A Song for No Man’s Land is the first novella of a trilogy. The tale is told in limited 3rd person POV between a few characters and also has some 1st person diary entries that are interspersed throughout.
The novel is set in 20th century Europe during the Great War (WWI). The story takes place both in the United Kingdom itself as well as the Battle of the Somme in France. The author succeeds in making the WWI setting feel both authentic and gritty, detailing the hardships of a soldier on the front lines. Trench warfare is brutal, horrific, and few escape without injury. Andy Remic does an excellent job of reminding readers with the setting that war is not as romantic as it is made out to be.
There are three primary characters throughout this novella. The main character is Robert Jones, a drunkard, and gambler whose rescued from violent debtors by Charlie Bainbridge. Bainbridge gets Jones to enlist in the Great War, and together they forge a brotherly friendship. Later in the story, they are joined by George Webb, a childhood friend of Jones who also begins to share POV time.
After being rescued from debtors and enlisting with Bainbridge, Jones learns firsthand the horrors of war. In the battle of Somme, the casualties are great, and Jones himself gets wounded. Plagued by nightmares and memories of his childhood, Jones begins to see that not all of his enemies are human. Nightmarish demons hunt him and things that shouldn’t be possible begin to alter the way Jones and his friends will see reality.
I’ve never read a WWI fantasy themed story before. This novella doesn’t seek to be overtly fantasy at first, and throughout the elements introduced are blended well within the realm of what we would consider normal. Dreams and reality mix a little at times, and it isn’t always immediately apparent if the main character Jones is dreaming, which was an interesting twist in style. The author tried hard, and succeeds, at creating an authentic feeling WWI setting with characters whose brotherhood created a stable attachment with me.
As the nightmarish creatures and background story was introduced, I enjoyed the way the author chose to make the creatures mysterious, and there’s never really a point in the novella when someone sits down with the main POV and explains it all. It was left open, and as there are more entries in this trilogy, I am eager to see what else Jones will have to face and what exactly these nightmarish creatures are. I also enjoyed the author’s choice of creating 1st person POV diary entries with Jones to better dive into his thoughts and feelings. A Song for No Man’s Land was a great novella, and I definitely would recommend it.
About the Author: Andy Remic lives in Lincoln, UK, although his heart and viking soul belong to the Scottish mountains. Married with two children, Andy has a variety of esoteric and sometimes contrasting loves, including sword fighting, climbing, mountain biking, kick-boxing, Ducati motorcycles and retro-gaming. He recently wrote the computer version of his novel Biohell for the 48K Spectrum, in which many people are still stuck. He writes in both SF and fantasy fields, and is sometimes accused of literature. Current novels include: Spiral, Quake, Warhead, War Machine, Biohell, Hardcore and the upcoming Cloneworld, Theme Planet and TOX for Solaris Books, and the Kell’s Legend trilogy, Kell’s Legend, Soul Stealers and Vampire Warlords for Angry Robot Books.