Purgatory: Soldiers of Misfortune by Darryl Olsen
Review: Purgatory: Soldiers of Misfortune
Spoiler alert: There’s enough testosterone in the first chapter of the novel to cure ED for a million men. This is not a novel for lovers of slushy romance stories. That said, Purgatory: Soldiers of Misfortune by Darryl Olsen is an action packed fantasy tale with metaphysical overtones that video gamers and thriller movie lovers can sink their teeth into. It is a page turner that can be read in one long sitting. I did it in one day with a few breaks for exercise.
The plot is so well crafted that almost immediately I was caught up in the almost theological question: Is the rag tag group of people actually in purgatory? If not, where are they? Cleverly, I think, Olsen never answers that question and allows the reader to speculate. Wherever they are after their demise in the world as we know it, they are not ethereal beings. They eat, bleed, and are subject to regular bodily functions.
The main characters are solidly drawn and believable, some likeable, and some detestable. When the cast of characters all come together in this land of yellow skies and extreme cold, the leaders of the group are Harry, a British veteran of the Vietnam war who was dying from the effects of agent orange, and Luke, an American soldier who was blown up in Afghanistan. It falls to them to protect the group from the evil Von Ruse, tyrant of the Leviathans, his army, and the Maugs—half human, half beast—intent on devouring human flesh. In the heroic party, though, there are two obnoxious characters—Susan, the vain and self-centered Korean girl, and Craig—the Wall Street whiz kid who thinks he has the answer to everything.
The most mysterious character is Edward who is a 400 year survivor of wherever that place might be. He is something of a cross between Merlin and Shakespeare, with a hint that he actually is the latter. His function is to give advice to Harry and Luke without ever actually telling them what to do.
If the location is Purgatory, Olsen cleverly never confirms that supposition. Would people actually have physical bodies there? Would old German war planes somehow end up there? Could there actually be an old van that Harry and Luke manage to make work have crossed over into this mysterious world? To further cloud the issue Olsen adds the possibility of a time and space portal that may or may not exist. I found myself constantly asking myself those questions as I continued to turn the pages.
In all the action of the novel, Olsen manages to interject some poetic language. I particularly liked the opening line of Chapter Twelve, “Dawn was blushing when Harry awakened to Luke stirring the fire.” Olsen closes the novel with hints of a sequel that include a book written in code supposedly containing information about the “portal,” and a brief radio communication in German, possibly from the pilot of the old war plane they found.
–J Hamilton, author of The Naked Zombie
Olsen, Darryl (2013-07-10). Purgatory : Soldiers of Misfortune (Kindle Location 2687). Strategic Book Publishing and Rights Co.. Kindle Edition.