Review: A Song for No Man's Land by Andy Remic

Posted by DarkChaplain at 5/08/2016
He signed up to fight with visions of honour and glory, of fighting for king and country, of making his family proud at long last.

But on a battlefield during the Great War, Robert Jones is shot, and wonders how it all went so very wrong, and how things could possibly get any worse.

He'll soon find out. When the attacking enemy starts to shapeshift into a nightmarish demonic force, Jones finds himself fighting an impossible war against an enemy that shouldn't exist.
Starting in January 2016, I went on a bit of a novella-binge. I picked up a bunch of them, and found some gems in the process. A Song for No Man's Land is one of those.

The Story:
"He signed up to fight with visions of honour and glory, of fighting for king and country, of making his family proud at long last.

But on a battlefield during the Great War, Robert Jones is shot, and wonders how it all went so very wrong, and how things could possibly get any worse.

He'll soon find out. When the attacking enemy starts to shapeshift into a nightmarish demonic force, Jones finds himself fighting an impossible war against an enemy that shouldn't exist."

The Review
A Song for No Man's Land truly is an odd one. It is far more of a historical soldier's tale set during World War I than a fantasy, and yet a fantasy story it is. I somehow wonder if it had to be, though.

The supernatural elements only really creep in as part of the reality of the plot in the final chapters, and personally, that was too late. I would have been fine without it, or having them be down to the characters' deteriorating psyche and closeness to death's door. But then things moved quickly, and I scratched my head. Things came out of left field, and somehow it tainted some very strong scenes that had me captivated already.

And yet still it held a certain charme, and I want to know where this series will be going with it all. The characters of Robert Jones, George Webb and Charlie Bainbridge all had a good amount of depth and development to them, and a sense of humanity. They all brought the desperation of being involved in the Great War to the fore in different ways. They all were broken, both by the war and their prior life experiences. And yet they were all sympathetic in my eyes, at least most of the time.

It is down to the gritty trench warfare that focused so much on the characters, their mental state, their behavior under unsurmountable stress, and the repetitiveness of their lives in the army, that my rating is the way it is. I liked it, I did very much. It clicked for me, and I even enjoyed the traumatic flashback sequences throughout.
But I also believe that this could have easily been a better story had it been a one-shot, without the supernatural spin. Up until the finale, few changes would need to be made at all to turn this from a good into an excellent novella. The anti-war message remains strong and the shrapnel cuts deep, but in the end the effects felt blunted.
Either way, I'll be reading the sequel.

A Song for No Man's Land on Goodreads

About the Author

I'm known as DarkChaplain across the internet, and call myself a passionate gamer and book enthusiast. I have been blogging mostly about games for a couple of years, but finally found my way to reviewing a different medium: Books. Honestly, I prefer that job so far.
Follow Me on Twitter @TheDarkChaplain


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