I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Haunting Scent of Poppies by Victoria Williamson
Published by Silver Thistle Press on 1 December 2023
Genres: Historical Fiction
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spine-chilling winter ghost story set in the months after the Great War. Perfect for lovers of MR James and Susan Hill
The War is over, but for petty criminal Charlie his darkest days are only just beginning.
Charlie Briggs is never off-duty, even when a botched job means he's forced to lay low in a sleepy Hampshire town for the holiday season. Always searching for his next unwitting victim, or a shiny trinket he can pilfer, he can't believe his luck when he happens upon a rare book so valuable it will set him up for life. All he needs to do is sit tight until Boxing Day. But there's a desperate story that bleeds beyond the pages; something far more dangerous than London's mobsters is lurking in the shadows.
Could the book be cursed? Why is he haunted by the horrors of war? Can he put things right before he's suffocated by his own greed?
The Haunting Scent of Poppies is a captivating historical fiction novella that immerses readers in the tumultuous landscape of the First World War. Written by the talented Victoria Williamson, this book skillfully weaves together a compelling narrative that combines historical accuracy with engaging characters to provide a vivid and emotional portrayal of a pivotal period in human history.
The synopsis instantly drew me in. it was a difficult topic with that was dealt with the utmost dignity and respect. His characters are edgy and relatable and its most definitely inspiration from everyday life. The story focusses on Charlie Briggs a masterful and conniving thief who operates in the shadowy realms of the criminal underworld. He steals to get by, not that that is excusable but it is what it is. His next target – a rare and valuable book. This would be the artifact that would set him up for life – no stealing, no secrets, that would be it. Finally.
Charlie takes on multiple personalities to suit each job. He hints at being in the army multiple times but what is the real backstory? Tragic and astounding. The story immediately calls for audience participation. You want to jump into the book and knock some sense into a lot of people but that is what’s just brilliant about this story. This story is an escape, it made realise just how boring and dull my everyday life is.
Victoria Williamson is an award-winning author who grew up in Scotland surrounded by hills, books, and an historical farm estate which inspired many of her early adventure stories and spooky tales. After studying Physics at the University of Glasgow, she set out on her own real-life adventures, which included teaching maths and science in Cameroon, training teachers in Malawi, teaching English in China and working with children with additional support needs in the UK. Victoria currently works part time writing KS2 books for the education company Twinkl and spends the rest of her time writing novels, and visiting schools, libraries and literary festivals to give author talks and run creative writing workshops.
Victoria’s previous novels include The Fox Girl and the White Gazelle, The Boy with the Butterfly Mind, Hag Storm, and War of the Wind. She has won the Bolton Children’s Fiction Award 2020/2021, The YA-aldi Glasgow Secondary School Libraries Book Award 2023, and has been shortlisted for the Week Junior Book Awards 2023, The Leeds Book Awards 2023, the Red Book Award 2023, the James Reckitt Hull Book Awards 2021, The Trinity School Book Awards 2021, and longlisted for the ABA South Coast Book Awards 2023, the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize 2020, and the Branford Boase Award 2019.
Her latest novel, The Pawnshop of Stolen Dreams, is a middle grade fantasy inspired by classic folklore. Twenty percent of the author royalties for this book are donated to CharChar Literacy, an organisation working to improve children’s literacy levels in Malawi.
You can find out more about Victoria’s books, school visits and free resources for schools on her website: www.strangelymagical.com