Bitter Seeds by Ian Tregillis: Audio Book Review

Bitter Seeds by Ian Tregillis
Title: Bitter Seeds
Author: Ian Tregillis (Reader: Kevin Pariseau)
Publisher: Audible Studios
Publication Date: August 2010
Length: 14 hr 11 min (352 pages)
Series: The Milkweed Triptych
Audio or Book: Audio
Reason for Discovery: Sword & Laser Book Club

From GoodReads:

It's 1939. The Nazis have supermen, the British have demons, and one perfectly normal man gets caught in between Raybould Marsh is a British secret agent in the early days of the Second World War, haunted by something strange he saw on a mission during the Spanish Civil War: a German woman with wires going into her head who looked at him as if she knew him. 

When the Nazis start running missions with people who have unnatural abilities--a woman who can turn invisible, a man who can walk through walls, and the woman Marsh saw in Spain who can use her knowledge of the future to twist the present--Marsh is the man who has to face them. He rallies the secret warlocks of Britain to hold the impending invasion at bay. But magic always exacts a price. Eventually, the sacrifice necessary to defeat the enemy will be as terrible as outright loss would be. Alan Furst meets Alan Moore in the opening of an epic of supernatural alternate history, the tale of a twentieth century like ours and also profoundly different.
Yea for a nice summary blurb from GoodReads for Bitter Seeds. Let's jump into the book.
I was really expecting to enjoy this book. The idea of people with wires coming out of their heads seemed strange and interesting. Also, I enjoy reading books from alternate timelines (e.g., Parasol Protectorate series by Gail Carriger and the Temeraire series by Naomi Novik). I think it is neat to see what would happen to our timeline if we added fantastical or science fiction elements. Unfortunately, I just felt frustrated while reading Bitter Seeds. 

Going into Bitter Seeds, I did not know there were warlocks (I clearly only read the first paragraph of the blurb). I thought this was going to be a straight up SF novel. I must admit that I was a bit annoyed when the warlocks showed up. Yes, SF and fantasy can live harmoniously in one universe; however, I didn't feel like it worked in this instance. In particular, Tregillis' world building was lackluster. I needed to know more about the folks with the wires, and I definitely needed to know more about the warlocks. The "wire folks" were a recent invention, so I could see how their presence did not change the world just yet. However, the warlocks had been around for a long time. I don't understand how they had not affected the world in more ways prior to World War II. In short, I needed to have a better explanation of how everything in the world worked. I couldn't enjoy the story, but I kept getting distracted about how all of this SF and magic had remained hidden for so long. 

Another frustrating issue with this book was the pacing. There were some interesting stretches in the story, but (IMO) there were even long stretches of book that just seemed to go on forever. My attention kept wandering throughout the book, and I found myself counting down until the end of each chapter. I found myself only reading the book, because I felt indifferent about it and it was an audio book. 

Audio: Speaking of the audio, let's talk about it. Pariseau was a clear reader. I found his tone, reading, and pacing dull, but I am not sure if that was because the book was boring or Pariseau was a poor reader. He did a decent job with the voices and overall he was a good reader, so I am going to lay the blame on Tregillis for the lackluster audio. I think Pariseau was bored too. 

Overall, I found Bitter Seeds to be a dull book. I will not be reading the sequels anytime soon. I would encourage you to try His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik, if you are looking for a fun alterna-history story.
I give this book a 2 out of 5. 

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