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Book Review: The Haunting Scent of Poppies by Victoria Williamson #TheWriteReads #BlogTour

My dear bookish friends!

Victoria Williamson has been on my radar a lot this year (thanks to TheWriteReads blogtours!) and she is one of the few authors whose entire book collection I really liked, one after the other she just seems to churn out one banger after the next! I previously read (and loved) her books which were aimed at a younger audience, so The Haunting Scent of Poppies – being a ghost story for adults – is really something different, but omg let me tell you, I loved this book even more!! With 100 pages it makes for a quick read, and it is so well-written it reads like an authentic gothic novel. Spine-chilling and haunting are just two terms I’d use for it. But before I get into my review in more detail let’s have a look at what the book is about!

Also, a huge thank you to Victoria Williamson and TheWriteReads for my review copy of the book (which did not affect my rating in any way).

About the Book

A 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?

My Review

Charlie Briggs is a petty criminal who doesn’t think much about his victims. He takes what he wants from whoever crosses his path. When he comes across a rare war book in a tiny little bookshop just before Christmas he knows this is exactly what he needs to retire – perhaps his biggest catch yet. With one swift motion of his experienced hands the book is his – but he doesn’t yet know that his life just turned a very bad corner. For the book was not his to keep, and its previous owner is going to make sure he pays…

The Haunting Scent of Poppies is so well-written it reminded me of one of the original 18th century gothic novels. To me the writing was reminiscent of Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, but Ann Radcliffe and Mary Shelley also came to mind. The way the author managed to create this aura of fear, the one our main character is trying so hard to ignore at first, then the lingering feeling that something isn’t quite right, before the haunting takes over, was masterful in its execution.

I thought the way Williamson managed to show how the unease slowly grows, how the main character tries to play it down at first, but then it manifests itself in daylight hauntings as well as in his dreams before it takes over reality was exceptional. The Haunting Scent of Poppies is just a short book but I know it will stay on my mind for a long time. I can still see the little bookshow, the snowy town and the quiet inn over Christmas in front of my inner eye, and then that one single poppy in the snow…

The Haunting Scent of Poppies is the story of vengence, guilt, and the heavy weight of a guilty conscience. I loved her other work but I think this might be Williamson’s best yet.

5 stars well-deserved.


Thank you all so much for reading, and do let me know if you pick up The Haunting Scent of Poppies (which you really should!).


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