Book Review: Come Marching Home by Hazel West

Hullo, friends! A few weeks ago, I brought you the cover reveal for Come Marching Home by Hazel West, and today I have the pleasure of reviewing that book! 

Photo description: Book cover of Come Marching Home – silhouette of a man and a dog in front of a snowy background

Synopsis

After being away for over a year, Alfonse Keller has returned from the trenches on Teuton’s western front, fighting in the war that’s broken out against the Steppes. He should feel relieved now that’s he’s back in his own village in the care of his brother Ernst, but he’s not. It seems like nothing has changed except for him, like he’s a traveler from a different world.

When Alfonse left to join the army, he was a natural magician making a name for himself, but after a tragic incident resulting in the death of his friend, and his own crippling injury, he no longer has the ability to use magic.

Suffering from constant nightmares and revisited trauma, Alfonse can’t get the trenches out of his head. Ernst tries to help, but he doesn’t really understand either. How can he, when Alfonse doesn’t really understand himself? He feels like a phantom, standing on the outskirts of a life he’ll never live again.

As Ernst tries to do everything he can for his brother, he can’t help but feel like Alfonse is slipping away, that maybe part of him never left the trenches at all. But how can he save his brother when Alf refuses to let anyone in?

Blog | Goodreads | Twitter | Instagram | Ko-fi

Amazon

My Review

Man, this book was so good. Usually I’m not a huge fan of books based in war-time, but this book was absolutely beautiful. There were definitely a lot of tear-jerking moments, so when you read this… keep the tissues handy!

To start off with, Hazel does an amazing job developing these characters. I loved that the book focused on the relationship between Alfonse and Ernst. I love reading sibling relationships, and I feel like relationships between brothers aren’t highlighted as much as they could be. Hazel does a great job of developing Alf and Ernst individually while also portraying their relationship realistically. I was rooting for them the whole way!

Since the plot was focused more on the relationships between the characters, the pace was a little slow until the end. While I tend to prefer books with a faster pace, I think the steady pace of this book actually worked better with the message and the tone. 

And maaaan, the feels! My favorite part of this book is all of the awesome relationship-building, gonna-make-you-cry moments that hit you out of nowhere. There were definitely a few times I had to blink away tears. No spoilers, but that continues alllll the way to the end of the book. ❤

There is some minor cursing in this book, along with some references to multiple gods, although the details of their religion aren’t really touched on. This is also set during war-time, so there is a lot of violence and pain, so I would say this book is targeted more towards teenagers and older. 

Overall, I highly recommend this book for anyone who likes reading touching stories!

Have you read Come Marching Home? What did you think? If not, you should definitely go read it! 

Fun Friday? | A Twinepathy Fanfic

I have absolutely NO IDEA (haha, pun!) what to call these posts… so if you have any ideas, please let me know below! And this is also a day late, so apologies for that.

Hullo, friends! Good to see you again! For the first post of my new schedule, I thought I would post a wonderful fanfic written by Merenwen over at Shattered Fractals. This is the first fanfic anyone’s ever written for any of my stories, so it has a special place in my heart… plus, the feels. Enjoy, everyone!

The Finch wandered the park, hoping to distract himself. Why couldn’t he remember anything? It hurt almost as bad as getting hit with a truck. Not that he remembered having any such experience…

“Mathis?” The lightly accented voice sent a shiver through him. He turned. A lady with long hair and a surprised expression timidly approached. She had a death grip on the lapels of her jacket. “Mathis, is that you?”

He blinked. “Yes.”

“Oh, thank goodness! Where have you been?” She rushed up and bear-hugged him.

The Finch just stood there, arms awkwardly by his side. “I’m…I’m sorry, but I don’t remember you.”

The lady drew back but kept her hands on his arms. Her expression varied between cold shock and…was that fear? “Don’t remember me?”

“No, I don’t. What’s your name?”

She took a few steps back, her hand to her mouth. Tears brimmed in her dark eyes. “Oh, oh, oh…”

The Finch wanted to cry himself. “Who are you?”

“I’m, I’m…” She choked, and the tears fell. Through a muffle of emotion, he heard her say, “Eva.”

He held his breath for half a second, hoping. No memories, or even feeling, surfaced. He exhaled his earlier apology.

Eva cleared her throat, laying hand at its base. “You don’t remember me? At all?”

He shook his head. He must have some previous connection to her, though; he wanted to cry with her, hug her, something. “Do you want to talk?”

Eva nodded furiously, pulling her coat tight. She sniffled. “There’s a bench there.”

The Finch instinctively put his arm out. Eva gave a gasping laugh. “At least you’re still you.”

He helped her to the bench and winced. It was so cold. That didn’t seem to bother Eva. She leaned back and glanced at him nervously. “I…I’m not sure where to start…but, I’m your girlfriend.”

The Finch nodded. He could see that, even if he couldn’t remember it.

She relaxed a little bit. “We didn’t do everything together, but quite a few things. Skating, collecting, your usual hobbies…and a few weeks ago, you stopped responding. I was worried sick, literally. My mother had to come over and stay with me for a few days. Then I got a text from you—or your phone, at least—saying to come to the park.”

The Finch put his elbows on his knees. “It wasn’t me who sent the text.” It could’ve been Jen…

He thought. What should he say next?

Eva laid a hand on his arm. “You wouldn’t happen to remember what it was you wanted to tell me before you…vanished?”

He shook his head.

“What happened?”

He half-opened his mouth, then stopped. What could he tell her? IDIA hadn’t told him much, about either the accident or his relations. They had said it was too soon. Then why the text?

“I got into an accident at work.”

“But I checked the hospitals! And how can you get amnesia from unloading produce?!” Eva gripped his arm and gave him a little shake. He must have given her a negative look, because she abruptly let go and hunched over. “Sorry.”

He was going to say, “It’s alright,” but stopped himself. It wasn’t alright. Not at all.

Eva stood. “Maybe it would help if…if we went for a  walk? Where we usually do?”

The Finch rose. He supposedly had the afternoon off. May as well make the best of it. “Yes, please. I’m afraid you’ll have to lead the way.”

Eva looked like she was going to cry again.

The Finch wrapped an arm about her shoulders. “But don’t worry. I should remember soon enough.” He hoped. It was going to kill him if he couldn’t.

Isn’t it adorable??? Please, please check out Merenwen’s blog and also her awesome books! If you have a fanfic, fanart, or anything else related to Twinepathy that you’d like for me to post, let me know down below!