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Today we’re excited to bring you the first (of hopefully many!) book tours with the delightful and new Escapist Book Tours! This is a treat for me as Oil and Dust, book one in The Elemental Artist series by Jami Fairleigh, has been on my TBR pile for a while now and this was the perfect opportunity to jump in. So let’s kick off!

This book tour is hosted by Escapist Book Tours. To find out more and view other awesome blogs on the tour, follow their Twitter @Escapist_Tours

When all has been lost, we find ourselves…

Out of the ashes of destruction, a new world has arisen. The plagues of the past—the worship of greed and pursuit of power—are gone. Now, the communities that remain in this post-apocalyptic world focus on creating connections, on forging futures filled with family and love. And all with the help of hard work, hope… and a little bit of magic.

Artist Matthew Sugiyama knows this well. Traveling the countryside in search of the family he lost as a child, he trades his art for supplies—and uses his honed magic to re-draw the boundaries of reality, to fashion a world that is better for those he meets.

Following glimpses of visions half-seen, Matthew—and the friends he encounters along the way—will travel a path from light to darkness and back again. A road where things lost in the past can only be found in the love of the present, and the hope for the future.

And he will travel this path wherever it leads. From joy to sorrow, from tears to laughter. Because Matthew is the Elemental Artist, and he knows that though dangers arise, humanity will always triumph… in a world he has painted in shades of Oil and Dust.

Author Jami Farleigh invites you to meet a rich tapestry of characters, and to travel through a world that blends fantasy, laughter, coming of age, and evocative literary stylings to create a perfect escape. Fans of The Goblin Emperor, The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, The Language of Flowers, and Quarter Share will delight in this tale of humor, humanity, and the power of hope.

Film Mashup: August Rush (2007) x Friends x Wall-E (2008)
Song Mashup: “Empty Streets” (Late Night Alumni) x “You Can Do Magic” (America) x “Happy” (Pharrell Williams)

Our Review

As stated above, Oil and Dust had been on my TBR for a while, and I will readily admit it’s because the cover intrigued me. Though labelled as a fantasy novel, the world of Oil and Dust is set within a post-apocalyptic landscape with an American west feel. In this future, greed and corruption has led to the downfall of man, and the survivors have created a new society modelled on cooperation between communities, giving rise to the popular nursery rhyme “Politics, Money, Power, Religion, and Greed. These are the things we never again need.” Each member of the community takes on a role needed by that community, such as engineers, healers, administrators, scholars, cooks, and so on, leading to a fairly peaceful existence. Travellers pass news between the communities and there are also minstrels and artists who are much sought after.

And then the world died.

You see, the author wanted to create a world where the arts were a much revered and vital part of society. The story, then, is centred around Matthew: an elemental artist who is not only an expert at his craft, but through his art, he has the ability to alter reality with his paintings. This skill is used to improve the lives of communities by repairing broken buildings or creating whole new structures, such as bridges. This makes Matthew a celebrity of sorts, and the communities scramble to get Matthew to settle down and join them.

Matthew, however, has his own quest – to discover more about his past after being placed with the artists at a young age. This journey takes him from community to community, helping them along the way while making friends and discovering that someone out there doesn’t want him to uncover the truth of who he really is.

Oil and Dust is thus a tale of travel and adventure, but it’s also a coming of age story as Matthew makes friends and connections with those communities he helps. I’ll be honest and say that the first half of the book is slow going, and it takes a while to get to the main conflict of the story, as Fairleigh takes her time in establishing this world and the characters. However, despite the length of the book, the writing style is easy to read, and I found myself racing through the pages to find out what happened next. Each chapter asks a question or includes a mystery which makes Oil and Dust a real page turner.

The story is told through Matthew’s eyes, and as he learns more and develops connections with other characters, so do we. He’s a relatable character who balances his flaws with trying to do the right thing. While he goes through a myriad of changes, this story isn’t just his, but also belongs to the side characters who also grow and change as the dynamics of their group do. There’s a wide cast here, and all of them feel at home within the world Fairleigh has created.

What I especially enjoyed was the detail that Fairleigh goes into regarding Matthew’s artistic abilities. The author certainly did her research regarding art tools and techniques, teaching me a few things! I was fascinated by the magic system of bringing alive paintings, and I imagined the possibilities as I was reading along. I hope we see more applications of this in the coming sequel!

There’s also a LOT of food description in this book, and I was again fascinated by the descriptions of food types I’ve not heard of. This book is best read on a full stomach!

I also appreciated that this book didn’t shy from criticising the society of the past, which is sadly our current society. The new society of Oil and Dust isn’t perfect by any means, but it’s refreshing to see a take on post-apocalyptic worlds that aims for a utopia instead of a dystopia. This story does have some dark themes, including religious criticism, which I again found personally refreshing, but I could see where others might feel uncomfortable with it.

Oil and Dust wasn’t what I was expecting, and that’s the joy of indie books – they can explore themes that I might not find elsewhere. It was a pleasure to take this journey with Matthew, and I look forward to seeing what’s next in the coming sequel, Graphite and Turbulence.

Oil and Dust by Jami Fairleigh was published by Kitsune Publishing on September 1, 2021 at 494 pages.

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Want to Win a Copy of Oil and Dust?

The author is generously giving away a copy of the ebook or a signed hardcover! Enter for free below. This competition is open internationally until March 23rd, 2022.

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About the Author

Jami Fairleigh is a writer, urban planner, and hobby collector from Washington. She shares her life with a husband, a trio of well-mannered horses, a pair of dubiously behaved parrots, and one neurotic dog. Her writing has been published by Terror House Magazine, Horror Tree, Defenestration, and Amsterdam Quarterly, and she is currently working on the third novel in the Elemental Artist fantasy series.

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