Title: The War at the End of the World
Authors: Heidi Belleau and Violetta Vane
Genre: Historical, Paranormal
URL: Storm Moon Press
Summary [from the publisher]:
War correspondent Joseph Byrne has been cheating death all his life, ever since he spent two years in an iron lung as a boy diagnosed with polio. In the years since, the Fetch, a strange being charged by Death with collecting Joseph and transporting him into the unknown, has been condemned to watch and wait.
Now, with Joseph working in a Finland caught in a tug of war between Nazi and Soviet forces, it seems a foregone conclusion that the Fetch’s sentence is at its end and Death will have Joseph for her own at last. Joseph, an openly Jewish American, has no doubt where his allegiance lies, no matter the danger. But after all these years at Joseph’s side, watching him overcome adversity to grow into a brave and principled young man, the Fetch has come to realize that there are forces stronger and so much sweeter than even the purpose you were made for.
Having read Hawaiian Gothic, I knew that this short paranormal story would be unusual, unique and full of the unexpected. Joseph is a wartime journalist covering events that occurred in Finland after the Winter War, when Finland lost nearly 10% of its territory to Russia. Because Finland lacked materials, resources and support during WW2, it formed an alliance with Nazi Germany. When it was obvious that Germany was going to lose the war, Finland distanced itself from Germany and remained a neutral independent nation. This is a period I don’t know much about. Heidi Belleau and Violetta Vane have done an amazing job bringing this period to life with vibrant characters and rich historical details, making me dig a little more into Finland’s past.
Joseph has had several brushes with death, starting with a bout of polio in childhood. The fetch whose duty it is to bring Joseph to death is unable to do so and instead is accompanying him on his life journey while his feelings for Joseph grow deeper.
I loved the flashback to Joseph’s childhood, the hardships he endured in Finland, and the brief period during the 1960’s. This was a lovely story that left me just a little sad and a little unsettled, even though it ended happily.
I also loved how this story wended its way into my subconscious and made me have odd dreams about people gone from my life that I loved, hated, or both, and the fetch who reminded me I was getting old and needed to spend time with them before he takes me.