by Elaine White July 24, 2017
Now, let's get the warnings out of the way. The book comes with the following warnings: this book contains scenes of graphic violence. Well, yup it does. It's a Horror/Thriller story and it's fitting that it has some squeakish scenes, such as beatings, attempted and off-page rape, torture, the pulling out of fingernails, as well as some of the more experimental tortures undertaken. This is all part and parcel of the military theme and the Nazi regime of torturing prisoners. Having read a lot of horror/thriller stories, I can say that although some of the things made me feel uncomfortable, due to the realism and the knowledge that these tortures were used in real life, by the Nazis, there was nothing that really turned my stomach.
For me, reading this was like watching an old classic war movie, with a supernatural twist. Which, I know, never existed, but it should. This would make a fantastic movie! I had it all in my head, with the start showing us something exciting and intriguing, before the next chapter took us back to see how it had all started and what led up to it. I love that it kept that feel throughout the novel, adding a great pace and storytelling style that felt natural and comfortable. I definitely saw hints of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade to it, with the feel and the Nazi aims concerning the occult, yet it was still highly original and brilliant.
I loved the characters. Hagen was the perfect character to have his POV, allowing us to see all the important events and how they affect him throughout the adventures these guys go through. I loved that he was a badass right from the start, didn't really believe in himself and had a bit of a confidence complex. He only got better as the story went on. Liam was a little spitfire and I loved everything about him, from the quirky attitude to the teasing and the strength of character that meant he was able to drag Hagen through some impossible situations just because of their feelings for each other. Their chemistry was brilliant and I loved how they slowly progressed from friendship to a relationship. Everything about it was natural and logical; it wasn't rushed or over emphasised at all.
Justine was highly curious and intriguing; I loved the way that she was such a feisty character, yet knew all the things that they needed to know and didn't always tell them. She was just one character who helped add a little mystery to the plot and gave Hagen the confidence to find out who he really was inside. Similarly, I wasn't sure what to make of Sgt. Collins at first. He was a real pain in the ass and offered some moments of hilarity (particulary in the fart in the car scene) but the more the story progressed, the more I grew to appreciate the subtlety of his character. He really provided some great mood-breaking moments of fun and relief. I'd love to see more of him in future books, the same as Justine.
Rolph, in particular, was brilliant! I mean, it really added another level of confusion, of curiosity and intrigue to the story, while adding a personal touch that Hagen struggled to deal with, at times. I loved all the parts that he appeared in and how he managed to manipulate events. He really progressed and pushed the story into what it became and it was great.
I absolutely loved and appreciated the equality of a woman being a paratrooper and a professor in a time when equality wasn't something that most women got to experience in that era. It was beautiful to see, although it was sad the ways that Roesia had to suffer in the hands of the Nazis.
The inclusion of Winston Churchill and Adolf Hitler was a great twist, because it showed us just how these two would have a part in the overall arc of the story. It made sense, it was logical and it suited the story perfectly.
I'll admit, at the start, there were few of the Night Angels that I really liked and enjoyed reading about, but they all grew on me eventually. Some were brave, strong and faced adversity with pride and a strength that was great to see; some were annoying and frustrating, only to become sweet and amazing. I loved that they all had their part, that they had a two-fold mission that some people in the team didn't know about, while others did. It made the reveal of each individual aspect all the more interesting. Especially when we're finally introduced to Euan's situation and all that it entails.
There is a lot that I can't talk about, plot wise, because of so much of it being important to the plot progression and final reveal. I don't want to give any spoilers so there's a lot I won't be talking about. However, I do want to mention the completely genius creativity that this plot involves. Not only from concept to progression to execution, it was a perfect blend of careful planning and attention to detail that made the paranormal elements of werewolves feel completely natural within the Nazi era. It's well known that Hitler was obsessed with the occult and that he and his people conducted heinous experiments on their prisoners, so it was more than just rational and logical to link these two together.
The flashbacks were brilliant at showing us things we needed to know, just when we needed to know them. They really helped the psychological thriller aspect of the story that was spine-tingling at times and helped move the plot along in other places. Just as the curiosity of how the wolves reacted to Hagen left us getting, so did the constant action and suspense. All of it combined really showed us how much Hagen had protected himself from memories and the truth, all this time, while giving all the right revelations at the right time, for us to piece the truth together on our own.
Unlike some books in the paranormal genre, I really loved that these characters got hurt. They went into impossible situations, including torture, and came out with serious injuries. They didn't end up miraculously unscathed at any point, which was awesome. Because, sometimes, seeing the badass guy have to stumble through injuries and worry about his mortality is way more interesting than just waltzing through it without a worry. At the same time, the realism of Liam being untrained to handle a gun, being an Airman, was genius! It was a great little tidbit that had a big impact, because it was so realistic and natural. The way that he keeps shooting until there are no bullets left just goes to show the fear, the anticipation, the nerves and how untrained he really is. It's those subtle details that I loved the most. Just as they get hurt, people die and don't make it out of the situation alive. That's real and logical and the way it should be. It added an extra depth to the characters, to see them mourn and fear for their lives, each time they lost one of their own.
At the same time, the punishments were brutal and honest, with a realism that definitely made me feel squidgy inside, but didn't go so far as to turn my stomach. Thankfully, most of the worst stuff was off page or not done in detail, but there was still attempted sexual assault, a golden shower used as punishment of a prisoner for the guards entertainment, imprisonment and torture, such a fingernails being pulled out, all on page. It was hard to read, at times, because I know a lot about the Holocaust and what people suffered there, so I knew some things were a little too real and were plucked from history itself, but that was part of the genius; rolling together fact and fiction until it blended into one believable story.
Overall, I could gush about this book all day and back again. But, I won't. Just go read it. You won't be sorry. Between the world building, the characterisation, the pace and uniqueness of the plot and the attention to detail, to the ending and that Epilogue...it was perfection. Everything I could have hoped for and wanted when I started reading it.
I can't wait to read more!
“How was one to know when they went completely insane? Did it just happen and you never knew any better? He wanted insanity, or better yet, to live in a world of fantasy rather than what he thought he would be forced to live through for his remaining few weeks or months.”