Sunday, 5 March 2017

Spoils: Brian Van Reet review


By: Brian Van Reet
Rating: 5 Star

Spoils is the debut novel from author Brian Van Reet.

The story is set in the early stages of the Gulf War in 2003. The plot centres around US Specialist Soldier Cassandra Wigheard and her deployment in Iraq. During her deployment, Cassandra is captured by mujahideen fighters and held hostage.

The plot of Spoils explores Cassandra's capture from multiple viewpoints including Cassandra's, her captors including long-term jihadist Abu al-Hool, and the colleagues she left behind who are searching for her.

The main plot timeline focuses on the capture, but Van Reet jumps the narrative around to give the reader more context on life in the military, Cassandra and al-Hool's background before moving forward in time.

Many other reviewers have commented on Van Reet's minimalist, powerful prose. I agree.

The sentences are really sharply crafted; with no spare words, adjectives or fluff, and the plot moves along at a fast pace. Given Van Reet's military service, it is not surprising that the military aspects of the story, (in particular the battle scenes), are vividly described and very powerful.

Given its subject matter, Spoils is by no means a light read and there are scenes in the novel that some may find disturbing but I thought it was a very powerful read. Highly recommended.

I received an advanced copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.