Writer of Horror Fiction

Review of Brian Moreland’s “Shadows In The Mist”

Shadows in the Mist was the first novel written by author Brian Moreland, written several years ago but that has been re-released this month by Samhain Publishing.  I’m not sure what modifications were made to the original tale, if any, with this new version.

While most of this story takes place in the Hurtgen Forest in Germany in late World War II, part of it is told through the eyes of Sean Chambers in the present day.  He is the grandson of Jack Chambers, the main character.  Jack was a Lieutenant during the war and led his men into battle from Northern Africa all the way into Germany.  His last mission in the Hurgten still torments him to this day.  When Jack gives Sean his war diary and asks him to hand it over to his friend, General Briggs, who is stationed in Germany, a Rabbi who served with Jack on that last mission catches up with Sean and urges him to forget his grandfather’s request and let sleeping dogs lie.  The mission was top secret and it would be better for everyone if it stayed that way.  Compelled by his grandfather’s request and ignoring the ominous threats of the Rabbi, Sean and the General return to Hurtgen and to a church Jack referenced were the real mystery lies buried.  This is also where Sean begins to read his grandfather’s war diary so he can better understand what happened all those years ago.

The rest of this tale returns us to the battles in Hurtgen that Jack and his platoon suffered through.  Jack had been dubbed the Grim Reaper by some, since so many of his men died under his command, though it is clear that he has been given some of the most dangerous assignments in the war and that he has done all that he can to protect the soldiers under his command.  We are introduced to the six men in his platoon who, along with Chambers, dub themselves the Lucky Seven because they alone have survived through every battle together.  Promises are made that they will be sent back home after years in the field, but the officer who makes that promise to Chambers dies before he can send that request to HQ and his new commanding officer insists they complete one last mission-a secret one with a group of commandos looking to push the Germans out of the Hurtgen for good.  As the men reluctantly join this group of gung ho secret operatives, including a Lieutenant who shares an ugly past with Chambers, they discover that the mission has much darker goal than they’ve been told-uncovering how the Nazi’s are using supernatural means to create super soldiers.

This is the second novel I’ve read by Brian Moreland and much like his other effort, Dead of Winter, it provides the reader with a well researched and thought out story providing historically accurate and intriguing details, but doesn’t suffer from being over-stuffed with “technical” minutia that might distract from an otherwise intriguing supernatural adventure tale.  Certainly, the idea of the Nazi’s discovering artifacts and texts of a religious nature which provide them with an advantage in their quest to become the master race is not a new one, but the author has drawn from historical events to craft his story, which gave it the right touch of authenticity and made it feel all the more plausible and entertaining.

I enjoyed this novel-my overriding appreciation for it comes from Jack’s tale as divulged in his war diary.  The characters-in particular the Lucky Seven and Jack’s hated lieutenant rival-were all entertaining and solidly developed individuals.  But as I like to do with each book that I review, I like to point out where the story might have missed the mark for me.  With Shadows In the Mist, it was with the present day portion of the tale.  It just felt like it was missing something.  Early in, Sean is warned about the dire consequences of digging into the past and discovering what Jack and the Rabbi who was with him during his mission worked so hard to cover up in the Hurgten, and then Sean does continue digging, then Jack’s story is revealed, and then we return to present day and …well, I don’t like to divulge spoilers, so I’ll leave it at that, except to say that the rest of Sean and General Brigg’s story left me expecting more.  My honest belief is that this book could have stuck to Jack’s tale from World War II exclusively and it would have been a great stand alone tale.

Even with this issue of mine, this is a fun, entertaining supernatural adventure novel that was well done and a lot of fun to read.  Definitely worth checking out.

Shadows in the Mist  can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/Shadows-Mist-Brian-Moreland/dp/1619210665/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1347167908&sr=1-1&keywords=shadows+in+the+mist

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