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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 - Academy Arcanist by Shami Stovall

 Blog Tour Review - Academy Arcanist by Shami Stovall

Hopes. Dreams. And literal nightmares out to kill a young boy.

Gray Lexly, son of a candlemaker, wants to escape his life of old-world technologies and study at the prestigious Astra Academy, a school for arcanists—those who can wield magic. But Gray has a major problem. Every night, as he sleeps, he’s visited by monsters. When they injure Gray in his dreams, he wakes with the same wounds in real life…

On the night Gray might finally die in his nightmares, he is saved by the kind and mysterious Professor Helmith, a powerful arcanist. She offers to protect Gray and invites him to attend Astra Academy.

Before that can happen, Gray must bond with a mystical creature to become an arcanist himself. Will he bond with a unicorn? A pegasus? A kitsune? Whatever he bonds with will determine his magical abilities, so he must choose wisely.

And when trouble finds Professor Helmith, Gray must become powerful enough to help her and fend off the terrible nightmares, before it’s too late…

I really enjoyed this fun, imaginative fantasy novel. I've not read any of Shami Stovall's Chronicles of Frith series, but this one works really well as an introduction to her world. 

It's a magical school, with all that that involves. There are kids from different backgrounds thrown into dorm rooms and class rooms together. There are students with very little knowledge of this magical world trying to find their feet. There are rivalries and close friendships and bullying . Gray has always dreamt of going to the academy, and finally meeting the professor who has been watching over his dreams in person. But as soon as he arrives he realises something is wrong. He has a central mystery to investigate and very little idea who to trust. That storyline is really intriguing and captivating and pulled me along to a dramatic conclusion with ease.

One of the main strengths of Academy Arcanist, that raises it above a lot of magical school stories, is the way it deals with mystical creatures. To become an arcanist you have to bond with a mystical creature of some kind, and you then share their powers while they share your life force. There's a wonderful mix of classical creatures, like unicorns, kitsune and dragons, with some that feel more original while still steeped in lore, like the sinister Reaper or protective Knightmare. The ranking of creatures adds another level to the school hierarchy, and gives the world a sophisticated magical system with mystical creatures at its heart.

By far the best of these creatures is the one Gray bonds with, Twain. This little kitten is absolutely adorable, blending all of the familiar traits of a cat with some powerful magic. He's grumpy and cute and I utterly love him. 

I love how the characters break away from familiar archetypes too. Sorin, Gray's brother, is big and strong and tough, but has the heart and soul of a poet. Nini seems sweet and quiet, but it feels like there's a darkness there. There's a complexity to it all and I'm really looking forward to seeing how these characters grow and develop in future books.

The only very minor gripe is the book has a tendency to constantly remind the reader who is which type of arcanist, almost like it's a part of someone's name or title.


Academy Arcanist by Shami Stovall is out on 23rd August 2022, published by Capital Station Books.
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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