Can Josiah solve the puzzle before more people die, or is he out of his depth?
In 1841, at the height of the industrial revolution in the North West of England, Josiah Ainscough returns from his travels and surprises everyone by joining the Stockport Police Force, rather than following his adopted father’s footsteps into the Methodist ministry.
While Josiah was abroad, five men died in an explosion at the Furness Vale Powder Mill. Was this an accident or did the Children of Fire, a local religious community, have a hand in it. As Josiah struggles to find his vocation, his investigation into the Children of Fire begins. But his enquiries are derailed by the horrific crucifixion of the community’s leader.
Now Josiah must race against time to solve the puzzle of the violence loose in the Furness Vale before more people die. This is complicated by his affections for Rachael, a leading member of the Children of Fire, and the vivacious Aideen Hayes, a visitor from Ireland.
- Book Birthday Blitz Press Release
You must remain calm.
- First Sentence; Chapter 1: Beginnings
As he put down the notebook and looked up, Rachael came running round the corner of the barn. She had lost her cap and her golden hair had come undone. For a moment, the vision captivated Josiah. He thought that heer hair looked like a shower of gold but the vision abruptly vanished when he saw her face. She was running in desperation, tears streaming down her her cheeks. She neartly knocked him over as she threw her arms round him.
'Rachael, what is it?'
'Come... Come Josiah... It is terrible... Come with me, please,' she kissed his hand and pulled at his arm imploring him like a child. ' ...Peter needs your help... Please come... It is the Devil's work.'
- Memorable Moment; Page 39
SOURCE ... Received with thanks from Tour organiser Rachel.
READ FOR A CHALLENGE? ... No.
MY THOUGHTS ... If I were to list in order of importance the things that made a novel for me way up there would be the characters. Not that I have to 'like' them (in fact some of my favourite characters have been totally unlikable) but I do have to feel something for them and I'm afraid, their voices bland and expressionless, I found myself unable to connect with any of them, and alas this is where Children Of Fire fell flat for me.
Other than that ...
Obviously a thoroughly researched work of historical fiction. Perhaps a tad too heavy on detail at times ... but then I guess it all depends on where your interests lies (and as it turns mine doesn't necessarily lie in the methods used to make 'black powder'). However, take the Industrial Revolution, a police force in its infancy, the then unrest in Ireland (not a combination to generally feature in Historical Fiction I'm sure you'll agree) and throw in a religious community (I did enjoy the author's exploration of why it is people need some form of redemption interesting reading), a murder mystery and something of a romance and, well, ...
Despite the fact that I sussed on fairly early just who-dun-it, I felt that the murder mystery at the heart of the novel was the book's strongest aspect; the twist in the tale just when you thought things weren't going anywhere perfectly timed, the fact that its written in the present tense adding to the drama.
Something I can (generally speaking) either take or leave; whilst I'd have been more surprised if there hadn't been some kind of romantic entanglement I thought the notion of a 'love triangle' a surprising and yet gripping introduction to the plot. That the author uses vivacious visitor from Ireland Aideen to introduce the notion of the unrest in Ireland; that the marked differences between her and Children of Fire devotee Rachael causes main character Josiah to question his faith, heck, his very way of life, genius.
ABOUT PAUL CW BEATTY ... Paul CW Beatty is an unusual combination of a novelist and a research scientist. Having worked for many years in medical research in the UK NHS and Universities, a few years ago he took an MA in Creative Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University emerging with a distinction.
His latest novel, Children of Fire, is a Victorian murder mystery set in 1841 at the height of the industrial revolution. It won the Writing Magazine’s Best Novel Award in November 2017 and is published by The Book Guild Ltd.
Paul lives near Manchester in the northwest of England. Children of Fire is set against the hills of the Peak District as well as the canals and other industrial infrastructure of the Cottonopolis know as the City of Manchester.
SOCIAL MEDIA LINK ... Twitter
PARTICIPATING BLOGS ...