Bitter Seeds

 STOP!

No doubt having read the title of this book you will have already tagged it as another Agatha Christie style doppelganger (nothing wrong with that of course).   However, the reality could not be more distant.

In Bitter Seeds, Ian Tregillis sends us back to 1939 Britain; a nation at war and about to suffer its worst military defeat in living memory upon the shores of Europe.  In this book Ian cleverly interlaces the supernatural with the history of the time, pitting the dark magic of the old empire against weird science of the new.

Too far fetched you think?  Not so.  I found the tale both convincing and absorbing, and the strong story line had me galloping along towards the final page at a breakneck pace.    The backdrops too are atmospheric, the plot lines strong and the characters full of life and interest.  I found Bitter Seeds to be a real breath of fresh air, perhaps with subtle aromas of H.P. Lovecraft here and there.  I certainly can’t wait to read book two.

So what of the writer?  Certainly I had not heard of Ian Tregillis before.  However, throughout the book Ian demonstrates great skill.  Clever details in a character’s manner are picked out, lending them depth and humanity.  Similarly, places are given atmosphere with subtle hits of smell, sound or feel.  The net result is a very immersive experience that you are going to want more of.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Book Information
  • Author: Ian Tregillis
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The Long Walk

The truth can be an opiate when woven into a tale and The Long Walk is so much more than a story.  It is a tale that illustrates mans infinite capacity for cruelty, courage, deprivation and sacrifice in order to achieve the simplest of tasks – staying alive.

The book follows a young Polish Cavalry officer who is caught up in the Second World War and taken prisoner by the Russians.  Interrogated and processed, he is then shipped out in terrible conditions to a labour camp in Siberia.  This first part of the book provides a fascinating and humbling window into the cruelty and injustice of Stalin’s Russia.

It is at this point that the book takes off in a different direction.  Slavomir describes how he and his accomplices escape the camp and complete an epic journey across some of the most inhospitable terrain in the world.  This is a tale not of adventure (although there is some) but of the power of comradeship and hidden capability of men when life comes calling.  I was also touched by the humanity of strangers in faraway places.

This is a fabulous book not because it is technically clever or masterfully written (although it pulls you along beautifully) but because it is both humbling and inspiring at the same time.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Book Information
  • Author: Slavomir Rawicz
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