Tested By Fire – Book Review


Overall Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

“Trust no one; always expect danger and you’ll be alright.”

Action thriller fans, this is the one for you. I’ve been very pleasantly surprised by every element of this book, and it is really rather explosive for a debut novel! I am thrilled to be opening this blog tour for this gripping book, and hope you’ll all keep an eye out for all these other awesome blogger’s review over the coming week!

Two terrorist Ideologies combine forces to assassinate the British Prime Minister and kill hundreds of innocent people on the streets of a British City. To hunt them down and eliminate them, David Reece leads a Black Ops team known as The Department or SG9 the killing arm of MI6. Time is short and acting on the information received by Reece from an agent from his past, he knows they must play by Big Boys Rules, kill or be killed.

The beginning

The attention to detail surprised me from the very first page of this book. We meet Costello in the first scene and he instantly felt like a character I’d grow to love as the story progressed. Thanks to the impeccable description we’re faced with, I instantly felt drawn into the action and I soon began turning page after page with a sense of urgency that I didn’t expect! The opening was intriguing – we know Costello is watching someone, with the intent to kill once he got his chance, and questions started forming in my mind about just who he was watching and why he was out of sight with a gun pointing straight at them. I feel like the author had really nailed the opening to the book, drawing readers in with the right words whilst forcing them to think hard about the bigger picture. I couldn’t find any negative! This gave me such a positive feeling about the story itself and I was curious about just what the characters in this story could be capable of.

Each character we meet along the way has some sort of mysterious aura about them which I really liked. The author doesn’t give everything away all at once and I quickly found myself forming my own theories, and wondering just what the British Prime Minister had to do with all this secrecy. The more I read, the more I saw Costello as being someone you wouldn’t want to cross or get on the wrong side of, which sparked my curiosity even more. We learn of a Republican terrorist group and how something big is planned – something so big that it could potentially kill hundreds of people if it succeeded, and this event was linked back to Costello. I love a bit of danger in a book, but my excitement for this one was off the scale! I was dying to read more about Costello, but at the same time, I knew that how these agents worked to put a stop to this attack would be just as gripping. I needed more and I was looking forward to some more action!

After reading some intense and very thorough character backstories, I wasn’t surprised to find out that the author has had a 26 year career in Anti Terrorism work. This well and truly shines through in the author’s writing, and I always feel that when an author writes about their experience, it makes a story much more solid and memorable for a reader. Each character we meet, each action-packed scene and every paragraph of description made the story what it was, and I was thoroughly enjoying the ride so far! I loved meeting Mary – she also had an interesting back story, and I felt like there was so much more to learn about her which I was looking forward to. I was also so happy to hear more of the story from Costello’s point of view too, and it made the potential danger feel more real to me. The author has created a bunch of characters here that become cemented in your mind with each page you read. Just brilliant!

“There was nothing safe about what would be going on in that house. In fact, his plans were anything but safe for the people of Manchester.”

As plans begin to develop in Costello’s terrorist operation, I found myself becoming more and more nervous for what was about to go down. After reading about references to 9/11 and the 2005 London bombings, the thought of something similar happening, even if it was purely fictional, was enough to make my stomach churn. The author somehow manages to get deep inside your mind and make you feel so on edge as this attack is discussed, but even so, it was incredibly powerful and made quite the impact on me! The author also made me feel the complete opposite too as we learn more about Reece and Mary’s professional relationship, as well as their concealed feelings for one another. An author has to be pretty damn good to make you feel everything so much, and I think it’s safe to say that this author has done everything just right. The opening to the book was so strong and it was definitely enough to keep me reading!

The middle

The detail we’re given as we go through the story is seriously impressive! From Reece and the team attempting to predict Costello’s movements and protecting the PM to Costello and his terrorist group planning their attack from A to B, the way we’re involved and how this was described was simply too perfect to put into words. I loved how, as a reader, we know both sides of this story, and the different perspectives work really well, not only for us to understand the plot more deeply, but so we can get the best possible experience out of it too. Dialogue between characters has also been written really well – it can be difficult to get right, but the author has ensured that each conversation flowed and was easy for us to follow. I lost count of how many times I lost track of time throughout reading, as I felt like I always had to know what was coming up next. ‘One more chapter’ seemed to pop into my head more and more frequently!

I admired how organised the entire operation was as Reece and his team outlined their plan of action. It was pretty much flawless! How could they not succeed? Every last detail seemed to have been planned with care and attention, but with what we’re told about Costello and how he may have changed his appearance, it was becoming more worrying as each minute passed. I loved how the reader is let in on a number of secrets about the operation plans, and I loved how everything seemed to fit together effortlessly. I felt the suspense was built up perfectly and it was a nice change to hear the story from the good guys and the bad guys point of view. It was saddening learning more about Reece and Mary’s feelings and how he needed to put them to one side for the sake of the operation. But would she wait? With so much up in the air at the moment, it would be interesting to see if the characters kept their cool to avoid blowing their cover.

Character development came across really strong for me, and we can see just how well the characters’ relationships change slightly the closer they get to executing their plans. As the countdown begins, I started to feel incredibly nervous for the characters involved and it soon became clear that there may be many lives lost if all doesn’t go to plan. The author has done an amazing job of holding this apprehensive feeling in the reader right until the danger begins, and it was at this point in the book where I was well and truly gripped. Would all the characters we’d quickly become attached to come out of all this alive? Will they be able to stop Costello in the act and take him down once and for all? I sure hoped so! I wasn’t quite prepared for just how good the action scenes to come would be, but I was very impressed and completely immersed in the book here! This was the start of something big, and I would urge everyone to read this, even if it’s just to read these incredible action scenes!

“These people don’t want to negotiate with us they just want to kill us, they want to destroy us in whatever way they can. So, we must find them and kill them first. Do you have any problem with that?”

It was quite terrifying hearing from the Prime Minister’s side of things before the attack, and with the reader knowing just what was about to happen, I felt like I needed to shout and warn him! The calm before the storm was portrayed well, and left me hanging onto the author’s every word. I was feeling particularly nervous about Mary’s safety at this point and just whether she’d be able to stay out of danger. The group were getting closer and closer to their goal and Costello and his team were also getting closer and closer to theirs. What would the outcome be in the end? Every piece of description and just how every character played an important part in bringing Costello down impressed me no end, and I was dying to know how this story would conclude. I knew the author wouldn’t let us down after everything we’ve experienced in the book so far, and I had such high hopes for this ending!

The end

I loved following each character as their plans sprang into action, and it almost felt like I was a part of the team too with my own role to play! With Costello’s team on the move, would he catch on that Reece and the team were onto them? Was this part of Costello’s plan after all? I was constantly on edge, just wondering if one group would spot the other, or that Reece and his plans didn’t work in keeping those in danger safe. The immense detail here made what we read to be very vivid and it seemed to play out very clearly in my mind. Conflict was imminent and I couldn’t imagine how this would all go down. Would Costello come quietly and accept his arrest? Would he refuse and continue to put the innocent in danger, and be killed by Reece and his team as a result? The author seemed to have thought of every possible outcome, portraying this in a way that made us question who would live and who would die.

With adrenaline pumping, not just for the characters, but for me too, it felt like anything could happen! I found myself taking in what each character was doing and saying, looking for any sign of danger before it emerged, even though I wasn’t nearly as qualified as these guys were. This part of the story was so complex, but not too complex that we don’t get a firm grasp on everything that is happening. The pace was perfect and its drawn out just enough to make you desperate to find out answers. At this point, it seemed like any danger or attack would take place right at the end of the book, which was sure to make quite the finale. It was unnerving reading how the characters prepared themselves with flameproof jumpsuits, respirator masks and pistols, and it highlighted the severity of the situation – not that we didn’t know of it at this point! Again, it’s detail like this that brings the book to life. Just how dangerous could things get?

The events that unravelled, the explosions that took place and the actions of certain characters were incredibly scary to read about, but so very powerful at the same time. Even one singular scene forced me to take a little break from reading, just to take in everything that had occurred! The author’s talent for writing and life experience combined perfectly at this point, and I cannot praise it enough! We see lives lost, not only enemies, but the good guys too, making things seem more realistic. It makes you think more of terrorism, and the more we learn, the more we feel grateful for people like Reece and his team who work tirelessly to put a stop to these selfish acts. With yet more action on the way, I couldn’t wait to see what the characters experienced next. Would they ever find Costello? Could Reece keep his team safe? I never expected an ending quite like the one I was about to experience, but I’m so glad the author took the route he did!

“I’m not too worried about security. We can kill them too. We have the guns, the knives and the bombs.”

The ending of the book was not only action-packed, but it had a bit of a dark element to it too which I really enjoyed! The author has ended the book in such a great way, and even though things didn’t go as planned for all the characters we meet, I think that’s what made things so perfect and memorable. I loved one particular scene at the end as we follow that one character who got away, as well as finding out whether Reece and Mary get the happy ending they deserved… A very satisfying read that I truly didn’t expect, with characters who I’d be very happy to catch up with in the next book of this series. This is an author I’ll be keeping an eye on in the future and I’m so happy to give this book five stars. If you want a read that will grip you until the very end, this is one for you to try!

Overall thoughts

I didn’t know what to expect when starting this book, but it didn’t take me long to get drawn into the story! A terrorist hunter with a knack for catching the bad guy soon became a very memorable character to me, and it was such a joy to follow his journey. From some impressive description and attention to detail, to scenes of explosions and gunshots, and even a satisfying love story, this book has a little something for all. A brilliant first novel by an author who clearly knows his stuff! I was enthralled by this story until the very end, and I’m desperate for the author’s next book already!

A big thanks to the author, David Costa, and Damp Pebbles for my copy of this book to read and review! You can purchase your own copy of Tested By Fire on Amazon, available on Kindle and in paperback. Make sure you follow the author on Facebook and Twitter for updates!

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. damppebbles says:

    Thanks so much x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Em says:


      Liked by 1 person

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