Review: SHILOH: A Novella of the Civil War by Philip Fracassi

Rating: 8.5/10

Synopsis

“The ground had opened up and spit out hell and the detritus was Shiloh.”

For two days in the year 1862, the bloodiest battle of the American Civil War held theatre in southern Tennessee – a patch of land called Shiloh. Thousands of soldiers on both sides of the conflict lost their lives, and tens of thousands more were badly injured. For twin brothers Henry and William, infantry soldiers in the Confederate Army, the battle held more than the horrors of war, it was a portal to something beyond mankind, where the spilling of blood brings not only death, but eternal damnation.

Review

SHILOH is tenebrous, horrifying and downright captivating. Take the horror of the bloodiest battle in the American Civil War and double down with Fracassi’s imagination.

For those of you who do not know, here is a little history lesson. The Battle of Shiloh, aka the Battle of Pittsburg Landing, took place between April 6 & April 7, 1862. It was one of the major early battles of the American Civil War. The battle began when the Confederate Army launched a surprise attack on Union forces under Ulysses S. Grant.

So, Fracassi took this premise and spun it with his own flavoring. While war itself is hell, literal hell is waiting just on the other side of the battlefield. While a storm musketry and artillery rains down, something else waits among the dead and wounded. Though the reader isn’t quite sure if these are just visions due to the stress of war or simply paranoia, it feeds into the shear horror that war plays on the mind and soul.

The opening chapter may be one of the most thrilling, gritty, and fast-paced scenes I’ve ever read, likened to that of the opening scene of ‘Snakewood’ by Adrian Selby. There is no chance to catch a breath while munitions are shredding through the landscape, soldiers are being punched through with bayonets, and bodies begin to pile up on either side. This may be a short novella, but it is NOT short on action.

Adding Padgett’s narration gave the novella more of an immersive experience and really helped bring the whole thing to life. I’d kill for a live-action version of the story but I’ll settle for imagining it through Fracassi’s vivid descriptions.

Definite recommend (as of writing this, it is only $2.99 on Kindle and like $5 more if you want to add the audio). You do NOT have to be a history buff to enjoy this one.

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