Stilts (Tessa Dark Trilogy #1) by Tim O’Rourke


Stilts ResizedOh wow! Stilts has blown my mind!!! Such an original idea combined with the need to survive in this great dystopian adventure and not without the conflicts of character,  along with a sweet romantic element. Needless to say, I absolutely LOVED this story from beginning to end! Yes, Tim O’Rourke has done it again with his fascinating imagination for story and characters as well as his ability to keep the reader constantly surprised!

‘Stilts’ is the first book in a new dystopian trilogy by #1 bestselling author Tim O’Rourke.

While eighteen-year-old, Tessa Dark was serving her prison sentence for murder, the world beyond her cell walls changed forever. The thunder came and destroyed the world she had once known. 

Trapped inside the prison and faced with no future, Tessa’s only glimmer of hope is her friendship with fellow inmate Joe McBride. 

Despite Tessa’s fear, Joe decides to go beyond the prison walls to seek help. But when he fails to return, Tessa is determined to go and search for him. 

To gain her freedom, Tessa must first learn to walk, run, and fight on stilts if she is to survive the new and terrifying world on the other side of the prison walls.

When I looked at the words ‘Chapter One’ and read the first sentence “My elbow crunched into his face” it had me straight away. And that is a great example of Tim’s writing, direct, to the point and providing plenty of curiosity for the reader to want (and have) to read on!

The concept of the stilts is a very original idea. Before reading the book I was a little unsure of how this idea could be used in a believable way but I have to say it does work and it works brilliantly! The stilts are used to help the prisoners to survive. And the main focus of ‘Stilts’ is the need to survive for the sake of mankind. Trapped in a prison, it isn’t too long before supplies run out and in order to leave for more they need some way to try and avoid being attacked by Scorchers. Elements of the story early on reminded me a little of ‘The Walking Dead’ tv series. However, instead of zombies here we have Scorchers who have an easy ability to melt/scorch anything they touch.

The turning point is certainly when Joe leaves the prison in the hope of bringing back help. When he doesn’t return hope seems lost. The reader really experiences the rawness of  Tessa’s determination to be able to find Joe and help for all of the inmates. These are desperate times and Tessa will do anything for a chance to find Joe. During Tessa’s adventure the reader is not hidden from the destruction and horror in which the thunderstorm has created. Many of the scenes involving the Scorchers are edge-of-your-seat, nail-biting, excruciating excitement. All of the action scenes are intense, dramatic and gory at times.

Tessa is a great heroine and, for me, not too unlike Keira Hudson from Tim’s Keira Hudson series. Tessa is a strong, decisive, young woman who, when challenged in some pretty terrifying ordeals, she rises above with her head held high and gives it what she’s got. I love her energy, her practicality and her drive. However, unlike Keira, Tessa has been on the wrong side of the law and trouble has come to her. ‘Stilts’ is told from Tessa’s point of view and reads like a narrative, allowing the reader to always be with Tessa and understand all of her thoughts and feelings.

Joe is adorable. Although very much a character to keep himself to himself, especially after past experiences, he almost has no option but to try and fit in after realising there are only those within the prison walls that have been unaffected by the change of the world. It isn’t too long before he finds a friend in Tessa and as their relationship blossoms so do the romantic gestures and dialogue. The writing is truly beautiful, so sweet and heartwarming. It certainly pulls on the heartstrings and the reader could lose a tear or two!

An example of a romantic moment between Tessa and Joe is when Tessa realised Joe had been keeping a CD player in secret:-

‘“Why didn’t you show it to me sooner?” I asked, my face just inches from his.

“Because I preferred to listen to you hum,” he smiled, leaning in and kissing me gently on the cheek.

Closing my eyes, I kissed him back. We danced together cheek to cheek in the workshop while the music played softly all around us.’

One of my favourite areas of Tim’s writing is the describing of the scenery. Tim always makes it so intensifying and exciting, allowing the reader to understand where the characters are and how they deal with their surroundings and the weather. However, whilst some authors can be a little too descriptive Tim writes in such a way that it is incorporated with the characters and their actions, whilst allowing the reader to imagine it for themselves. In ‘Stilts’ the world as we know it becomes cracked, smoking, and even the sky is a constant shade of red. It is absolutely fascinating stuff!

Already ‘Stilts‘, being the first of a trilogy,  is making me a little sad to think that after the next two books it will be over. I didn’t want to stop reading about these characters. The only dislike I had was having to finish it. I’ll certainly be looking forward to the sequel, due for release in 2014!

A copy of ‘Stilts’ was provided by the author for the purpose of an honest and fair review.

‘Stilts’ is published by Hashtag Books and was released on the launch of the publishers, 1st December 2013, along with Alan Williams ‘Gentleman Traitor’ (soon to be reviewed) and Will Davis’ ‘Demonica’. Please check out our review of ‘Demonica‘ and enter your name for a chance to win an e-copy of the book!!!

‘Stilts’ is available at Amazon UK and Amazon US.

 Reviewed by Caroline Barker

Tim’s books are suitable for for young adults and over. To read our reviews of many of his other novels please click on the titles below:-

Vampire Shift (Keira Hudson Series 1, Book 1)

Vampire Wake (Keira Hudson Series 1, Book 2)

Vampire Hunt (Keira Hudson Series 1, Book 3)

Vampire Breed (Keira Hudson Series 1, Book 4)

Wolf House (Potter’s Story) (Kiera Hudson Series 1 Book 4.5) – novella

Vampire Hollows (Keira Hudson Series 1, Book 5)

Dead Flesh (Keira Hudson Series 2, Book 1)

Dead Night – Potter’s Secrets (Keira Hudson Series 2, Book 1.5) – novella

Dead Angels (Keira Hudson Series 2, Book 2)

Dead Statues (Keira Hudson Series 2, Book 3)

Dead Seth (Keira Hudson Series 2, Book 4)

Dead Wolf (Keira Hudson Series 2, Book 5)

Dead Water (Keira Hudson Series 2, Book 6)

Moonlight (The Moon Trilogy #1)

Moonbeam (The Moon Trilogy #2)

Vampire Seeker (Samantha Carter #1)

Witch (Sydney Hart #1)

Vampire Shift – The Graphic Novel (Volume One) (Keira Hudson Series One) –  illustrated by Craig Twyman

Unscathed (written with C.J. Pinard)

About Caroline Barker

I am a happily engaged mother of three and I absolutely love to read and write. Therefore, I am setting up a book blog in the hope to influence some readers out there!

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