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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Winston’s War

Winston’s war is the first of four books that follow Winston through the war years.

It’s 1938 and the then Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain has pulled off a masterstroke of diplomacy by securing “Peace for our time” thanks to a deal with Adolph Hitler.  Whilst Britain celebrates, Winston Churchill MP becomes ever more the villain as he seeks to replace compromise with conflict.  Intimately follow an outcast Winston as he defeats both his own internal gremlins and those within the House of Lords to become Britain’s newest Prime Minister.  All this, of course, set against the background of Europe, lost in retreat and looking for hope and leadership.

I loved this book.  Winston leaps off the page thanks to beautiful characterisation.  Churchill is well researched yet embellished with enough “writer’s licence” to give him back his human frailty and depth of thought.  Meanwhile key historical events are candidly experienced and explained through a number of interlaced side stories.

If you enjoy a good yarn that will teach you some of the less publicised truths behind Britains entry into WWII then you too will embrace this series of books.   On the other hand if you are a strict scholar of 20th Century history then you may find the odd fictional leap of faith unpalatable.

Rating: ★★★★½ 

Book Information
  • Author: Michael Dobbs
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