Review | Under Ordshaw – Phil Williams

About the Book

Welcome to Ordshaw. Don’t look down.

Pax is one rent cheque away from the unforgiving streets of Ordshaw. After her stash is stolen, her hunt for the thief unearths a book of nightmares and a string of killers, and she stands to lose much more than her home.

There’s something lurking under her city.

Knowing it’s there could get you killed.

Published March, 2021
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Under Ordshaw only came on my radar recently. I’ve been on a bit of an urban/contemporary fantasy kick, and this one seemed to fit the bill. Plus, I was intrigued by the idea of a city under the city that no one really knows about. I’ve never encountered that in fantasy before, and it seemed like it could either be extremely messy, or extremely well done. 

Call me curious.

Under Ordshaw starts out with a bang. Our protagonist, Pax, ends up winning big in a card game. Then, stuff happens and she immediately loses her winnings. From there, things really get rolling. Pax finds herself embroiled in myriad of issues. Things happen with numerous people in numerous places (Yeah, I’m being vague on purpose.). It’s a lot of fun but it’s also A LOT. If you aren’t paying close attention, you could get lost and confused very easily. I’d say, really makes sure you really focus in on the first half of the book. If you miss something, you could easily lose the thread and get confused.

So, pay attention.

Aside from that, once I made sure I was buckled up and strapped in, when the book took off (which it did, like two pages in. Just off and racing.) I really enjoyed the ride. There was never a dull moment (literally). Always something happening somewhere, with someone. Sometimes it did get a bit overwhelming, but all in all, I found the book to be really well paced for something that covered so much action. The plot was just as diverse as the world and cast, which really thrilled me. I was never quite sure what was going to happen.

The world building and characters were the highlight of the book. The way Williams handled the city under the city was superb. The entire idea just intrigued me, and once we get to the point where we go into the city under Ordshaw, and see all the fantasy creatures that dwell down there, I discovered that some of my favorite characters are the ones that are infused with fantasy. They had some of the most realistic, believable voices and I loved the sarcastic humor.

Further, I absolutely loved how Williams infused his reality with fantasy, truly elevating this story from an urban fantasy to something that almost feels a genre all its own. The idea of an underground fantasy city underneath a city full of unsuspecting inhabitants was really a delight to explore. 

The characters were amazing as well. I instantly loved Pax’s voice. She was witty and snarky, fiercely independent. She thinks before she acts, and has a good head on her shoulders. She’s balanced out nicely by many of the people/creatures she meets along the way, like Letty, a badass fairy with a foul mouth and a bit of a more act-then-think persona. Each character, however, had their own recognizable voice, and their own place in the story.

Williams did a great job at offering readers nuggets of information at the proper times. The plot zooms by, making this book feel like a really quick read, but he is good at stringing readers along, delivering at the right moments. I was having fun with all of those “wait… OH!” occasions throughout the book.

Under Ordshaw was an amazing book. A really solid introduction to a complex world. Fantastic characters and absolutely superb worldbuilding combine to make this breakneck plot something you won’t forget. This is a brilliant start to a series I am dying to read. If you’re an urban fantasy fan, don’t mind gritty realism and plenty of sarcastic humor, you need to do yourself a favor and read Under Ordshaw.

You can thank me later. 

4/5 stars