The Secret War by M.F.W. Curran is a combination of historical fiction and urban fantasy set at the end of the Napoleonic wars. The background of the book draws heavily on real places and political events from that era and I really enjoyed the sense of realism that these elements lend to the story.
William Saxon and his all-but-adopted-brother Kieran Harte are thrust into the world of supernatural conflict when they are attacked by a monster shortly after the battle of Waterloo. After doing their best to destroy this monster, their lives are drawn inevitably into the ongoing conflict between good and evil. Their families and lives are threatened and their only way out is to embark on a journey into the heart of a secret militant Order that fights evil on behalf of the Roman Catholic Church.
There are several things that I really liked about The Secret War. First, Curran writes characters that make sense in the context of the story. A British Officer wouldn’t behave like a typical Indiana Jones type of adventurer, after all. Second, the combat scenes are well done for the most part. Again, Curran does a good job of sticking with what makes sense for the period that he is writing in. Finally, the depiction of the servants of evil and their motivations is wonderful. The “why” behind villains’ despicable acts is something that is often overlooked.
The Secret War is a solid book. It’s not going to appeal to every reader of urban fantasy because of its historical setting, but for those of us who like both urban fantasy and historical fiction, it’s wonderful. While the story doesn’t exactly fly by, it is fun, interesting and a good blend of genres.