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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 Time Tider by Sinéad O’Hart

Review - The Time Tider by Sinéad O’Hart

Mara and her dad have lived in their van for as long as she can remember. Whatever her father does to scrape a living has kept them constantly moving and Mara has never questioned it. That is until she uncovers a collection of notes addressed to ‘the Tider’, an individual responsible for harvesting lost time from people whose lives were cut short.

But before Mara can question her father he is taken by a dangerous group who want to use his power for evil. With the very fabric of time and space at stake, it’s down to Mara and her new friend Jan to find him before it’s too late...

This was such a highly anticipated book for me, as Sinéad O’Hart's number one fan. And honestly, a bit of nervousness too, because it sounded so different to Sinéad's other books, which I absolutely adore. The Time Tider is a contemporary fantasy, without the merest hint of the Victoriana I've enjoyed so much in The Eye of the North, The Star-Spun Web and Skyborn. 

So a read with a bit of trepidation. But how did it match up?

I loved it! 

It did feel very different to her other books, and I will admit that I kind of missed that sense of comfortable familiarity you usually get when settling down with the latest book by a much-loved author. I think when I read Skyborn, the prequel to The Eye of the North, I had a good idea what to expect and the whole thing felt very cosy and comfortable. The Time Tider is a little more challenging. I get the sense that with this book, Sinéad is challenging herself, pushing her writing outside the comfort zone of her first three novels and experimenting with new things, new feels, new ideas. And I was more than happy to come along on that ride. She does, after all, definitely know her way around contemporary fiction. (Just track her down and ask her about Elidor! Or listen to her talk about it on her podcast, Storyshaped.) I think it's this familiarity with the genre that comes across quite strongly. There's a clever blending of themes, the mix of the real life and all of its problems and worries, with the fantastical.

There are some big ideas and concepts at play here. Tackling anything to do with time is always a tricky proposition, but Sinéad has created a fascinating world where spare time caused by untimely deaths can pool and warp and cause all sorts of problems. The solution is the Time Tider, a man (and always a man) who goes around bottling it up and storing it somewhere safely, in the temporal version of nuclear waste dumps or left luggage departments. It gets fairly complex at times, but is always presented and explained in a way that feels reasonably plausible. Like all time travelling stuff though, ultimately the answer is don't try to think too hard about it and just go with the (time)flow. 

The most interesting thing about it all isn't actually the collection and bottling of spare time, but in the moral implications surrounding it. Time Tider is a role with an awful lot of power and responsibility, and it's so clever how this is shown to corrupt even the best of individuals, and how dangerous it is in the hands of the already greedy and corrupt. The rules, the checks and balances and the support networks all add a beautifully human dimension to the otherwise rather fantastical ideas. 

There's a lot of moral complexity here. It's difficult to determine, at times, who are the good guys and who are the baddies, and the paranoid who-to-trust nature of the story builds tension and suspense towards a thrilling climax.  It's helped along by little snippets at the start of each chapter from the Time Tider's Handbook, fuelling that sense of suspicion and paranoia beautifully.

Then we have Mara. I love Mara so much, possibly even on an Emmeline Widget level. There's a line early on that really captures her life. "I'm used to stuff not being safe. I've never been safe. Not ever." It's really so heartbreaking, but she's a girl who's grown up without anything in her life except her dad, who is unreliable and mysterious and honestly? Not that good a dad. But she's brave and bright and brilliant and I absolutely loved watching her journey through the book. She's also flawed, because all the best heroes are, right? She messes up and takes responsibility for it. She looks out for herself, cares for others but with this brittle protective shell she's had to put up around herself. 

The Time Tider is a complex book dealing with some pretty big ideas, but presented in a beautiful, clear way full of heart and feeling. I think Sinéad O’Hart has purposefully challenged herself (and maybe her readers) with this one, and she's succeeded brilliantly.


The Time Tider by Sinéad O’Hart is published on 2nd February 2023 by Little Tiger.

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


  1. Excellent and comprehensive review! I am part way through, about a fifth, and find it very intriguing.


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