There have been many, many books written about the First World War, from different perspectives, time and place, so I was surprised to see something taking a dissimilar route. This is an unusual WW1 story that includes mystery, horror, romance and the unexpected.
In the aftermath of war the trenches in France hold remains and secrets. As the army try to locate and identify their fallen men, a woman attempts to find her fiancé to take him home, keeping a promise she made to him. However, there is a place called Two Storm Wood that is rumoured to hold deserters and others. It lies in no-man's-land in the trenches and sends out stories of danger, ghosts and unspeakable horror.
At times the book reads like a thriller, other times like a romance and sometimes it is quite plodding. Mostly though, it reads like a study of what humanity is capable of and what it endures. There is a theme of the psychology of war and how people learn about themselves and the humanity, or lack of it, that man draws upon when the need arises. Written in the third person from the point of view of a solider looking for the remains, a detective investigating possible murder, the woman and her fiancé, within a timespan before, during and after the war. The perceptions of the characters at the beginning of the book change as the story unfolds, with the dark remnants and remains of war: physical, human and psychological.
Something different to read centring around the Great War, worth a read.
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Published by Vintage Digital on 13 January 2022.
Advanced review copy supplied by the publisher.