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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 - Dread Wood Fear Ground by Jennifer Killick

Review - Dread Wood Fear Ground by Jennifer Killick

There’s a new craze at Dread Wood High. Flinch is a game of fear. The more you scare your friends, the more points on the app you get. At first it’s fun, but soon fun is replaced by fear. And Angelo and his friends notice that everyone is behaving more and more strangely every day – almost as if something is taking over their brains…

With the fair arriving in town, adrenaline and excitement levels are high. But who are the people behind the super-creepy clown masks? With fights breaking out and Flinch in full force, it’s time for the final showdown at the Fear Ground. Let the REAL games begin!

Dread Wood Fear Ground is another terrifyingly good kids' horror story from the wonderful Jennifer Killick, who is really staking her claim as the queen of middle grade horror!.

It's gruesome and creepy and funny, everything I've come to hope for and expect, as she just gets better and better with each book.

Before we get to the horror though, the heart of this book is the friendship circle, Club Loser. They've grown since book one, and Colette is now firmly a member of the group, making for some interesting shifts in dynamics but that feeling of companionship, of people who are always there for each other and would do anything for each other is stronger than ever! Clearly almost dying together forged a strong bond! They still have that Breakfast Club vibe of kids of very different types thrown together in detention and finding that they have more in common than differences, but this is used to great effect not only to give each character their own feel but also to highlight some important and oft-ignored issues. 

Money troubles is the most obvious one, and Angelo is still very much representative of those kids in a school who don't have the money for new clothes or shiny gadgets, who have to make do with what they can, who know exactly how much lunch money they can afford to spend and exactly what it will cost them. This is contrasted pretty sharply with Hallie in particular, and I loved the descriptions of her house and how fancy it seemed to the others, with a spare bedroom and artisan crisps! It's done with a light touch and a sensitivity but hopefully it'll help to raise awareness and build empathy among school children reading it. 

Something else touched upon but not explored in great detail is Gus and his stoma bag. I liked the way this was handled. He has one, he jokes about it, it's there, but it's not a huge issue. It just is. It's cleverly done and I'm sure it'll find its audience who'll really understand and appreciate it, as well as those who go away thinking about it.

Okay, enough heartwarming friendship and representation. What about the horror?

Oh. My. Goodness!

Jennifer Killick can absolutely bring the horror, and she does not hold back! There's a new game in school, all around scaring each other and making people flinch. But is there more to it than simple schoolyard scares? Well, yes of course there is! Some familiar villains make a very creepy return, and this time they're nastier than ever! Where the Dread Wood narrative happened over a single day in an abandoned school, Fear Ground happens over a longer period and the whole school is involved. The horror sequences are played out to a tune of Pop Goes The Weasel too, and I defy you not to hear it in your head and shiver. It's the perfect musical accompaniment, childlike and fun on the outside but pretty creepy when you think about it, and the book perfectly matches that slow ominous build up as we wait for the jack in the box to go POP. The spiders of the first book are long gone, but, if anything, they've been replaced by another even nastier biological horror. And as Jennifer winds up the music box, the tension slowly builds up to the fair ground coming to town, and a truly breathtaking climax.

Oh, and Mr Canton has to be one of the most excruciatingly embarrassing and funny characters I've come across in a very long time. He had me cringing so hard!

Will you flinch? I did.


Dread Wood Fear Ground by Jennifer Killick is published on 1 September 2022 by Farshore.

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


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