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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

Blog Tour Review - Toby and the Silver Blood Witches by Sally Doherty

 Blog Tour Review - Toby and the Silver Blood Witches 

by Sally Doherty

A sinister plot. A hidden city in the sky. A boy with an impossible choice.

Twelve year old Toby has little time for friends or football since his mum fell ill. All he wants is to stay at home and keep an eye on her.

But mysterious things are happening beyond his garden hedge. Who is the figure at the window behind the barbed wire fence? And why is there a strange woman in his attic with a broken broom and bothersome pet bat?

Toby becomes entangled in an adventure of flying dogs, sparking hiccups and dangerous escapes. An innocent, young witch has been captured by a secretive organisation which will stop at nothing to find out how magic works. Toby must rescue her and time is running out

What a delightful book! I thoroughly enjoyed reading Toby and the Silver Blood Witches.

There are two key elements to this story, one very real and grounded and serious, and one very whimsical and magical. The two elements are combined so very well, the whimsy lightening the mood while the more serious elements give the story a real sense of heart and emotion.

Toby lives alone with his mother, who has very serious M.E. As such, she is completely bedbound, leaving Toby to look after her as well as himself. At twelve years old, that's an enormous burden for the poor child but he manages it as well as he can without ever complaining. It's clear to see that it is taking a toll on him though, from the subtle little references to the household jobs he just never gets around to, to the way he's withdrawing from his friends and social activities. This story about a young carer is one too many children will be familiar with, and the strength and perseverance he shows is heart breaking for its necessity. No one should have that much responsibility at such a young age, and it's particularly hard to watch him conceal the situation for fear that he'll be taken away from his mother. There's a subplot about bullying too, because some kids can be cruel and that's reflected here.

The second part of the story is the witches. It's not all whimsy, there's definitely a darkness here too, as young witches have been captured and face a very nasty fate. But despite this, the presence of the witches adds a fantastical and generally fairly humorous aspect. I particularly loved Witch Bumble, and the chaos that followed in her wake. There's a glimpse into a whole new world of witches, hints about wizards that I'm sure will be explored more in the second book, and it's all quite literally magical. From Bumble's patchwork dress to the morph munches, the world of the witches is brilliant and funny and incredibly inventive. There are familiar elements like wands and broomsticks, but the whole approach feels fresh and new. 

The plot is exciting and mysterious and keeps the reader guessing what is going on. There's a secretive institute and missing witches, and the other witches need Toby's help to save the day, but doing so could cost him a lot. The moral dilemmas feel real and serious, and there's definite peril as he attempts to help them, it all feels very dangerous. There are also hints at secrets that will hopefully play a part in future stories. 

My only minor quibble would be that the magic of the witches seems for much of the book to be based on rhymes and spells, but then at the end one of them wields very powerful magics with just flicks of her wand. It could be that we haven't seen enough of how the magic system works to understand it properly, but this felt a little jarring. 

For all the seriousness of many of the issues it deals with, Toby and the Silver Blood Witches has a lot of positivity in it, and hope for better times. I'm looking forward to seeing where this series goes next.


Toby and the Silver Blood Witches by Sally Doherty is out now, published by Soaring Skies Publishing.

I was given an ebook review copy in return for an honest review and participation in this The Write Reads blog tour.


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