by: Laura E. Vasilion
Set against the backdrop of World War II, Maelstrom is a cross-genre novel of love, loss, and sacrifice. Inspired by the experiences of the author’s father, the novel follows Johnny Loring, a musician and Navy photographer, from New England to the harsh but ethereal island of Iceland.
The story begins in Boston on November 28, 1942, Johnny’s last night in port. Tensions between Johnny and his girlfriend, Libby, erupt that day, hours before a fire ravages the city’s Cocoanut Grove nightclub. Unable to find her in the aftermath, Johnny is forced to ship out, further fueling his anxieties about heading to war. At sea, ferocious winter gales batter his ship and Nazi U-boats wreak havoc on his convoy. Forced to capture these horrors on film, he is not prepared for the most disturbing one of all: the frozen bodies of dozens of young women bobbing in the North Atlantic.
Defying orders, Johnny keeps one of the photo slides of the classified event. What he must decide, as the war rages on, is whether his loyalty is to the government or his own conscious.