Title: Pyre at the Eyreholme Trust
Author: Lin Darrow
Publisher: Self-Published (2nd Edition)
Category: Historical Fantasy
At a Glance: Magic, intrigues, blackmail, double-crosses and fun all come together in a 1920s gangland setting born from Lin Darrow’s imagination. I’d have happily read many more pages of story set in the seamy and sensational Temperance City.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: 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 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.
Review: It’s been a minute since I’ve read a book I would say was purely fun. That dry spell has ended, though, with Lin Darrow’s Pyre at the Eyreholme Trust. This book is fun and chock-full of magic along with a 1920s gangster vibe, all the way down to its setting—Temperance Town—and I’d have greedily read many more pages than were offered up in the story.
Eli Coello may appear to be just a mild-mannered jewelry salesman by day, but as we all know, appearances can be deceiving. In reality, he is a gifted inkman, meaning he can manipulate the written word, literally can lift the ink from the paper it is printed on, which comes in handy when he himself can use it to manipulate and commit a bit of extortion himself, purely for self-preservation purposes, of course, because he is also unregistered, which means using his magic is illegal. When a stranger strolls into the shop with his band of thieves, and, at the time unbeknownst to Eli, that stranger waltzes deliberately into Eli’s life, things get more than a little interesting. If not a bit sticky as well. Duke Haven is the leader of the Pyre gang, a fireman, which does not mean he fights fires. It means he is fire. Fire is Duke’s power, and he turns up the heat on Eli when he threatens to expose the inkman’s magic. Not to mention that Duke learns a secondary secret about Eli, that Eli is gender fluid, and in the evenings she moonlights as a torch singer at a club owned by the leader of the Canary (who else?) gang.
As a plot that consists of bribery, thievery, blackmail, illicit underground activities, betrayal and corruption unfolds, Darrow incorporates it all into a growing bond between Duke and Eli: one that is composed of deception and guilt, which makes the duplicity all the more complicated as a change of heart and feelings between them emerges. This is not an angsty story, though. The resolution to the various double-crosses isn’t drawn out for maximum conflict, so things remain firmly in the ‘delightful escapades’ category. The notorious matriarch of the powerful Vellum gang plays into the story in a significant way in the climax of the story, too, and to see Eli get the upper hand there was satisfying in a number of ways.
Lin Darrow has generously offered up Pyre at the Eyreholme Trust, previously published through Less Than Three Press, through Gum Road. Readers can get this story for free, if they choose, but the donation I made for the book was more than worth the support of the author’s art as well as my own enjoyment.
You can buy/download Pyre at the Eyreholme Trust here:
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6 thoughts on “Review: Pyre at the Eyreholme Trust by Lin Darrow”
This is (truly) the first time I’ve ever purchased a book direct from the author, much less be asked to set my own price…in Canadian dollars. What constitutes a “novella” has a wide range of definitions. Would you be so kind as to post a reply telling me (and other readers of the review) the word count for the novella? Or a page-count? (Mass market paperback books range from 250-300 words per page, generally.) Thanks. Eric
Good morning, Eric!
I couldn’t find a word/page count anywhere online, but I can tell you that my Kindle measures its end at location 1411, if that helps.
Thanks for the try, Lisa. Although Ms. Darrow is listed at GoodReads, she provides no method of contact, e.g., P.M. A Google search doesn’t reveal any method of contact, either. At the moment, then, Ms. Darrow has lost a sale. This book sounds intriguing, and something I’d really like to read. But a “fair price” for a 20,000 word novella is not necessarily the same amount as for a 50,000 word novella. (That range is one that shows up fairly often as part of someone’s definition of a novella.)
MS. DARROW: If by chance you read this excellent review and these comments, please chime in and let me know word count or page length, so I can indeed pay an appropriate fair price. Thanks.
Lisa, again thanks for your review and your time.
Okay, as a quick comparison, I just looked at an ARC of a novella I just read that’s listed by the author as 103 pages, and ends on my Kindle at location 1346.
If that can be used as a somewhat accurate guide, “Pyre” clocks in at over 100 pages long :)
I was afraid to read this review because I knew I’d want to read and do I really need another book?!? Yes, yes I do 🤪
I feel this comment in deeply personal ways! Lol