A Flicker of Steel by Steve McHugh #BookReview #BlogTour

Avalon stands revealed, but the war is far from over. For Layla Cassidy, it has only just begun.
Thrust into a new world full of magic and monsters, Layla has finally come to terms with her supernatural powers—and left her old life behind. But her enemies are relentless.
Sixteen months after her life changed forever, Layla and her team are besieged during a rescue attempt gone awry and must fight their way through to freedom. It turns out that Avalon has only grown since their last encounter, adding fresh villains to its horde. Meanwhile, revelations abound as Layla confronts twists and betrayals in her own life, with each new detail adding to the shadow that looms over her.
As Layla fights against the forces of evil, her powers begin to increase—and she discovers more about the darkness that lies in her past. As this same darkness threatens her future, will she be ready to fight for everything she holds dear?

I'm honoured to be closing the blog tour for A  Flicker of Steel by Steve McHugh today. My heartfelt thanks to the author, publishers and Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me and for my copy of the novel.
Having come late to Steve McHugh's Hellequin Chronicles series when I read the final book in the series Scorched Shadows last year, I jumped at the chance to begin his new series, the Avalon Chronicles from the beginning and loved A Glimmer of Hope when I read it in March. I've been eagerly awaiting the next instalment ever since and from the very start of A Flicker of Steel I knew I was in for more top quality urban fantasy.
It's worth saying here that though I'm sure A Flicker of Steel can be thoroughly enjoyed as a standalone, I would recommend reading A Glimmer of Hope first if possible as this is a sequel rather than a separate story. For newcomers to the series, Layla Cassidy is an umbra since she inadvertently activated an ancient spirit scroll giving her immense powers. However, it also meant she now has three spirits and a demon living inside her and to access the full extent of her power she must merge with them entirely. She learned that what she thought were myths and legends are real; familiar faces from Camelot and Ancient Greece, werewolves, dwarves, ogres and sorcerers all exist - although  just who the heroes and villains really are isn't as clear cut as the stories would have had us believe...
It's sixteen months since Layla was thrust into this world and in this time she has come to terms with her new life and her abilities. She has honed her powers and become a valuable member of the resistance who strive to fight Avalon before they become too powerful to overcome. Humans are no longer in the dark about Avalon's existence after its leader, Arthur exposed non-humans to the world. Governments have willingly ceded control with the people believing that Avalon will protect humanity. A Flicker of Steel opens as it means to go on, with Layla and friends about to carry out what she describes as "an astonishingly bad plan." Sure enough, they soon find themselves in the thick of it again as the fast-paced story sees them race from one violent confrontation to another.
There is so much packed into this story that it's quite hard to know where to begin; this is such a thrilling novel with more explosions, more violence and even more horrible ways to die. There's an awful lot of really brutal hand to hand combat, with more punches thrown in this book than in a boxing ring and the characters have some gruesomely imaginative ways to kill one another. There are some jaw-dropping twists as well, I was absolutely shocked by some of the revelations. Though the excitement never lets up, character develop is never sacrificed and for me, one of the (many) strengths of this series is just how invested I have become in the lives and relationships of this disparate group of rebels. Layla is such a wonderful character, a proper kick-ass heroine who still has to struggle with her feelings about her unconventional upbringing - something that she will have to face up to sooner or later with both sides trying to take control of her serial killer father. She's not the only strong female character however and I love how her best friends Chloe and Kase, Diana the werebear and even Persephone face the same dangerous situations as the male characters. I was delighted too, to see that my favourite character, Remy the wise-cracking fox-human hybrid returns and is as brilliantly inappropriate as ever. The villains are equally as well drawn, old enemies return bearing grudges and there are some particularly nasty new faces they must pit their wits and skills against too.
It's clear by the end of A Flicker of Steel that there is so much more to come. Though some enemies have been dispatched, the world remains in chaos. Layla's progression from the start of A Glimmer of Hope to the conclusion of A Flicker of Steel has been so engrossing and I can't wait to see what lies in store for her. With its sharp wit and snappy pop culture references, superb character development, vividly described and immersive action scenes and a beautifully crafted story arc, this is urban and mythological fantasy at its absolute finest. I suspect I've already made it clear just how much I loved this book but just in case there is any doubt, I honestly cannot recommend this  fabulous novel  - and series - highly enough. Absolutely brilliant!

A Flicker of Steel is published by 47North and can be purchased here. Don't forget to check out the previous stops on the blog tour, details are below.

About the Author
Steve's been writing from an early age, his first completed story was done in an English lesson. Unfortunately, after the teacher read it, he had to have a chat with the head of the year about the violent content and bad language. The follow up 'One boy and his frog' was less concerning to his teachers and got him an A.

It wasn't for another decade that he would start work on a full length novel, the result of which is Crimes Against Magic.

He was born in a small village called Mexborough, South Yorkshire, but now lives with his wife and three young daughters in Southampton.
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