After five years of war in Afghanistan, Michael Alexander returns home a broken man, haunted by the ghosts of war. Returning to Georgia, he tries to start a new life. But something evil followed him from the mountains of Afghanistan, it’s tearing up everything in its path, and Michael is squarely in its sights.
To survive, Michael has to rely on his military and martial arts training; forge an unlikely alliance with his friends, a homeless prophet and the family members of a lost love; and take the fight to the relentless demon.
But the demon is merely the first of many monsters to come.
(Full disclosure: I received an advance copy in exchange for a blurb.)
WAR DEMONS by Russell Newquist is hands-down the finest urban fantasy thriller I’ve read this year by an indie author. The first book of the Prodigal Son series, WAR DEMONS features a battered veteran struggling with inner and outer demons, a taut mystery intertwined with an ever-escalating conflict, outstanding action set pieces, and all-too-human characters battling with the forces of evil.
Newquist has long championed the Superversive movement, and it shines through in WAR DEMONS. This is an unabashedly Christian work, built on a Christian sense of ethics and populated with Christian characters. But the story refrains from preaching about the faith, instead letting Christianity inform the characters’ actions. They aren’t saints–Michael least of all–but when the chips are down they strive to do the right thing. They may not always succeed, but in doing so they ennoble themselves and inspire everyone around them.
This moral characterization paints them in stark contrast to the villains of the story. While we don’t see their perspective as often as the protagonists, every time they appear they exude an aura of evil and malice. Everything they do reeks of depravity and corruption. They are the agents of pure, elemental Evil, and with their dark powers they seem nigh-unstoppable.
The heroes are sympathetic and the villains utterly vicious. Through this sharp moral delineation, you can fully appreciate the titanic clash of good versus evil. Every victory is hard-won, every defeat stings, every reveal is believable, every act of valor or kindness both simultaneously in character and edifying.
WAR DEMONS begins as a psychological thriller. A strange creature is stalking Michael, and he must find out what it is and why it’s hunting him. At the same time, he battles his own demons of post-traumatic stress. As the story progresses, the veil is lifted, and what follows is a chain of high-octane action sequences and well-timed revelations that inexorably build up to a climactic finale.
Russell Newquist is a fourth degree black belt in Shin Nagare Karate, an eclectic martial art that combines karate, kickboxing and jujitsu. His martial arts sequences are a beauty to behold. They aren’t just technically accurate; they capture the chaos, tension, and sheer rush of combat. Likewise, the firefights are a slick combination of realism and awesomeness, constantly driving the story onward.
In an industry filled with boring message fiction, ugliness and perversion, WAR DEMONS is a breath of fresh air. For readers who love Jim Butcher and Larry Correia, this novel is a must-read.
If WAR DEMONS sounds like it’s right up your alley, you’re sure to enjoy my Dragon nominated novel NO GODS, ONLY DAIMONS, rated 4.5 stars out of 5 on Amazon.