’s just all in the setting itself! The main story is also a whirlwind of vibrancy. It’s quick to drop us in Eli’s ever so stagnant and mindfully boxed up world, only to have it quickly toppled by new leader of the Pyre Gang, Duke Haven - a man that shakes the table and quite literally adds a spark to Eli’s life. An illegal spark, but that’s neither here nor there when the message that lingers throughout the story falls along the line of being ‘true to yourself’ and ‘not letting the world define you’. It makes one particular quote resonate:
“—people like you and me, we're risks first and people second.”
And that’s really the driving force of this story; Duke’s motivation, Eli’s demeanor, the risks the two take, etc. That quote shaped who they were as people in very different ways, so seeing just how they develop and grow based off the admiration they have for each other is both endearing and heartwarming. Not to mention, this relationship develops over the span of a few weeks because of the very important and very dangerous timeframe the two are under.
There’s so much more I could say about the book, but I’d be diving closer into spoiler territory and I want to give others the chance to read it and see for themselves. HOWEVER, I will say that one of my favorite things that happened -while a small point, is still incredibly hilarious- is a character deciding, after seeing a woman take down three gangsters, that he would in fact risk his life and job for that woman. A ‘meet-cute’ of the ages lol.
And the ending -I could say a lot about it to- but I will simply say that it was all wrapped up in a nice and neat bow, in the best way.
But that’s enough of me gushing about a book, definitely check it out. You can get it for free [Here] (And if this link stops working, check out Darrow’s twitter at the top!)
- Akira B.