Bottom Line Up Front (BLUF):
Just to make it clear – Russell runs Urban-Fantasy.com and Silver Empire. He’s a friend and I HATE writing about friend’s books, but he asked for it. (There may have been a martial arts showdown involved.)
War Demons is a solid Urban Fantasy. If you expect a hero, some monsters, and a lot of guns; you can’t go wrong. The story follows a veteran back from Afghanistan who’s starting college down in Georgia. He experiences the terrors of, PTSD, crazy relatives, college classes…oh, and zombies.
Seriously, the action is solid from the first chapter. The primary monster is inventive, horrible, and fantastic. I was very impressed. Finally, as I would expect from the author, the fighting scenes are realistically written. This is the first book of his series and I recommend it strongly.
War Demons, The Positives:
The first chapter sets up our protagonist Michael. He’s a veteran, and he suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD) from his action in Afghanistan. This is handled well and I really enjoyed the character. I’m familiar with PTSD, the drinking, the suicide, and the anger issues. The character was well realized and I hope the author continues exploring his darker side.
Michael’s religion is also well explored. He’s Catholic and I’m not, so I can’t say that he’s dead-on about practicing Catholics, but it tracks well enough with my Southern Baptist upbringing for me to understand his motivations.
The fight scenes, especially those favoring martial arts, were well-written. I’m a nit-pick on martial arts, and I expect a ton out of the author because of his skills. I wasn’t disappointed. He didn’t spend a lot of time describing fights, probably because he knew a normal person would get bored with too much detail, but what was in the book was good.
Most of the other characters were fairly thin. I understand that this novel moved fast and didn’t want to spend too much time developing character arcs that could wait for other novels, so I wasn’t surprised. I think Michael got ‘on mission’ pretty quickly, maybe too quickly. I felt his flaws should have held him back more, but you feel pretty good about his development.
Lastly, the problem with zombies is too many zombies. One zombie is frightening, but a gazillion zombies are kind of monotonous. It was a bit of a slog near the end, but a good resolution. I think the mood changes somewhat between the first, horrible, monster and the later team combat. Both are good. I somewhat preferred the intense and horrific elements. Others might prefer the ‘Monster Hunter’- esque shoot-em-up elements.
War Demons is a good novel. It has some excellent horror elements, especially in the first half. It has a lot of good fighting fun throughout. The protagonist definitely keeps you interested. I’d definitely recommend it and I give it a solid four stars.