Saturday, August 4, 2007

Finished: "Blue Devil Island" by Stephen Mark Rainey

Finished: Blue Devil Island by Stephen Mark Rainey, 2007, 9781594144424

Pretty decent. Blue is a mix of an historical war novel and horror novel.

Set on fictional Conquest Island in the Solomon Islands in 1943. Seabees have just built an airstrip and quonset huts on uninhabited and mountainous Conquest Island for a U.S. Navy squadron of Hellcat fighter planes. The squadron is on their first combat assignment and led by experienced pilot Drew McLachlan who is narrating the story 50 years later as one of the last two survivors of the island.

Flying daily missions in support of infantry campaigns, the squadron starts racking up victories against Japanese ground targets, bombers and fighters. Back at the base things are not looking so good. There is a weird threatening aura around the island and distant drumming and a bizarre high pitched screech after a Japanese bombing run unnerves the pilots and the Marines of the ground crew.

As the squadron takes on air casualties the ground crew starts getting killed by local humanoid creatures. The short, copper skinned dudes have long, sharp claws and thick, bony skulls. Aggressive and violent, the creatures are theorized as a separate evolution from humans serving the supernatural being who inhabits the island and has been appearing in Drew's dreams. The pilots end up fighting on two fronts: against the Japanese in the air, and the creatures and "spirit" on the ground.

The novel is a neat look at WWII from a pilot's perspective with various conversations and descriptions of flying, air combat, and aircraft that are interesting. The terror side of the story is good too. But, I have not read any horror novels in a while and had to suspend a bit more disbelief than usual.

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