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Blog Tour Review - Service Model by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Blog Tour Review - Service Model by Adrian Tchaikovsky To fix the world they first must break it further. Humanity is a dying breed, utterly reliant on artificial labor and service. When a domesticated robot gets a nasty little idea downloaded into their core programming, they murder their owner. The robot then discovers they can also do something else they never did before: run away. After fleeing the household, they enter a wider world they never knew existed, where the age-old hierarchy of humans at the top is disintegrating, and a robot ecosystem devoted to human wellbeing is finding a new purpose. There is so much to love in Service Model, but one of the things I most love about it is the peculiar blend of charming innocence and insightful cynicism. Uncharles the domestic robot is such a simple soul (though he would state that he has no soul and this is an inaccurate description). He approaches the end of the world with optimism and hope, or whatever equivalent to these emotions h

Review - The Marvellers by Dhonielle Clayton

Review - The Marvellers by Dhonielle Clayton

Eleven-year-old Ella Durand is the first Conjuror to attend the Arcanum Training Institute, a magic school in the clouds for Marvellers from around the world. Ella discovers that being the first isn't easy but she finds friendship in fellow misfits Brigit, a girl who hates magic, and Jason, a boy with a fondness for magical creatures and support from her Elixirs teacher, Masterji Thakur.

Then the notorious Ace of Anarchy escapes prison, supposedly with a Conjuror's aid, and Ella finds herself as the prime suspect. Worse, Masterji Thakur mysteriously disappears while away on a research trip. With the help of her friends and her own growing powers, Ella must find a way to clear her family's name and track down her mentor before it's too late.

A truly marvellous read!

The Marvellers pulled me in right from the start with a New Orleans setting perfectly suited to a supernatural, magical feel as young Ella Durand prepares herself for magic school, the Arcanum Training Institute. But magic schools, and particularly outsiders heading off to a magic school they know little about, is such a staple of children's fiction, I headed into the book wondering and hoping that The Marvellers would bring something new to the genre.

And I'm pleased to report that it does! The most immediate and obvious element is the diversity it brings and how well it delivers it. There's plenty of racial diversity within the Arcanum Training Institute, with pupils and teachers from all over the world bringing their distinctive cultural elements into the mix, from marvel styles and approaches to cuisine, and it feels like a very rich and diverse culture. But it quickly becomes obvious that there are other divisions in this otherwise idyllic society that mirror some of the divisions in our own. Ella isn't from a Marveller family, she's a Conjuror, something that might look the same to a casual observer but is treated as wholly different and untrustworthy, if not outright dangerous! 

The way this is presented throughout the book really is fantastic. Ella's father had to fight legal battles to overturn the rules keeping Conjurors out of the institute, though his daughter is the only one who actually goes to attend. Once there she faces prejudice in the form of whispers and unpleasant notes, petty vandalism, but also discrimination from many of the teachers and staff, being punished for small acts that other students do unnoticed. You can really see how snide and secretive many of the forms of discrimination are, little acts of spite and pettiness that are hard to point a finger at but contribute to a general feeling of being unwelcome. You also see the pressures on Ella to be the best, because expectations and standards are greater for her than for her peers. It's clever, it's subtle and it gets a powerful message across to readers.

I love the richness of the world too, and I can't wait to explore more of it in future books. There's enough in there about Marvellous cities and about the history of the place to keep me gripped and eager to learn more. 

I really loved Brigit, with her sarky and pretty unpleasant attitude to the place, which to be fair did nothing to deserve much more from her. Seeing her character grow and develop, and how this was largely due to Ella's support and friendship, was really lovely. I felt like every smile or kind word from Brigit was a major breakthrough and I was living for them!

I absolutely loved the idea of a magical (or marvellous) Commedia Dell'Arte! I think that would just be the most superb thing, and I'd love to see it explored more too. With that and the New Orleans flavoured land of the dead, there are some amazing thematic elements of this book.

A rich, diverse and fascinating book!


The Marvellers by Dhonielle Clayton is published on 5th January 2023 by Piccadilly Press.

I was given a review copy via Netgalley in return for an honest review.


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