Now, before I start, full disclosure. When I saw this come up for review, I nearly snatched Rachel’s hand off (the wonderful lady who organises all of these blogs). Why I hear you cry?
Well, because, when I was starting out I attended Swanwick, a summer school for budding writers in the heart of Derbyshire. Paul was also there. I had written approx 12000 words of Naked Truths and he’d written a few more of Children of Fire. We were both mentored by the same wonderful author and BBC journalist, Simon Hall. And guess what, we were both told, by him, that our works were excellent and really had what it took.
Who would have thought that there could be two books that were more totally different that had such similar prospects.
Nor two writers for that matter. But, fate be as it may, Paul and I buddied up for the rest of the school, chatting calmly like old friends about the whys of the world — he’s infinitely more intelligent than I am by the way, and I went to him for advice on a heart condition that is featured in Naked Truths shortly after returning from Swanwick. He never needed to ask me anything about the research he was doing for his book.
Which brings me to my next point, how incredibly detailed the historical information is in Children of Fire. He was worried about when to call it a day with the research and about falling into the trap that many authors do of information dumping. I can tell you now, that is NOT what he has done. He has woven an intricate story with truths and shady shenanigans in such a way that not once do you question why one piece of information has been included.
And this brings me to my next point. The genre. Sure, it’s historical fiction without a doubt, but I’ve already mentioned that this isn’t my usual kind of read and it was more my attachment to this beautiful, kind and gentle man that brought me to be reviewing this book. But, I thoroughly enjoyed it. It could have been a who-done-it in any era, the plot keeps you guessing right to the end and not once did I consider the tone too heavy or highbrow for my less serious entertainment needs.
Honestly, if you’re looking for something different to read, then go ahead. Children of fire is a delight.
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.
Can Josiah put together the pieces of the puzzle, or is he out of his depth? Children of Fire won the Writing Magazine’s Best Novel Prize for 2017.
About the author
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.