Of Blood and Brothers

Written by E. Michael Helms
Review by John Manhold

Calvin Hogue, cub reporter at the St. Andrew Pilot in St. Andrew, Florida, is assigned to cover the Malburn family reunion. This dull-sounding assignment turns out to be his ticket to establishing his reputation as a reporter when he turns the assignment into a serial telling the intertwined but very different stories of Elijah and Daniel Malburn, brothers who fought in the American Civil War – one for the North, one for the South. The majority of the book is told in the alternating voices of Elijah and Daniel Malburn, each relating their wartime experiences, broken up with small sections told in Calvin’s voice to give context and to weave the two brothers’ stories together. At first I found the author’s method of having the two brothers telling their stories in their own voices and speech patterns annoying, but soon I got used to it and ultimately I think it enriched the book immensely to have the story told in this war, and it was well worth the effort of getting used to the unusual vernacular. The only complaint I have is that at times the pace of the events is extremely slow, with a large part of the book devoted to only a few days during the Chickamauga battle. Nonetheless, there was enough action to keep the pages turning, and I found myself utterly caught up in the story. This is the first book in a planned series, with the second volume to be published in 2014 – I’m very much looking forward to it.