Review: Bitter Seeds (Milkweed 1)

Bitter SeedsBy Ian Tregillis

Orbit, out now

A terrifying Nazi plan to use psychic powers: is the only way to counter it to fight fire with fire?

If it wasn’t for the author interview at the end of this book, I wouldn’t have realised that Ian Tregillis wasn’t a British writer – apart from the annoying American spellings (which really should have been fixed for the UK edition of this book!) there are no real clues in the style that he hails from the US, so successful has he been in evoking the atmosphere of pre-war and wartime Britain (as well as Civil War Spain, Germany, France and Russia).

Tregillis has not shied away from the moral complexities of wartime, when people have to take decisions and act in a way which would normally have them shunned by most others. There are moments when our apparent heroes in this do things that you want to turn away from (one blood sacrifice involving a pub-full of people is particularly well described), and times when it’s clear that wartime has given others a licence to indulge their less pleasant sides.

It’s not a standalone novel, but the start of a trilogy, but the various threads should be sufficient to bring most readers back for the next volume, partly, it has to be said, to see if Tregillis manages not to take the predictable path with some of the plotlines he has left to be resolved.

Verdict: An enjoyable rewriting of the Second World War that deviates sufficiently from history to ensure you don’t know what’s coming next. 7/10

Paul Simpson

Click here to order Bitter Seeds from Amazon.co.uk

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