I read a lot of historical fiction and a lot of thrillers but never have I read a book that combined both genres – until now.
Children of Fire by Paul CW Beatty
Children of Fire is set in 1841, at the height of the industrial revolution in the North West England. The story is told through the eyes of Josiah Ainscough, who returns from travels on the continent, and he 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 a policeman Josiah must uncover the truths behind the Children of Fire, and Josiah is forced to solve the puzzle of the violence loose in the Furness Vale, before more people die. Josiah is torn between his affections for Rachael, a leading member of the Children of Fire, and the vivacious Aideen Hayes, a visitor from Ireland. With more crimes unfolding rapidly, Josiah struggles to prevent a large illicit shipment of military grade gunpowder from getting to Ireland for use in terrorist attacks, and it becomes clear that he is out of his depth.
I really enjoyed Children of Fire, even if I was a bit sceptical at first. Not because of the storyline or book cover or anything like that, but because I made the mistake of reading other reviews first. While each to their own with book opinions, I thought this book was much, much better than the reviews let on.
What really had me intrigued by Children of Fire is that this is a story you don’t normally see in historical fiction. Yes, there was a hint of a love story but the book mostly dealt with Josiah investigating the murder of the leader of the Children of Fire. It’s an interesting storyline with several twists and turns that kept me on edge as any murder mystery in a more modern setting. Although, I must say that it was funny reading the old policing style of the time. If this was a case taking place in today’s world, it would have been investigated in no time.
Beatty also took the time to mention the Catholic/Protestant divide of Ireland at the time. This added a very interesting element to the story. At the same time it showed just how long this struggle has been happening. Saddening to read.
Overall, Children of Fire was a great book. It was a new form of historical fiction I hope to read again. Let me know if you have any recommendations in the comments below.
I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.