Friday 24 June 2016

REVIEW: Rich Hawkins - Fallen Soldier

Genre: Horror
Publisher: Self Published
Publication Date: 3rd June 2016
Pages: 21


A copy of the Fallen Soldier was sent to Confessions of a Reviewer by the author, Rich Hawkins, in exchange for an honest review. This is said review. This book is self-published.

OK so it’s time for the boss man of Confessions to confess!

I have never read Rich Hawkins before. I know. I am ashamed and have suitably punished myself by not allowing myself any cake for thirty minutes. It was tough, but I did it.

Funny, we had a discussion about this when Rich said on Facebook he feels awkward approaching reviewers to pick his stuff up. I made the comment that some of us are so busy we can’t read for our own selfish pleasure because we get so many submissions. That is the reason I have never read Rich before. So he asked about Fallen Soldier and I was now obliged to read him.

This is what I thought.

Joseph has just returned from the trenches in France. His life has been totally changed forever from what he has seen, and had to endure.

When he returns home, he is startled by his father’s appearance and even more worried by the absence of his mother. When he finally sees her, he soon discovers that the horrors he witnessed during the Great War are nothing compared to the horrors in his father’s cellar.

Characters wise is a simple one in this one. You have Joseph, his father, his mother and a, well, thing. Joseph is a lost soul. He is so traumatised from the war that he has virtually given up. In today’s world he would probably be diagnosed as a manic depressive with PTSD. His father is equally as traumatised and the reasons for that soon become clear. His mother has undergone a complete transformation. And the thing? Eugh.

The plot is simple. Joseph comes home from the war, his mother has been attacked by something and changed. He wants revenge. Thus starts a chase against time for Joseph to find a beast and destroy it before it attacks again.

Been done before I hear you say? Well, yes it probably has been done before in a few novels you have read. Do you think it can be done in a twenty-one-page short story though, and still be effective? If you write like Rich Hawkins, then yes it can sir.

I often say that short stories are a perfect way to introduce yourself to a new writer. If you are stupid enough, like me, never to have read Rich Hawkins before then pick this up. I don’t think you will be stupid for very long and, like me, will be picking up more of his stuff very quickly.

The writing style in this is superb. Perfect short story writing. Full of short, punchy sentences that get you to the point extremely effectively without dragging out information and back story that you don’t need to know. Within two pages you know everything you need to about Joseph. You know his character and his history and how the war has affected him. You can empathise and sympathise with him in no time. I know some books that I have read that take two hundred pages to achieve the same thing.

You know what is going to happen. You know how it is going to happen but Mr Hawkins’ writing style builds the tension, and the horror, perfectly. You know the direction you’re going, you just don’t know what route you are taking and that makes it scarier. You know when you smack a spider with a paper but you aren’t sure if it’s dead or not? This is how you will feel reading Fallen Soldier. You know the way sometimes if you are a passenger in a car you feel yourself pressing on the brake for the driver? This short story will have your legs moving because you want to run away. Very fast.

Sometimes when I read a short story of twenty pages or so I panic and think how can I write a six-hundred-word review on that? This word is number seven hundred. That should tell you how good this story is.

To summarise: do yourself a favour and just buy it. If you have read him before you know what to expect. If you haven’t read him before, I guarantee you will read more now.

General rating:

★★★★★ crackin stuff.

Horror rating:

★★★★★ scary as owt.

If you would like to help support Confessions of a Reviewer, then please consider using the links below to buy Fallen Soldier or any other books from Rich. This not only supports me but also lets me know how many people actually like to buy books after reading my reviews.


Book Synopsis:

Joseph Hobbs returns from the battlefields of the Great War to find his family home in disrepair and his mother transformed into a bloodthirsty monster. Wanting revenge, he has no choice but to venture into the nearby woods to find the creature that infected her. But will he survive an encounter with such an evil creature? And if he does, will it be at the cost of his humanity?

"A chillingly bleak tale." - Daniel Marc Chant, author or Mr. Robespierre.

Rich Hawkins hails from deep in the West Country, where a childhood of science fiction and horror films set him on the path to writing his own stories. He credits his love of horror and all things weird to his first viewing of John Carpenter's THE THING. His debut novel THE LAST PLAGUE was nominated for a British Fantasy Award for Best Horror Novel in 2015. The sequel, THE LAST OUTPOST, was released in the autumn of 2015.

The final novel in the trilogy, THE LAST SOLDIER, was released in March 2016.

And for more about Rich, visit his site or find him on social media:

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