We all ultimately have something in life to live for. Whether it be a loved one at home, or some sort of duty that we are undeniably bound to. Whatever point we may be at in life, if we dig deep enough, we are sure to find that special something which pushes us on to struggle for life in this world. Nowhere is this struggle more evident than on the field of battle. Individuals desperately trying to stay alive so that they can get back to whatever it is in their life which matters the most to them. In Blood on the Snow by author David Cook, we see just such an intense conflict in action. A great read for not only fans of historical fiction, but for anyone who enjoys great writing and a fascinating story!
Essentially, the story follows the trials and tribulations of the main character, Lieutenant Jack Hallam. Set in the midst of the British Flanders Campaign in 1794, Hallam and his unit are up against a mighty French army. This overpowering foe is not the only issue for Hallam however. He also must contend with ruthless French deserters and British superior officers who show their incompetence and pure negligence at every turn. In the middle of the unforgiving brutality of war, Hallam must fight against all these odds which are stacked up so high against him. On the other side of this virtual Hell is his beautiful new wife and potential “happy ever after” life which awaits him if he can manage to return from the front. However, getting there in one piece may be a serious problem. With danger lurking at all sides, will the brave lieutenant make it back to his home safe and sound? Or will he ultimately be another lonely soldier who has fallen on the merciless field of battle.
There can be little doubt that this story has an awful lot going for it. For instance, the plot is gripping and will mesmerize the reader from start to finish. Be forewarned however as it can be graphic. The author does not hold anything back in his description of the horrors of war. All this lends to the feeling of authenticity. The flow from scene to scene is quite smooth as well. I particularly like how well Cook is able to juxtapose the savagery of battle alongside some very touching and tender moments. While a history buff will already know the outcome of this Campaign, the reader in us stays along for the actual storytelling. Captivating from start to finish.
While the plot of Blood on the Snow is top-notch, I find that the characters are what really carry the day. Typically I find that they are rarely fully developed in novellas to my own satisfaction. In this particular piece however that is not the case. As the protagonist, Hallam is developed in the most depth. He is a wholly likeable and memorable individual. The type of person in which heroes are made of. He is backed up by a company of soldiers with their own variety of strengths and flaws. We are able to truly identify with them, which in turn further engages us in the story. Lastly, Captain Clements as the drunken and incompetent leader shows us a whole different side. A totally despicable person with few (if any) redeeming qualities to speak of. He is the antithesis of Hallam and it works extraordinarily well.
All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed this story. I was a little disappointed it ended so soon. I believe there is so much more left to say.
4 out of 5 Bloody stars for this one!