Thursday, December 03, 2009

Book Review: The Secret War

Here's the third of my three reviews for the November Historical Novels Review.

The Secret War, M.F.W. Curran

In the aftermath of the battle of Waterloo, Captain William Saxon and Lieutenant Kieran Harte are wounded and battle-weary – but the end of the war with Napoleon is the beginning of another war for these life-long friends. When a powerful evil object is found and comes into William's possession, he and Kieran are set on a path filled with danger, political intrigue – and daemons.

I wanted very much to like this book. The concept – a hidden war between Heaven and Hell, played out against the backdrop of the end of the Napoleonic era – has a great deal to recommend it to a fan of fantasy and history alike. Unfortunately, it does not live up to the promise. The book could have used a stronger editing hand – while Curran renders the time and place fairly well, the story suffers from telling rather than showing, jumping-head point of view shifts, stilted dialog, and slow pacing (especially for the subject matter). The lack of polish made it very difficult for me to engage with the story, and though filled with potentially interesting twists and monsters, overall it fell flat for me.

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