Review: Unholy Warrior
Published By: Amazon / Ingram Spark
Release Date: December 14, 2020
Trigger warnings appropriate for this book: Torture, brutality, gruesome death, slavery, sexual assault. I won’t detail out these things in this review but knowing these things are present should guide whether you want to weather the storm of what unfurls in the novel.
Nuclear war plunged them into perpetual winter. The survivors must rely on their wits and courage. Beware—you never know who wants to stab you in the back.
If you’re a fan of Snowpiercer or the Mad Max movies, you’ll love this post-apocalyptic survival story with fierce females taking the lead. Plenty of action!
Twenty-five years after the nuclear war, the world is still a harsh, frozen place. Second Lieutenant Rebane Nordstrom, a sniper in the ranks of a Russian elite reconnaissance unit, doesn’t know how to give up…ever. After someone assassinates the president of the European Union, the EU forces capture her and her lover. He soon disappears, but Rebane has no time for grief. She faces her worst nightmare in the form of Major Weisser, a man who commands the European Union counter-intelligence with an iron fist.
Thrust into a world ruled by torture, and constant fear, the battered, weakened Rebane knows her only chance of survival is to escape from the fortress that holds her captive. Faced with certain death, she becomes an unstoppable force and escapes the womb of hell. But her battle is far from over. A race across the post-apocalyptic badlands starts, but the man hunting her is a force of nature. Weisser destroys everything in his path. Can the Invisible Zone—the furthest corner of sub-zero Scandinavia—wipe out Rebane’s footprints in the snow?
No woman is an island, not even one as capable as Rebane. She saves a teenager named Liva, and an alliance forms between the desperate women from the opposite sides of the conflict. As the Russian Federation and the European Union head toward the final battle for diminishing resources, Liva proves to have aces up her sleeve.
Spirit animals and ancient Nordic deities have their role in the surprise outcome of this spy thriller. Where arctic weather wipes out armies, heeding an omen can spare your life.
Studio HnH Review:
Unholy Warrior is quite a ride. Rebane is a compelling main protagonist that isn’t without her flaws. I wasn’t sure why she felt loyal to the Russian Federation, considering the real world history of resistance between Finland and the Soviet Union. Even more timely is reading a book where nuclear world war has happened, irradiating the Baltic nations, leaving the US backed European Union and the Russian Federation the only national actors left standing. There were numerous little details that I appreciated as a military person that showed the author’s interest and research in writing a story about spies and snipers that usually get overlooked – like use of a spotter, SERE training, the threat of a drone, and the use of the skies as a method of fighting in arctic conditions.
There is explicit violence in this book but it’s all detailed in a way that doesn’t glorify or justify why it happens. It feels uncomfortable and it should. As awful as these specific actions and violence are, it’s a tragic reality of what has happened in previous wars and in other parts of the world. These specific trauma tropes are often used as misguided attempts at character development but in Unholy Warrior, it feels tempered as visceral as such scenes are.
Rebane faith as a Sami is present but it isn’t used as a crutch or deux ex machina for saving her from danger. There are prayers, but it is a touch of luck and a lot of tactical planning that gets Rebane through her trials. The Finnish pantheon is not one often portrayed in media and it’s refreshing to see it here.
Unholy Warrior doesn’t conclude so much as it stops leading towards the sequel. It’s gritty, visceral, action packed with a touch of the spiritual. Rebane Nordstrom is a new voice in the Post-Apocalyptic Thriller genre and I look forward to reading more about her struggles against the Union and the Federation.
Disclosure: I received an ARC Copy of this book through Reedsy Discovery in exchange for a review.