War. Huh. What is it good for?
Horror and war horribly go well together because they’re pretty damn similar. Wellins carves the two well, creating a realistic, if fictional portrait of life during the final stages of World War two in battle ravaged Europe.
Alone and lost deep behind enemy lines, a small group of American soldiers find themselves in a deserted town after their mission goes disastrously wrong. Up until this point it already feels like a fantastic war novel as the perils mount up and the stakes get higher, what else could possibly go wrong?
From the shadowy ruins of the town, a mystery unfolds, a horrible, hidden reality that starts to pick off the men one by one, a truth born of the war that is both a tragedy and an atrocity.
Wellins writes well, the book is incredibly well researched and he really immerses the reader in his hellish world, letting them taste every bullet, every mouthful of dirt, every drop of dirty rain to great effect. He makes the situation desperate, then continues to turn the pressure up full and chips away the sanity of the soldiers as the situation becomes more maddening.
I thoroughly enjoyed Wellins’ previous novel “Upon my Worst Enemy” which follows a similar pattern of soldiers in a dire situation and twists their predicament further, and “Whispers from the Gods of War” is equally as engrossing. There’s a filmic quality throughout, a sense of pathos and you really feel the characters, no matter which side they’re fighting for. Imagine Saving Private Ryan and Children of the Corn, but infinitely more bloody and creepy, you’re not even half way there.
Even if you’re not a fan of war novels, this is an exemplary horror novel in its own right, and I’m surprised Wellins isn’t widely read. Please change that.
Five stars ( and a purple heart)