Soldiers in the Mist
R.H. Burkett’s story of war, love and redemption was not at all the book I was expecting. Soldiers in the Mist is a reissue of a book originally published in 2011 and the storyline is what I can only describe as convoluted and pretentious.
The book opens with the author herself, Ruth Weeks Burkett, being visited by the ghost of her ancestor Charles Ely. His ghost and those of his fellow soldiers have existed in limbo ever since their deaths during the Civil War and they need Ruth’s help to find eternal rest. Charles believes that only if their story is told will their spirits move on so Ruth takes on the task to commune with the spirits. She records everything about their lives before and after the nation was divided and how the tragic war affected their families forever.
What follows is a strange historical account of how Charles was drawn into the Confederate army under pressure by his closest friends and the guilt he carried with him on the battlefield for leaving his widowed mother behind. His journey moves the reader through all the horrible costs of the Civil War on the Southern way of life and how the soldiers themselves sacrificed too much for an ideal of a Confederate States of America that was doomed upon inception.
Along the way we are reminded that the author herself is just as important to the story, being the means by which each ghost can reveal their regrets or triumphs before passing on. It’s a strange way of framing the narrative because Ruth Weeks is committed to the “reality” that the ghosts were visiting her and guiding her pen. She needlessly makes herself into a main character of a story that was more compelling as a historical fiction than a ghost story with a gimmick.