Two Storm Wood by Philip Gray

Today it is over to Mandie who is sharing her thoughts on Two Storm Wood, the brand new novel by Philip Gray. Our thanks to publisher Vintage for the copy for review. Here’s what it’s all about:

Source: Advance Reader Copy
Release Date: 02 February 2023
Publisher: Vintage

About the Book

1919. On the battlefields of northern France, the guns of the Great War are silent. Special battalions now face the task of gathering up the dead for mass burial.

Amy Vanneck’s fiancé is one soldier lost amongst many. She heads to France, determined to discover what became of the man she loved.

Meanwhile, Captain Mackenzie cannot bring himself to go home until his fallen comrades are laid to rest. His task is upended when a gruesome discovery is made beneath the ruins of a German strongpoint.

It soon becomes clear that what Mackenzie has uncovered is a war crime of inhuman savagery. As the dark truth leaches out, both he and Amy are drawn into the hunt for a psychopath, one for whom the atrocity at Two Storm Wood is not an end, but a beginning.

Mandie’s Thoughts

I love historical fiction but I have not read much that is centred around WWI but the blurb for Two Storm Wood intrigued me as it show a side of the war and its aftermath that we don’t very often read about at all. 

Amy Vanneck travels to France to find out what has happened to her fiancé Captain Edward Haslem who has been listed as missing in action. From letters she establishes where he was last known to be and there she meets Captain James Mackenzie who has been tasked with locating and trying to identify the bodies of the fallen soldiers left behind. From the start you can see that Captain Mackenzie is torn between wanting to help Amy and persuading her to go back to England and away from the horrors that are being uncovered daily. 

There were three timelines in the book, detailing life for Amy and Edward before the war and the challenges they faced due to their differences in backgrounds, Edwards experiences during the war and how his actions and those of his fellow soldiers affected him and then after the war and the search for Edward. Each timeline revealed a little bit more and showed just how brutal combat in that time was. 

I admired Amy and her determination to find out the truth no matter what it was or what it might cost her and I think that Captain Mackenzie shared some of that admiration, he certainly felt the need to protect her from those who on the surface looked like they were on the same side. The brutality of what happened at the place known as Two Storm Wood was not revealed until later in the book and although there were hints I wasn’t prepared for what was revealed. 

Two Storm Wood highlights the stress that soldiers were put under with the unrelenting conditions that tipped some over the edge or had them turning to opioids to get them through to the next day. It is these things that led to the actions of some of the characters who ultimately believed that they were doing the right thing and followed their commanding officers. It does not hide away from the brutality of war nor does it glorify it, but was so compelling a read that I finished it in just over a day as like Amy I needed to know what had happened to Edward and how he was involved in the events at Two Storm Wood.

About the Author

Philip Gray was inspired to write TWO STORM WOOD by his grandfather who fought in the First World War.

He lives in London.

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