Title: The Spirits of Al Faw
Author: Francisco A Ojeda
Date of Publication: 15 June 2017
Simple yet sophisticated is the writing style of Ojeda’s The Spirits of Al Faw. Opening at the Baghdad International Airport, the novel recounts innumerable experiences in the working career of Master Sergeant Deveroe, the operations sergeant for a military intelligence battalion deployed in Iraq in 2006.
Looking at the Iraqi sky, he recalls his time in war torn Kuwait and the smell of burned ash, charcoal and diesel that spread through the air adding to the excessively hot climate. From the very first word of the first page, the eye for detail in The Spirits of Al Faw is incredible. Every tiny bit mentioned adds to building the scenes as well as the plot. The plot moves at a smooth and moderate pace. Reflective of Ojeda’s personal experiences, the book brings out the deeper conscience and understanding of someone who’s seen things closely.
Though written in the form of a fiction, it is the mark of personal experiences that adds to creating a real and believable atmosphere in which nothing seems out of place or proportion. Ojeda’s writing style also includes a knack for including only that which is necessary making the plot free of over cramming. It is a brilliant insight into the difficult lives of military personnel who trade personal comfort and safety for causes in favor of national security. Instances of camaraderie, personal individual issues and team work are emotionally moving but not overly sentimental. Ojeda maintains a resistance to over dramatizing things which helps to keep up the balance between the plot line and the multiple climaxes. As a result, the novel feels very much like a spine chilling thriller. Though not hurt in the ambush that Deveroe suffered, it is his desire to return to combat with his unit. It is this decision that proves to be life changing and life threatening for Deveroe. What follows are thrills unmanageable and conspiracies of superlative standards in this happening novel that takes its readers to the heart of some of the worst political crises involving the mystic, mysterious and magestic lands of the Middle East.
The information regarding fighter planes, tanks, trucks and other equipment is very interesting. Opposed to this is an officer’s devotion and dedication at stake in this thrilling and equally chilling novel of new perspectives that is bound to pin the reader down from the start. The multiple climaxes keep readers engaged but each flows into the other with ease so it is not too hard to digest or too sudden to comprehend. Climax after climax, the story only seems to get denser and more adventurous.
However, set at 426 pages, the book is quite lengthy and time consuming to read. The various plot twists make for a challenging read. The book does not have any chapter divisions and is written in a single go. Those who do not enjoy political thrillers or war fiction will have a hard time getting through the bulk of practical and scientific information. That is not to deny that it is an exciting comprehension of a world about which little is known. Ojeda’s writing style is his strong point and through it he is able to create miracles on paper that assuredly should not bore the regular reader. Also, the addition of a supernatural angle to the plot in the form of mental disturbances or hallucinations to the protagonist is a unique twist including other episodes of insurgency and wild animal attacks. Sadly, the book cover needs more work and is too plain in comparison to the contents of the story.