Blue Devil Island
Stephen Mark Rainey
Five-Star Mystery/Thompson Gale
301 pgs, hardcover, 2007, $25.95
Reviewed by Steve Vernon

The crossing of genres is always a tricky procedure, yet certain genres just seem to beg for it. For instance, the crossing of war stories with the horror genre. Perhaps it is because human beings walk so closely to the abyss in the times when war rears its rapacious skull that is all too easy to imagine a military unit sliding directly into the maw of the unknown.

Remember those old weird-war comic books that usually opened up with a front page shot of Old Man Death garbed in the tatters of some military uniform from some period or the other, braced astride a battlefield, looking oddly cheerful. I must confess that I am a sucker for such a tale and in Blue Devil Island, Stephen Mark Rainey lets us have it with both barrels.

It is the autumn of 1943 and the United States military monster has just begun to claw its way up the long and slow island to island slog towards eventual victory in the Pacific Theatre. Just west of the Solomon Islands lies a remote desert island called Conquest, where Lieutenant Commander Drew McLachlan and his Blue Devil fighter squadron soar daily into brutal life or death combat with the forces of the enemy. Yet the Blue Devils are far from alone on this island called Conquest. Dark forces lurk in the mysterious catacombs of Conquest Island.

Try and imagine John Wayne leading the Flying Tigers straight into a toe-to-toe shoot-out with Lovecraftian evil and you’ll be winging somewhere close to the proper wavelength. Five-Star lists Blue Devil Island as a science-fiction thriller, but don’t be fooled. I believe it lies a whole lot closer to the realm of horror.

Whatever the label you care to hang on this book it definitely represents balls to wall combat scenes, spine tingling old school terror and plain big fun. While I was reading this novel I also checked out Rainey’s Amazon 49 cent tale Sky of Thunder, Sky of Blood and the boy sure knows how to fly.

I recommend picking up a copy of this book and then aiming yourself straight at Rainey’s other tales. The fellow hits a bullseye, every time.

Yours in horror,

Steve Vernon

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