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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 - The Haunting Scent of Poppies by Victoria Williamson

 Blog Tour Review - The Haunting Scent of Poppies 

by Victoria Williamson

The War is over, but for petty criminal Charlie his darkest days are only just beginning.

Charlie Briggs is never off-duty, even when a botched job means he's forced to lay low in a sleepy

Hampshire town for the holiday season. Always searching for his next unwitting victim, or a shiny trinket he can pilfer, he can't believe his luck when he happens upon a rare book so valuable it will set him up for life. All he needs to do is sit tight until Boxing Day. But there's a desperate story that bleeds beyond the pages; something far more dangerous than London's mobsters is lurking in the shadows.

Could the book be cursed? Why is he haunted by the horrors of war? Can he put things right before he's suffocated by his own greed?

This is such a spooky, haunting little tale! It's only a little book, a short story in a small format paperback, which absolutely suits it. I always think the short story format really suits a horror or ghost story perfectly, and this is an excellent example of the form. I think this is because a really good horror story doesn't need a long build up, and often doesn't benefit from a tidy resolution, but is at its very best when it drops us into the middle of the action and then leaves us wondering.

In The Haunting Scent of Poppies Charlie is on the run after a daring string of burglaries in London. Hiding out in a small town until the heat dies down, he takes a chance to steal a priceless book, a French translation of The Art of War.

This is just the start of his troubles! Along with his latest acquisition he gets visions and nightmares that spill over into his waking life. Trapped in this quiet town over Christmas, he has no way to get away from the ghosts that follow him everywhere he goes, getting closer and closer as time goes on.

The setting is perfect, a small town at Christmas, just a year after the end of World War One. The horrors of the trenches are very much a living memory, and the town itself feels haunted by its dead, by the sons who never came home, the ones who came home forever forever scarred by their experiences and the ones who came home all too briefly. And then there's Charlie, who never went to war but stayed at home and profited in the chaos. He's far from a sympathetic character, a thief and rascal of the highest order, someone who sees others only as a source of profit, with no empathy, no kindness. It's almost a pleasure to see him get what he deserves.


Because what he gets is horrendous. It's all of the horrors of the trenches delivered upon him, over the course of a few short days. It's inescapable, it's everywhere he turns, everywhere he runs, and it's pervasive. The scents, the sounds, the colours, all leap off the page straight into the imagination, building a creeping, lingering horror that lasts long after this short book is finished.

It's the little touches too. From the start there are subtleties, a name on a grave stone seen again in other circumstances, little links and connections that help to slowly build the narrative. And like all good horror stories, we're left questioning how much of it is real and how much exists only in the mind of the protagonist.

But for me, the overwhelming strength of this story is in the sensory depictions, the stench of the gas, and the haunting scent of poppies. It's a ghost story to be remembered.


The Haunting Scent of Poppies by Victoria Williamson is out now, published by Silver Thistle Press.

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


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