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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 Pawnshop of Stolen Dreams by Victoria Williamson

 Blog Tour Review - The Pawnshop of Stolen Dreams 

by Victoria Williamson

In a strange little village called Witchetty Hollow, eleven-year-old Florizel is the first to run into the curious visitors who've come to open a brand new Daydream Delicatessen and sack-baby factory.

At first, it seems the daydream confection and cheap sack children are the best things that could have happened to the poor folk of the Hollow - after all, who has the money to rent their child from Storkhouse Services these days? But after a few weeks, Florizel starts to notice something odd happening to the adults of the town. First, they seem dreamy, then they lose all interest in their jobs and families. Soon they're trading all their worldly goods in the newly-opened Pawnshop for money to buy daydreams. With no money for rent payments, the children of Witchetty Hollow are being reclaimed by Storkhouse Services at an alarming rate. Florizel needs to act.

The Pawnshop of Stolen is a wonderfully creepy story! A delicate blend of endearing charm and sinister nastiness. 

It has an adorable fairytale charm to it, but like all of the best fairytales, there's a really dark side. Witchetty Hollow has a unique approach to childcare. Most families can't have children the traditional way, so instead they are rented out from the rich and powerful families who have them imported, (and of course, can still have children themselves). In a really nasty twist, rent for the child depends on how well they do at school, meaning clever children are more expensive to keep. Our main character, Florizel, has to do deliberately bad at tests to avoid her value rising and risking repossession. 

Then there are the sack-babies. Instead of an expensive real child you can have a cheap sack-baby, that will grow and develop and learn, until it reaches ten years old at which point it will be taken back by the corporation that made it for recycling. 

Honestly, it's all incredibly sinister and disturbing. Children who are re-collected if rents aren't met, and sack-babies who are recycled at ten. It's really cleverly designed to keep you totally on edge.

The story wooshes along at a great pace as Florizel meets Burble, a sack-boy, who starts going to school with her and doing hilariously badly. But he's so sweet and tries so hard that he is actually incredibly endearing though it's clear to see just how frustratingly annoying he is too. Things quickly turn mysterious though, with the arrival of a new delicatessen in the village, filled with the most incredible treats, things too good to be true. Before long, people are changing and the whole village is getting decidedly worse and it is up to Florizel and Burble to figure out what is going on and save the day!

Written into the fairytale horror is a brilliant critique of so much of modern society. The incredibly wealthy families have their own children, while everyone rents them on an ever shifting market that punishes them for doing well. People are distracted by nice treats, only to find out the true cost of them is more than they can ever afford. The pawnshop of the title is there, waiting for them, as they fall deeper into debt spirals, unable to find a way out. It's an incredible blend of fairytale and modern horror that hits home perfectly. It can be enjoyed purely as a children's fantasy, or you can read into it a scathing indictment of capitalist structures. 

The Pawnshop of Stolen Dreams is magical, clever and deeply sinister. I loved it!


The Pawnshop of Stolen Dreams by Victoria Williamson is out now, published by Tiny Tree.

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

Be sure to check out the rest of the blog tour!


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