Books Reviews

Flora Reviews… Scratching in the Dirt (Written by the Birds #1) by S.M. Henley

Flora Reviews…

Scratching in the Dirt (Written by the Birds #1)

by S.M. Henley


Read: 19th – 22nd August 2017

Format: Kindle

My Goodreads Rating: 5 Stars


So, before we get into what I thought about this book, I want you to know that I given a digital version of this book for free from the author (S.M. Henley) via in exchange for signing up to her newsletter.


…So what’s this book about?

Scratching in the Dirt (approx 248 pages) is the first book in the trilogy Written by Birds; an adult urban fantasy world on the darker side of the genre with blood and gritty drama, that also ‘dips its toes’ into the dystopian genre too. Ms Henley has set her trilogy against the backdrop of our own modern world but with a fantastic new twist to the supernatural creatures that populate it with us; she describes the trilogy as:

The heat is rising. Cities are falling. As demons claw their way above ground to take control of a billion human souls, a renegade angel is plotting her own bid for power. Three dare to defy her: Tazia, a half-vampire girl, Billy, a millionaire playboy and Soren, an ex-soldier turned demon assassin. They each have their own desolate paths to follow. But, in the face of ultimate evil, can they come together to stop the angel’s victory? And what of the birds who stalk their every move? Isn’t it time they picked a side?

If you’ve read any of my reviews before, you’ll know that I don’t post spoilers of any kind or reveal any plot twists in my book reviews, so here’s what the official blurb has to say about Scratching in the Dirt:

A father in Hell, a dead lover, and a demon gangster on her tail. Today is the best day of Tazia’s life.

Demons are taking savage control of the disillusioned and down-at-heel. Half-vampire, Tazia, wants no part in it. She’s embracing her first taste of freedom in one hundred and fifty years. But liberty doesn’t come easily. When her celebrations are interrupted by a psychopathic angel, she is forced into a distasteful alliance to save the demon who was once her jailer.

Assisted by her best friend, a sex-addicted technomancer called Billy, she struggles to free herself from the angel’s evil plan. No easy task, when faced with resistance from a demonic terrorist, and pursued by her ex-lover—a human mercenary now out for her blood. If she fails, will Tazia ever regain her freedom or will she be forced back into a life of tortuous incarceration?

Scratching in the Dirt is the first in the Written by Birds trilogy, and is an adult urban fantasy novel set on the streets of modern-day Turin, London, and Detroit. It treads lightly in the darkness, with not a small amount of blood and gritty humor. Just ask the birds.

I just want to say that although there is no life or death situation type cliffhanger at the end of this book (*Phew* you know how I HATE those), as the first in a trilogy, the background story arc has only just begun and as such you need to continue reading to discover the fate of our heroes and the entire human world.


 …So, what did I like about it?

SM Henley is a new-to-me author and I found her writing style very easy to read; I became quickly caught up due to her engaging world building and the various species of demons she created added new and unexpected twists to old favourites. I loved the way Ms Henley weaved her plot; it was complex enough to keep me intrigued without being convoluted messy or getting me lost. I liked the fact that it felt psychologically driven even though it was a fantasy paranormal tale and

I appreciated the fact that none of the characters in this book are stereotypically “good”. I loved that Ms Henley wrote her characters with the complexities that we’d see in those around us, that they had a good balance of strengths and insecurities to make them feel real. Our main character, Tazia, for example is intelligent and resourceful but a bit impatient and gung-ho. I also loved the fact that the secondary characters were developed just as deeply as our main cast of characters and had strong, memorable personalities; they weren’t just filling the page.

Scratching in the Dirt managed to surprise me a couple of times, had me reaching for the tissues *sniff*, recoiling in horror at the brutality and chuckling out loud. Throughout this book, I found myself desperate to find out what would happen next, staying up late to finish just one more chapter, in other words I was gripped!


…So, ummm, was there anything I disliked about it?

Hey, I guess not – 5 stars!


…So, basically what I’m saying is…

I really enjoyed this book; I like the way it’s written, our main character is a complex, multifaceted contradiction and I liked her a lot. The story is full of mystery, intrigue, lots of fighting and a fair amount of blood and violence.

Due to the violent content, I’d recommend this book for adults only – it’s definitely brutal at times – who are fans of relationship and action stories that feature some darker themes.

This book surprised me and well exceeded my expectations (c’mon, I’m sure you’re like me, never high expectations from free fiction) I enjoyed this so much that I have already added Taking to the Sky (book 2) and Pecking at the Bones (book 3) to my Amazon wish list and can’t wait to get stuck in.

So, has my review of SCRATCHING IN THE DIRT (WRITTEN BY BIRDS #1) encouraged you to find out more? Just click on any of the links below to check out the book yourself or to find out more about the author. To see the other books I’ve read, take a look at my profile on Goodreads.


Buy SCRATCHING IN THE DIRT through the usual sources, including or through

Visit S.M. HENLEY‘s own little corner of the web, connect to her via Twitter or Facebook

About Me

I'm in my late forties, my interests are varied but since menopause hit a few years ago, I find myself becoming a "grumpy old woman" all too frequently - where has my infinite patience gone!?! Lol!
I bought a Kindle in the summer of 2013 and haven't stopped reading since. If you want to know more about me, check out my blog -

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