Storm Coming

A Novel of the Civil War in Western Virginia

Fiction - Historical - Event/Era
384 Pages
Reviewed on 07/21/2017
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Author Biography

Jack W. Lewis has had a forty-year career as a U.S. Coast Guard officer and a consulting marine engineer. He received his engineering degrees at the United States Coast Guard Academy and MIT. Throughout his adult lifetime, he has maintained a strong interest in Civil War history. His many writings have covered both engineering and historical topics. This is his first novel.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Ray Simmons for Readers' Favorite

I have always known that there is a state named Virginia, and a state named West Virginia. But in all my reading of American history, even Civil War history, I had never found out when this happened or even why it happened. Now I know. Storm Coming by Jack W. Lewis and Carol S. Lewis is a novel of the Civil War in western Virginia. I never realized how much of that story took place before Fort Sumter. Some of my favorite general officers from that war are featured here, including Stonewall Jackson. The history is told from the angle of big events and smaller, more personal happenings. I think this is what makes Storm Coming such a great book.

The looming Civil War is always on everyone’s mind in this well written novel, but authors Jack and Carol Lewis are also good at telling the story of everyday life too. Wars come and go, but boys fall in love with girls and want to marry them, whether there is a war coming or not. Alexander Swaney is no exception. I like this character. I believe he is typical of the honest young men of his time. All the characters are done well in Storm Coming, and the plot is taken right out of a real situation in history. Perhaps this is why Storm Coming is such a great read. It is based on true events and real people. That adds a certain power to the story. If you are a Civil War buff, you definitely don’t want to miss this one.

Liz Konkel

Storm Coming by Jack W. Lewis is the first book in a Civil War trilogy based on the true story of Private Alexander J. Swaney. In 1861, AJ lives on a farm with his family, trying to muster the courage to tell the girl next door that he loves her. When his shady cousin and rival, Tip, arrives for a visit, AJ is devastated to see that Sophia may prefer Tip's company. Talk of war sends AJ away from home to join the fight in Virginia where he must rely on a young pastor, Harry Hagans, a new friend, Oliver, and his horse, Shiloh. Torn between home and duty, AJ learns some dark secrets as he trains for the approaching war.

Jack W. Lewis immerses you in the past, following AJ's life as a private and his family life. Despite the story being set in the 1800s, AJ is easy to connect with, well-rounded and grounded. The story balanced out his character by showing him as both a soldier and a son/brother. There is a little bit of a love story as AJ pines after Sophia who lives next door, but it's more in the background. Of the relationships in AJ's life, two stood out most: Oliver, and Shiloh, the horse. Oliver fills a surrogate little brother role to AJ, described as being very young, innocent, and even adopts a stray kitten. The connection AJ has with Shiloh is so sweet and it's a constant friendship that he has from home to Virginia. Storm Coming is emotional and in depth, reliving and honoring Alexander Swaney's life in a story of loss, friendship, family, belief, and courage. This is perfect for those who love historical novels!

Samantha Dewitt (Rivera)

There seems to be a war brewing in AJ’s backyard and he’s not entirely sure what to do about it. Where just a short time ago his only concern was getting the planting done and finding a way to broach the subject of marriage with the beautiful young woman next door, he’s now struggling to understand what to do if (and when) war breaks out. But AJ isn’t the only one uncertain what to do or how to proceed. General Lee is offered command over the entire United States military, but his duty and allegiance to his home state pull him toward the Secessionists instead. Other men are being torn by duty to state and duty to country, and through it all is the question of Virginia’s secession into two states and the question of slavery that’s on everyone’s mind. What will happen to the country when war does break out? And of course, where is the war going to take everyone in Storm Coming by Jack W. Lewis? The battles will definitely test and try each of them, as they fight their own brothers and family in a war that will tear apart the country and their lives.

Storm Coming by Jack W. Lewis is about the beginning of the Civil War and how it all began for the states right on the border of the Secessionist movement. For those states it becomes a battle for their very livelihood, and even if they’re not interested in fighting in the war, there’s no way to avoid it when it’s right outside your door. Getting a peek at a typical small town and their people really lets you see what this war did to the common man, but getting a peek at the soldiers who rise to the challenge and everything they go through is even more intriguing. There are plenty of characters to relate to and you get to see the war brewing from just about every corner, so you’re going to feel like you’re a part of all the action for AJ and the rest.

Romuald Dzemo

Storm Coming: A Novel of the Civil War in Western Virginia by Jack W. Lewis is a gripping Civil War novel, a powerful opening for a trilogy that will certainly win the hearts of fans of historical novels, a blend of coming-of-age story and the birth of the state of Virginia through war. The story is based on the true events of the Civil War, events at Fort Sumter, seen through the eyes of young Alexander Swaney. Alexander lives on his family farm in Pennsylvania, but he experiences no peace as the war draws nigh, wondering if he should join the battle and fight for his people and what he loves, or stay behind and pursue the love of his life. Read on to find out how he sets out on a journey that will change his life and everything he believes in, alongside his friend, Pastor Harry. Will his land find freedom and will he still be able to win the love of Sophia, the woman of his dreams?

Jack W. Lewis’ novel is a great success in its genre, a historical novel with a wonderful setting. The setting comes out clearly, and the reader gets a vivid picture of the geography, including the rugged mountains of western Virginia. The protagonist’s background is explored against a lush setting on the farms. The prose is excellent and readers will enjoy the wonderful descriptions — both of characters, setting, and the fascinating scenes — and the natural-sounding dialogues. The novel also explores powerful themes, including the fight for freedom, love and friendship, and the effects of war. Storm Coming: A Novel of the Civil War in Western Virginia is a spellbinding novel with memorable characters, a story that literally transports the reader to a historical time and place to relive an interesting piece of history. It was, for me, a delightful read.

Rabia Tanveer

Storm Coming: A Novel of the Civil War in Western Virginia by Jack W. Lewis is a historical and coming of age novel that brings to light the side of the Civil War that we might not have visited before. The story is set in 1861 when our main lead, Alexander, is struggling to come to terms with the Civil War and what is happening around him and to the people around him. He is a simple man living a simple life on his family’s farm. He wants nothing to do with the war, he wants to stay back and protect his family and the woman he loves.

However, not all is right in this part of his life. The woman he loves, Sophia, might not want to marry him at all. There is another man who is fighting for her and there is not much Alexander can do about it. In this dark time, he finds a friend and an ally in the form of a pastor named Harry. Together they overcome a lot and join the military together. What happens next in their life matures Alexander and makes him question everything - from his friendship with Harry to considering who he should trust. His life is in upheaval and he has no control over it.

Storm Coming is one of the best historical novels I have read this year. The story was very well handled by Jack W. Lewis; the character development was wonderfully crafted. Alexander’s journey was poignant and very believable, mainly because it is based on a true story and because Mr. Lewis brought the character to life with his sharp words and supreme handle on the story. This novel was truly tremendous.

Mary Swanson

Great book. Where is volume 2?