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May 13, 2018

3 Historical Novels for Fans of WWII Fiction

by Susan Roberts

I seem to be reading lots of WWII books recently. I have reviews of three books for you today that look at the war from totally different perspectives. One is about a young girl who helps the resistance, one is about a man trying to survive inside a concentration camp and one is about the war from the perspective of the fighting in Croatia.
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Orphan Monster Spy by Matt Killeen

Orphan Monster Spy
March 2018; Viking Books for Young Readers
978-0451478733; audio, ebook, print (432 pages)
YA, historical, thriller
This book about WWII has a fierce young female main character who wants to do what she can to defeat the Germans. After her Mom is killed at a checkpoint as they try to escape from Germany, she is rescued by a spy and after observing her, he asks for her help.

Sarah is a blonde, blue-eyed Jewish girl of 15. She was raised by her mom, an actress, who taught her how to take on different personas and accents. She's asked to enroll in an exclusive girl's school in Berlin to try to get information on another girl's family. Talk about a mean bunch of girls - this group is vile! As she tries to keep her secrets about her past she attempts to ingratiate herself with the meanest girls in the school to fulfill her mission.

This was a well-written novel with lots of research to back it up. Though it's listed as YA, there were some scenes that I think would be difficult for a very young reader. For anyone who enjoys a good book with a strong female main character, this is the book to read.

Buy Orphan Monster Spy at Amazon

The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris

The Tattooist of Auschwitz
September 2018; Harper; 978-0062870674
audio, ebook, print (288 pages)
Historical, Jewish literature
This is a beautifully written, wonderfully researched novel about a Jewish man during WWII. The historical fiction novel is based on a real person who told his story to the author. He and his wife had kept their lives private after they moved to Australia after the war but after his wife died after over 50 years of marriage, he felt the need to share their story with the world.

Lale Sokolov was a young man when he decided to go to a work camp to save the rest of his family. He finds out later that this was a lie and most of the rest of his family didn't survive. He was given the job of tattooist - the person who tattooed the numbers on the arms of the prisoners. Because he had a bit more freedom than most, he was able to get extra food to share with other people. One day he saw Gita and knew that he had to get to know her. The next several years were terrible for both of them and the atrocities that went on were horrendous. He managed to find her again after the war and they immigrated to Australia.

This is a difficult story to read due to the horrible things that were going on in the camps but Lale had decided early on that he would survive and that thought kept him alive every day. So even though it's a very sad story - it's also very uplifting and shows the very best of humanity in the very worst of circumstances.

Pre-order The Tattooist of Auschwitz at Amazon

The Circumstantial Enemy by John Bell

The Circumstantial Enemy
October 2017; 978-1973147206
ebook, print (324 pages); military, thriller
I read a lot of WWII fiction and this one was a bit different due to the area of the war. It was about the war in Croatia where people either supported Hitler or communism. There was extreme cruelty on both sides and friends and family often ended up on different sides of the war.

The main character is Tony, a pilot who finds himself aligned with the Germans and ends up in a POW camp in the US. His two friends are Katarina and Goran who help the communist side of the fighting. They are all faced with cruel and terrible circumstances and struggle to survive.

Because of the different perspective of the novel and my lack of knowledge about Croatia, I struggled to find my way through the beginning of the book. Once I figured out the storyline, I found this to be a fantastically well written and very well researched novel with characters that will stay in my mind. My advice is to keep reading and you won't be disappointed with this fantastic book.

Buy The Circumstantial Enemy at Amazon



Susan Roberts lives in North Carolina when she isn't traveling. She and her husband enjoy traveling, gardening and spending time with their family and friends. She reads almost anything (and the piles of books in her house prove that) but her favorite genres are Southern fiction, women's fiction, and thrillers. Susan is a top 1% Goodreads Reviewer. You can connect with Susan on FacebookGoodreads,  or Twitter.

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