Wednesday, September 3, 2014

{Review} OF BLOOD AND BROTHERS: BOOK TWO by E. Michael Helms

ISBN #: 978-1938467509
Page Count: 274
Copyright: March 1, 2014
Publisher: Koehler Books

(Taken from back cover)

Following the unexpected death of his father, reporter Calvin Hogue is eager to resume writing his weekly serial featuring Daniel and Elijah Malburn, brothers who fought for opposing armies during the Civil War some six decades ago.

After its resounding victory at Chickamauga and subsequent defeat at Lookout Mountain/Missionary Ridge, the Confederate Army of Tennessee has fallen back to winter quarters at Dalton, Georgia. Spring arrives, and with it come thousands of fresh Union troops to reinforce the armies under the command of General William T. Sherman. Soon the Federals launch a relentless offensive against the greatly outnumbered Confederate army, determined to take the vital railhead at Atlanta.

The Confederates make the first of many valiant stands at Resaca, but are flanked and forced to retreat toward Atlanta. During a fierce battle near the small town of Dallas, Daniel suffers a severe head wound. His "pards" report he's been killed, but he comes to and is captured. Sent north to Rock Island Prison, Daniel faces a new war--surviving the harsh conditions and cruelties to which the Southern captives are subjected.

After unwillingly leading Union forces on a raid through the Econfina Valley, the Malburns' lifelong home, Elijah learns the Federals' next objective is to capture the Florida capital of Tallahassee. The Confederates confront the invaders south of the city at Natural Bridge, and after a vicious battle win a striking victory. Elijah survives the fight, but he's had enough of a war he wanted no part of. With Union forces scattering in disarray, he and beloved family slave Jefferson desert and set out for home.

The South finally surrenders, but the peace is far from won. Freed from prison, an expectant Daniel faces an arduous, year-long trek home only to find his dreams shattered and his world forever changed.

Trouble stalks the Malburns in post-war Florida. Amid the violent days of Reconstruction, Daniel and Elijah face continuing conflict, family turmoil and heart-wrenching tragedy as they struggle toward a hard-earned and costly reconciliation.

Charlene's Review:

In Book Two, Reporter, Calvin Hogue, continues his interview of Elijah and Daniel Malburn, brothers that fought on opposite sides of the Civil War. While Daniel willingly joined the Confederate Army, Elijah was forced to join the North, or be a prisoner of war. When his friend and slave, Jefferson was also captured, Elijah chose to fight along side him, and help bring him home safe.

As the war comes to a conclusion, Daniel is injured and left for dead, eventually ending up in a prison camp. Elijah and Jefferson desert the war and head home. Neither brother has any idea of what awaits them at the end of the War, or at home.

Having read Book One and Two, I have a deep familiarity with the Malburn brothers. Mr. Helms takes great pain in leading the reader not only into the story, but into the very mind set of the character. I did not feel I was reading a book, but standing alongside as the story unfolded.

Having been a combat veteran, I’m sure Mr. Helms has some insight into the emotions that rage through a mind at war. Combining that with vivid descriptions of another time, this is historical fiction at its finest. Being a "Yank", I have never heard the Civil War depicted in quite this way, and it left me with a true appreciation for the South’s way of interpreting the War, and portrayed the true history and sentiment of the time period.

Mr. Helms combines his passion for war stories with artfully portrayed relationships of genuine, flawed people. The Malburn brothers will stay with me for quite some time. This is surely a heartfelt piece of writing, and it shows in the finished novel. Not typically my genre, I highly recommend this, and Book One, as it is far above and beyond any historical fiction I have previously read.

5 out of 5 stars!

*A physical copy of this novel was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

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