Reign of Evil by Weston Ochse is the third paranormal thriller in the SEAL Team 666 series about the military team tasked with handling the world's supernatural threats (available October 7, 2014).
The ground was cold.
The place was empty.
He stood. Stonehenge had the feeling of an old battlefield. Like Chickamauga or Gettysburg, whenever he was at a place where a lot of people had died, it felt different. Reverentially empty.
He suddenly felt cold and shivered. “A lot of people died here,” he said.
“This used to be a ceremonial place for the druids, some say all the way back to two to three thousand years before Christ.”
That's Walker, the FNG in SEAL Team 666, America's only defense against the tangos of the underworld. He's a crack shot with his HK416 and more importantly, he gets the heebie jeebies when near the supernatural, thanks to a horrible event in his past, more horrible even than Hell Week in BUD/S training… he was possessed by a Malaysian grave demon! If like me you're a big fan of the Rogue Warrior books co-authored by former SEAL Commander Dick Marcinko, and of evil beasties gnawing their way into our world and our hearts, the SEAL Team 666 series by Weston Ochse is a welcome diversion, sort of Zero Dark Thirty meets Hellboy: The Golden Army, which is probably how the movie option got pitched at MGM. (I'm told the Rock is attached, and he'd make a great Yank.)
I haven't read the other SEAL Team 666 books by Weston Ochse, but they follow the familiar model of the war pulps: the tough-as-nails leader, the diverse, plucky, yet all-American squad of grunts who have to make do while the brass and the political pukes make their job tougher with bureaucracy, bullheadedness, and plain old BS. This entry in the series has them entirely off American soil as a shadowy group of sorcerers raises the most terrifying force in folklore from the British Isles: The Wild Hunt.
The plot begins at Stonehenge, when a druidic ritual meant to celebrate the coming of winter (yes, Winter is Coming) goes horribly wrong… or does it? Jack Walker's fiancee disappears on holiday, and rules be damned, he HAHO jumps to the U.K. and hooks up with some friendlies to find her. Those include Ian and crew from Section 9, the British version of SEAL Team 666, and a witch named Sassy Moore:
“So something’s returned that the Isles haven’t seen in more than a thousand years. Maybe longer.” She flipped through the book and came to a double-page picture of a woodcut that showed a hunt. On the left was a cart pulled by a team of great stags. To the sides and in front were dogs and misshapen beasts of all sizes caught mid-action. Some were running; some were fighting each other; one even held the body of a baby in its twisted mouth. Standing in the cart with a whip in one hand and a sword in the other was a figure that looked like a demented Santa.
Walker said as much.
“That’s because part of our lovely Yuletide holiday tradition comes from this. Gentlemen, may I present to you the Wild Hunt.”
“The wild what?” Jerry asked, his eyes wide.
Trev punched Jerry in the shoulder. “Hunt. She said ‘hunt.’”
“Glory be. I thought she was describing a date I had last week.”
Ian punched Jerry in his other shoulder.
Ochse is a horror novelist and former soldier, so he's well-suited to writing these novels. The soldier chat and ops all ring true, and Murphy is always there to mess up a perfect plan. And when the Hunt charges through modern London, the results are gut churning:
His mind sought to flee where his body was unable. What was this? Was it a nightmare? If so, he desperately wanted to wake—
They lunged in pairs, grabbing his legs, ripping, tearing, raking teeth along the edges of his femurs. Another beast grabbed his head. He felt a tremendous pressure. His eyes bulged from his face.
Somehow, his gaze locked in on a young woman across the street, red hair, white dress, taking picture after picture with an old Polaroid camera.
Then came a pop.
He didn’t know how he knew, but he knew that he was dead.
For one second he saw everything, knew everything, and understood exactly why he’d been murdered. But then it was sucked away from him and, as if he lived on the end of a whip, he snapped back into an existence he knew all too well.
He ran with the others.
And then came the King.
If you've ever wanted to watch a squad of SEALs mow their way through a Renaissance Faire, this is your chance. Druids and Sidhe faery spirits, hellhounds and homunculi, vile wizards and sword-wielding maniacs are on a mission to redesign the British isles in their own vision, and lead bullets are of little effect against these creatures of eld. It's a fun, bloody, raucous pulp tale that lives up to the name SEAL Team 666, as King Arthur reborn and the Wild Hunt face off against the best the special operations teams have to offer. Sending them crashing through Celtic mythology and the curious and bloody history of the Isles makes for an entertaining read that will still appeal to fans of military fiction. Magic here is even more deadly than an elite fighting force with the latest in tech and deadly weapons…this time SEAL Team 666 may have met their match.
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Thomas Pluck writes unflinching fiction with heart. He is the author of Blade of Dishonor, an action thriller spanning Shogun-era Japan to WWII, and the editor of Protectors: Stories to Benefit PROTECT, an anthology of crime fiction for charity. You can find him on Twitter as @thomaspluck.