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!
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?
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!