Review: Dwelling by Thomas S. Flowers

Book Description:

A group of inseparable childhood friends are now adults, physically and psychologically devastated by war… 

A horrifying creature emerges from a sandstorm just before Ricky Smith dies in battle. Forced to leave base housing, his widow Maggie buys a home on Oak Lee Road in the town of Jotham. Maggie is isolated in the historic house…and disconcerted by strange clicking sounds inside the walls. 

Jonathan Steele attempts to drink the painful past away… 

Jonathan was wounded in that fateful battle and now suffers from PTSD. He wants to put the nightmare behind him, but when Ricky’s ghost appears with cryptic warnings about Maggie’s house, he begins to question his sanity. 

Bobby Weeks is a homeless veteran struggling with a lycanthropic curse… 

Afraid of bringing harm, Bobby stays far away from those he loves. But after a full moon, a mysterious woman approaches him and reveals a vision about a house with a sinister presence, and he realizes staying away might no longer be an option. 

Minister Jake Williams lost his faith on the battlefield… 

While Jake will do anything to reconnect with God, he turns to vices to fill the religious void. But a church elder urges him to take a sabbatical, and a ghost tells him to quit the ministry, and his life is more out of control than ever. 

When Maggie wakes in a strange subterranean cavern, she can’t deny her home harbors dark secrets. Desperate, she sends letters to her old friends to reunite in Jotham, and events conspire to draw them all to the house…unaware of the danger awaiting them. 

The friends have already been through hell, but can any of them survive the evil dwelling beneath the House on Oak Lee?

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I’m going to start this review by telling you that reading a military fiction novel written by someone who was actually in the military and saw battle is a completely different experience to reading a book by an author who thinks he’s done enough research to pull it off. Yes, some of the latter are great books, but Dwelling really brought home the terror and heartbreak of war. It touches on everything from the bond soldiers form to how those who have returned home with injuries, both physical and mental, are treated by civilians. I can say that the military portions of this novel were just as interesting and emotional as the horror contained within, and I’m usually not a fan of military fiction. This portion of the book was well thought out and didn’t hold back when it comes to telling it how it is. As a civilian, it opened my eyes.

That said, each character in this book comes back from war damaged in one way or another. Jonathan watches his best friend, Ricky, die in an attack in Iraq, losing a leg in the same attack. Bobby returns with a werewolf curse (I didn’t see that coming) and Jake is a minister who loses his faith due to his experiences. Each man must deal with his demons in his own way. While trying to find his way back to God, Jake indulges in women and alcohol and Jonathan and Bobby drink to forget. The characters in this book are extremely complex and you can’t help but connect to each one in a different way.

As for the horror element in Dwelling, it starts off subtle at first and steadily builds throughout the book. Bobby is learning what he is and wants to know why it happened and how he can control it. Jonathan and Jake see “ghosts.” They all have to figure out if what they’re experiencing is real or if it’s just a manifestation of their PTSD. Then we have Maggie, Ricky’s widow who is being kicked out of base housing and must find another place for her and her dog, Moxie, to live. She sees an ad on TV for a Realtor selling a large home in another part of Texas and packs up all her stuff with the intention of buying the house she saw on the commercial. Problem is, everyone associated with the house is killing themselves.

I’ll be honest. This isn’t my first Thomas Flowers book and the first one I read left me less than impressed. However, Dwelling completely sucked me in, making me care about each of the characters, and I was a little pissed that it ended where it did. I’ll certainly be picking up part 2 of the series.

In summary, if you like military fiction, historical fiction, great characterization, and a tightly woven plot with a creepy vibe, I think you’ll love Dwelling.

 

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