Book – Dead Camp #1
Author – Sean Kerr
Star rating - ★★★★★
No. of Pages – 238
Cover – Nice!
POV – 1st person (with multi-POV)
Would I read it again – Yes
Genre – LGBT, Paranormal, Historical, Religion, Nazi, Angel-Demon
** I WAS GIVEN THIS BOOK, BY eXSTASY BOOKS, IN RETURN FOR AN HONEST REVIEW **
Reviewed for Divine Magazine
WARNINGS: a little bit of gore, on page; implied rape; heartbreak; cheating; historical events that may be upsetting for some readers: Holocaust.
I am stunned. This is the author's DEBUT work and it was enchanting. From the entertainment factor of Mal and Eli bickering like an old married couple, the intensity of the mystery surrounding Eli's past as well as Ethan's father, and the incredible historical detail, there wasn't anything I didn't love about this book.
Oh, and editing? Normally, if a book has less than five notes from me about editing issues, I don't mention them unless they hugely impact my reading. This book had ONE. One tiny little slip of a comma (which are the bane of my existence, so I get it!) and that was it. I never saw anything that could count as a spelling, grammar, editing or plot mistake, slip up or accident. In a debut novel.
When it comes to POV, 1st person has never been a friend of mine. There are few books that actually write it the way that I can read it – which is falling into the story and never having a million unanswered questions about who “I” as the character am supposed to be. Because, the trap with 1st is that it's written where you're supposed to know who you are already, so there's no real introduction.
There was no need for an introduction here. Eli is perfectly clear and brilliant as a main character. Sarcastic, but deeply troubled, he's the quintessential tortured soul, with a difference. He feels sorry for himself, but only rarely; he tries not to let his failings, past or fears distract him and tries not to let anyone else see them, either. His ego is incredible; he's the kind of man who loves himself deeply and isn't ashamed of his vanity. But, at the same time, he uses it as a shield to prevent anyone from seeing the dark side of him. He's far from your typical hero. But, then, maybe he's not a hero? Maybe he's just a regular guy (vampire) who has a job to do?
Similarly, I love Malachi. He's a ghost, but he's hilarious, camp and all the other things Eli claims he is. Utilizing some seriously eloquent snark and unabashed campness, the pair together are a riot, but Malachi himself is just so adorable. I spent half the book shipping Maleli and the other half shipping Elian. Now I can't decide what I want or if I really want Gideli back. (Not that I ever saw the together, to begin with, but you know what I mean.)
The way the POV was used – primarily in Eli's 1st person, but also with extracts of Ethan, Daniyyel's POV and diary entries for Isaiah, Ethan's day – meant that we got to find out all the important things, as and when we needed to know them. Eli wasn't there for the big events, but through the eyes of other people's memories and accounts – told in 1st person, which is much less draining and less complicated than having a long explanation from them during a conversation – we get to experience them with all our senses, to make sure we don't miss the important details.
Ethan is an enigma. I know there's a big secret in his past – as there is for all the main characters, Malachi and Eli alike – but I can't wait to see how it will be discovered. Knowing that all three have huge secrets, but that Ethan is the only one opening up about his past so far, would normally have me desperate for information. But, I'm enjoying the journey and the way that the secrets are revealed too much to demand that they're spilled in a quick, unsatisfactory manner. I want to juice, the detail, the gore and the excitement. So I'll patiently wait.
For me, the genius of this book is in it's detail. From characterisation – slowly explored, with hints and suggestions or more, as well as all the characters being nicely transparent or confusing as hell – to the detail of the locations, the historical facts, the emotions and the way that the characters all interact with each other. Not only is there a lot in this book, but it all comes together seamlessly, because of the detail binding it all together in a believable way. Characters like Eddie, Vicky and Adi were an interesting twist, allowing us readers to ponder and wonder, only for the big secret to be revealed when it was all beginning to come together.
The story covers a lot of historical incidents – Queen Victoria, her grandson Prince Albert Victor, Jack the Ripper, Nazis, Jeiwsh Concentration Camps, Adolf Hitler – but it never once feels disjointed, ridiculous or fanciful. The way the events are linked, how and the way they're interlinked is the interesting part. And the bit that is so clever.
And let's not forget the most important player of all – The Devil, AKA Melek.
For me, there was so much depth to this story that I can't believe it was contained within less than 250 pages.
It tackles some seriously hardcore issues – there is nothing light and fluffy about it. With a strong theme of the Nazis and Hitler's prejudice against the Jewish people, told through Ethan's story, and historical events that Eli has personal experience of – Jack the Ripper and Queen Victoria's reign – intense, upsetting historical crimes are explored in a way that is readable, but has the emotional impact of reverence towards the subject. Adding in Eli and Mal's naturally humour natures, these events offer a darker side to their lives and shows the horrors they've endured or are yet to endure.
Beneath the intensity, is a beautifully explored journey of self-discovery, themes of resilience and love in the face of adversity and the overwhelming need to see these characters rise from the ashes that other people have made of their lives. Somewhere along the way, I know hearts are going to be broken, but then again, this isn't the type of book (series) where everyone will get their happily ever after. It's more realistic than that.
When I read this part of the author's biography, I just knew that it was perfect. Basically, this one sentence can describe me to a tee. “My fascination with History, Religion and Conspiracy theories have, in this instance, gone hand-in-hand with my love of all things vampire, fantasy, sci-fi and horror.” Me too, Sean. Your books and I are going to be spending a lot of time together in the future.
All I can say is bravo. Bravo, Sean. You're onto a winner and I can't wait to see what else you write. Whatever it is, I'll be waiting with impatient grabby hands to get my copy.
“I was Atlas, carrying the agonies of the world.”
“I had an angel in my dining room and a German soldier in my dungeon, and to top things off, I lived with a ghost.”
“I went back to that forest to find some books, but he would have me leave a freedom fighter.”