Tuesday 1 September 2020



Title: Exposed
Series: The Tomb
Author: Ella Burns
Genre: Dark Dystopian, Adult Fiction
Release Date: 1st September 2020

BLURB from Goodreads
The Tomb. A prison run by inmates; it is home to the most despicable scum of the earth.
And me.
Ana, but call me Josh. My life depends on it.

After disguising myself as a man for years, a fluke landed me in the worst possible prison. I may know how to fight but nothing could have prepared me for the depravity of The Tomb.

When the leader of this horrid place, Ax, discovers my secret, I assume that is it—I’m done for. Ready to be tossed to the savages of The Tomb, he instead claims me as his own and teaches me things about my body I never knew possible.

I know I need to use Ax and his desire for me if I’m ever to escape this place and be safe again. But I never expected it would be my heart I needed to protect most.


Incarcerated as a child, I’ve spent most of my life in The Tomb and the last ten years leading it. When a new batch of prisoners come in, I discover a woman hiding in their midst. Her fearlessness intrigues me, and I decide to keep her for myself, and her secret.

Bloodthirsty and ruthless are how I have been described, but I can tell Ana is going to change things. My darkness and addictions seem to dissipate when she’s close, and I fall harder than I ever thought possible. Now to keep her hidden, keep her mine, and ensure no one learns her secret.


After reading the prequel novella (The Tomb: Unexpected) and enjoying it, even though it’s not my usual genre and a little more explicit that I normally read, I felt like I wanted to read more of the series. I felt like I had become attached to the characters and wanted to know more. I love the cover for this book, its really strong. Personally, I think it is Axle from within the book, he certainly fits the imagery that Ella Burns gives you in her descriptions of him. The genre I have seen listed for this book is Dark Dystopian, which I totally agree with, but would add that it also has post-apocalyptic aspects. The Split is the post-apocalyptic event even that happened before everything changed that I think we may learn more about as the series goes on.

The book introduces a character that may be slight in stature but is set to make an enormous difference within the prison. Ana wears a disguise for her own safety, which consists of short cropped hair covered with a cap, and a tightly bound chest to hide her curves. Ana also uses the male name Josh, which we learn later on in the book is the name of someone very close to her. Her luck has lasted quite a while but now it seems to be rapidly running out as she is lined up with other males about to be judged for their crimes. A man paces the line, he is the one who will decide who goes to prison, he can also decide you are to be shot. As Ana is standing in the line, I don’t think she is sure which one she is hoping for. Life and death, Prison or being shot? The man approaches her totally taken in by her posing as a male. He looks her up and down and actually comments “Pretty and young, they are going to love you” and then shouts “Tomb”. So, Ana is relieved she is not going to be shot, one worry over, but how on earth is she going to fare in the Tomb, a prison full of tough hardened criminal men! Ana knows how to fight, and can hold her own on a one to one fight but a prison full of men….and how long can she keep up her disguise with little to no privacy.

We met Ethan and Axle in the prequel and the new boy Josh is briefly mentioned too, but there is so much more to learn about them in this first full-length novel of the series. There’s much more detail about The Tomb in Unexposed as well as the reason that Axle seems to have taken the young boy Josh under his wing which is totally uncharacteristic of him.
Axle is in charge of The Tomb who solves issues by fighting in the pit. The fighters are lowered into the pit and they basically fight to the end. His second in command and I think its also fair to say the only person he truly trusts in the prison is Ethan.

Axle has a tough image to hold onto, he fights to feed the craving he feels. Axle describes it as a bad, dark place and the only thing that relieves this feeling/pain is either fighting in the pit or when he cuts himself. Axle has Ethan meet the new prisoners, he introduces himself and welcomes them to the Tomb. However, their real introduction is when they meet Axle, who usually kills a couple of them just to put the others in their place at the very bottom of the food chain. The newbies soon realise who is in charge and that should they cross Axle their lives are at stake. Axle has the new men, including Josh/Ana line up in front of him, watching them and assessing every single one of them. He immediately recognises the ones with a glint in their eye, which tells him they are violent Then there are those crying that they are here who probably won’t last very long at all. To be honest those that cry irritate Axle the most. He notices Josh/Ana and immediately thinks that the small and weak do not survive long in the Tomb. He finally chooses to speak to a couple of them and rapidly kills them. He then orders Josh/Ana to remove his/her hat, which he/she complies with immediately. He asks his/her name and notices that the voice answering may be small with a tremor but when he looks in Josh/Ana’s eyes as they continue to stare back at him, he notices some bravery. One of the other men shouts and asks if he can have Josh/Ana and Axle see’s that there is more fear in Josh/Ana’s eyes at that thought than when he spoke to him/her. Axle is infuriated that this boy in front of him is more scared of being raped by Rik than he is of being killed by Axle!! Axle kills Rik, and makes Josh/Ana look at him and is finally somewhat satisfied by Josh/Ana’s shocked reaction.
Later Josh/Ana meets Theo an older man who seems to keep himself to himself. Theo reveals his story, how he has been in the Tomb for thirty years. He also warns Josh/Ana that he/she is much too young and small for the Tomb. He tells him/her to watch out. Josh/Ana is permanently on his/her guard, thankful that the real Josh taught her how to stand, walk and act like a male as well as teaching hm/her how to fight. One on one she should be okay in a fight but those in the Tomb don’t fight fairly, or by any rules. It seems its not a matter of if it will be revealed she is female but when. Josh/Ana tries not to think what could happen. It’s horrendous thinking what the men want to do with Josh/Ana as male it would be even worse being revealed as a female in amongst all these men.

Axle is sick of Cole and his group of followers attacking and killing as they see fit. It seems it could only be a matter of time until Cole challenges him in the pit to take over the prison. Already Axle is sick of getting complaints from other groups of prisoners. There’s always fights, scuffles and yes killings, after all the prison is full of hardened criminals and only the toughest survive. Usually Axle allows the “survival of the fittest” to rule who lives and dies however there is something about the young, small new boy Josh/Ana that has caught his attention. Though it’s totally out of character for Axle he steps in to prevent Cole and his gang bullying and hurting Josh/Ana. Even Axle doesn’t understand why he does it, but it is noticed by others too. Axle notices blood on Josh/Ana’s clothing, he orders him/her to remove his/her clothing and naturally Josh/Ana doesn’t want to reveal his/her real identity. Axle is not used to be being refused and he demands him/her to remove her clothes. Axle infuriated at being disobeyed rips the shirt from Josh/Ana. Axle is stunned by what he discovers. He is also shocked when Josh/Ana snipes at him asking for some of his rum if he is just going to stare at her!!

We do see a much softer side to Axle when he is alone with Josh/Ana, there’s an immediate attraction between them both. It’s important that no one else discovers her true identity. In fact, Axle doesn’t even let the only one he trusts in the prison in on their secret. Sadly, there isn’t to be an easy life for the couple. Later when Cole & his men learn the truth about Josh/Ana, Cole is determined to have her as his personal sex toy who once he is done with her, he will pass her on to his men to use and abuse. Cole even challenges Axle to a pit fight, though not on a level, fair footing. Cole makes sure Axle is badly beaten but when it comes to the pit fight Cole is in for a surprise as someone challenges him to a fight he cannot refuse.

My immediate thoughts upon finishing this book were that though it was not my usual genre but honestly enjoyed the change of style & pace. Would like to read more of this series.

Summing up despite there being more explicit scenes than I would normally read, I did honestly enjoy this book. Yes, it is an 18+ adult content book with sexual scenes, awful descriptive violence in places but . . .but I quickly became attached to the characters of Ethan, Axle, Josh/Ana and Theo and definitely am interested in reading more about them.
I think it is a good thing to read outside of your usual “comfort” zone genre occasionally. I did enjoy this book, the way it was written, it made it an addictive, fast reading experience.

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