Monday, June 27, 2011
Review of Veiled in Shadows
From Goodreads: 1937, Ebi Gausel is riding high as a member of Germany's elite guard, Hitler's SS. An unexpected romance arrives in Ebi's life in the form of the fiery Katharina. Even with Europe teetering on the brink of war their happiness seems assured. But Ebi's certainty comes crashing down as Katharina disappears, leaving hints of a dark secret. In a war fought in the shadows... those who live may do so at the cost of their humanity. Two lovers united by passion ...and divided by hate. As they fight for survival... their most ruthless foe might be one another.
I'll admit, I don't read war fiction. I don't watch war movies. I don't even like talking about war. Spree, I couldn't even watch the Feed The Children commercials in the 80s without bawling. It's not just because I'm a pacifist, because the best war stories aren't about the war, anyway. I'm not sure what it is about these stories that evokes deep sobs from my gut, but it happens every time.
It can be quite embarrassing in a movie theater, btw.
So, why did I read a novel set in WWII Germany? Just feeling masochistic? No. Because I like supporting our online writing community, and I wanted to read Al's work. It had been a long, long time since I had decided to read or watch anything war-related. I've matured (no, really, I have!). I thought it might not be so bad on the emotional level.
I was wrong. Russell's characters evoked emotions from me on several levels, often requiring me to lay the book down and savor my own tears. I enjoyed the ride through the characters' journey of love and war, and seeing multiple sides and viewpoints along the way.
The story is told in first person, though through several people, which can get confusing over time. The most central character, Katherina (or Victoria), seems to be the only person who doesn't make a narrative appearance, keeping her "veiled in shadow". One character gives his side of the story in present tense--a writing choice I didn't understand and which kind of bugged me, but that's a minor point.
Overall I enjoyed the story. It goes through several unexpected twists and turns, especially at the end. If you like period or war fiction and you're looking for an emotional ride, you should read this book.