Jen reviews Dyer Street Punk Witches, the latest standalone Urban Fantasy novel from the Ordshaw series by Phil Williams. We also have an extra treat for those who stick around until the end of the review!
Huge thank you goes out to Phil Williams for the ecopy! It’s always a pleasure to return to Ordshaw.
|Series: Ordshaw #7 standalone||Genre: Urban Fantasy Thriller|
|Date of Publishing: September 12, 2022||Trigger Warnings: gang violence, drugs/drinking witchcraft|
|Page count: 254||Publisher: self-published|
Kit hung up her brass knuckles, but the shadows of her past lingered. Now they’re back to claim her.
Kit “Fadulous” Hamley, magazine editor, activist and former punk rocker, is a well-known loudmouth in St Alphege’s. She works tirelessly to hold local authorities to account. Some say she’s making up for her criminal youth. Others spread rumours of witchcraft. Only a handful of people know how dark her secrets really are.
When an old friend warns Kit that a former rival has resurfaced, those secrets start to resurface. People have gone missing, with body parts and strange symbols left behind, and someone is stalking Kit. The gang she abandoned are scared stiff and her magic-wielding bandmates are long gone. Kit herself is a target, and if she can’t unravel exactly how this new feud connects with her past mistakes, it could kill her.
Decades older, a little wiser, and contrary as ever, Kit’s going to remind them all what a punk witch can do.
Get ready for a riotous ride into the seedy underbelly of St Alphege’s, where gang warfare and occult conspiracies tear ordinary lives apart. Dyer Street Punk Witches is a standalone urban fantasy thriller, packed with tough, subversive characters and tense twists – you won’t be able to put it down.
“We can’t bring him back,” Kit said, taking all her nerve to keep her voice steady. “We don’t know how to heal things. Only how to break them.” Bill’s nostrils expanded with rage, chest swelling like he might explode. Finally, he spoke calmly, assured. “Then you’ll do damage. You’ll make them pay for this. If it’s the last thing you do.”
I knew a couple of chapters in which song I was picking. The author’s notes only cemented the rightness of my choice.
Of course, it had to be Pat Benatar‘s Bad Reputation.
Dyer Street Punk Witches is Phil Williams’ newest standalone entry into the many branches of his Ordshaw universe.
Once upon a time Kit, was a rebellious girl who wanted it all. She wanted to put her band on the map, wanted recognition, wanted to be the difference.
Now, older, wiser, and tempered with regrets, Kit, is still fighting for that change. These days, she does what she can as an Influencer; channeling her desire to be heard, and fighting The Man through her magazine, Incite.
Williams brings magic to the modern world – In this case, gang wars backed by witches, in the toughest part of Ordshaw. And it’s fast and fun, with just a hint of creepiness, and is everything I have come to love about his stories.
The Dyer Street Punk Witches‘ cast of characters and the locales are on the smaller side and I really like the more intimate feel to this story. As fun as Kept From Cages was – with its globetrotting locations – I prefer this sort of setting for giving us time to really get to know the characters. (The City Screams also had a smaller focus and was another favourite of mine)
Williams has a gift for bringing alive characters that are just a teeny bit broken, and on top of that, he’s darned good at writing strong ladies. I find his characters are easy to connect to because, on some level, I can recognize an aspect of myself in them.
Kit is closer to my age. Though I was quite a few years too young for the punk-rock age, there is still a bit of nostalgia that carries through the story for me, having grown up near that time (and music). And also because of Kit, and her friends – who were going to conquer their world, and it fell apart – leaving us with this wistful feeling of life has moved on – along with those big dreams and opportunities.
Aaron is magic sensitive. He lives his life trying to pretend he isn’t a basket-case of anxiety, every day of it. After Kit saves him, he becomes somewhat obsessed with getting to know her and applies to her magazine, Incite. He kind of hero-worships Kit, he is drawn to her because she is everything, he wishes he could be.
There are other great characters in Mads, Clover, Ellie, and Drew, among a few that I will let you discover on your own.
I love the friendships – past and present. The sacrifices and secrets, and the way the story unfolds with the contradictions that make you wonder who is being honest with whom.
The story plays back and forth on the timeline with the past being filled in mostly in the epigraphs – where we see the rebellious young Kit and the choices that changed everything and everyone around her.
I have become a huge fan of the little window stories in epigraphs these days, and William uses them expertly, to fill in the background with tidbits. Combining them with the info in the body of the story, they help build the past events to their downfall, while setting the mood and tone – letting the here and now pace and stay moving along. It works so well for me – as someone who likes a less-is-more approach to worldbuilding and imparting past events – especially ones that so easily can become info-dumps.
I know I haven’t talked much about the plot or the big bad and there is a reason for that – everything is tied-up in the characters! This is not just a mystery and resurfacing gang wars. It’s friendships, love and loss, and growing pains. Longing for better, while sabotaging your own chances of having it, because of either being too scared or deep down believing it isn’t deserved.
In short, Dyer Street Punk Witches is about confronting a past that will never let go, until you turn and face it – forgive and move on. It’s the kind of storytelling that I eat up with a spoon because it’s like a fun beach read with a few lessons we can take home for ourselves. What a great story!
Dyer Street Punk Witches is my new favourite entry into the Ordshaw Universe – the characters made this one a huge win for me.
As an extra treat, Phil Williams kindly shared one of his cool character cards he produced for the release of Dyer Street Punk Witches with us so we can show it to you! Look at it and tell us you don’t want to know more about him and the book!