O.P.#7 – Horrors of War by Adam Fenner is a military themed horror novel based in Afghanistan. His experience in the military is evident in his style and especially the details that go into making the story realistic. His personal experience adds more depth into personal situations, which may have been hard for an inexperienced writer on the subject. Writing about a military setting and keeping the attention of the reader are elements that don’t always walk hand in hand, but Fenner held a nice balance throughout the story. This is definitely one of the reasons why the book is worth reading.
The first chapter opens with a crew of 10 soldiers, known as the Reapers, on their way to replace the previous company that occupied the combat outpost called Najil. Everything is bizarre about the outpost, but the true bizarre element is all the casualties the previous company had taken even though they hadn’t seen combat for the 6 months since they were there.
Although Fenner introduces a strong cast, he places more emphasis on two specific people, namely Sgt. Stone and Ulrich. As they lead the platoon to secure more ground and “build up relations” they quickly discover why the former marines, or at least those that survived, looked the way they did before they left. They also realize that the enemy they have to fight doesn’t fear their military weapons as the platoon gets picked off one by one in classic horror fashion.
Fenner isn’t really in a rush to present the evil that awaits Stone and his men. He prefers to build his characters and sell the scenery first. There are some strange events that occur, but they disappear as quickly as they appear. Just like the characters in the story, the reader will notice, but won’t pay too much attention until they become more substantial and lethal. In fact, the characters are dumbfounded for a great deal of the book, but this is where Fenner’s experience comes in.
A marine is wired with logical situations and arguments, which is why the excitement of the book is enhanced. Fenner knows how an experienced marine would approach the situation and he uses it to create more controversy. He also likes to implement “dream state” moments where the characters wake up to find they still have all their limbs. This technique keeps readers on the edge of their seats, but he may have used it just a little too much.
One of the most interesting aspects of the book is the fact that the characters are trained to fight. Where typical horror stories prefer embracing characters who tend to be weaker and not exactly fighting material, this story is filled with people who know how to fight and handle fear.
Fenner is very casual in his graphic descriptions and readers partial to animals will definitely find themselves a little unnerved at moments. He also doesn’t spare the imagination any gruesome details making the overall progression of the characters very good. The military nature of the story makes it a fresh read and less predictable than a more typical approached horror novel, howeverr experience horror readers will find a couple obvious twists and turns.
Reviewed by Damnetha Jules
Damnetha is a staff writer, horror book and movie critic.
Also by Adam Fenner: