Its been a long time since I’ve read a book set during WWII, and probably The Alice Network by this author was the last. Despite being excellent books, stories set during the holocaust can be very distressing and that’s probably why I waited till the author’s new release. And this book is no different – featuring some amazing characters, especially women whom I can never forget.
The best part of any Kate Quinn novel is reading the author’s note at the end where we get such interesting information about the real life people on whom the characters are based. While I knew about the role women played in the World Wars in the west (which was essentially at the home front supporting the troops), I was surprised to know about the Night Witches – the Russian all female bomber regiments, who dealt a lot of damage to the Germans with their nighttime raids. The author tells us their story through the character of Nina – how these young women from different strata of society came together to fight for their country, some because of their love for Mother Russia, some to prove that they are as good or better than the men and many others because they find no other future for themselves. Nina falls in the latter category, choosing to fly to escape from her life in Siberia and finding home in the skies. She can come across as bloodthirsty and abrasive, but the obstacles that she overcomes in her life are tremendous and she is just such an admirable woman. Her interactions with her fellow sisters from the regiment and especially Yelena were heartwarming to read about and her separation from them really hurt so much. The author captures every single emotion that she feels with extreme sensitivity and I truly felt all of them.
We also get to know about some great people who dedicated their lives to bring those criminals to justice – the ones who weren’t at the top of the Nazi hierarchy but were the everyday participants of the support system. The characters Ian and Tony symbolize them – guys who can’t find peace just because some Nazis were punished at Nuremberg while many others just went back to living without any consequences. Ian has a personal agenda to find the Huntress, but he is relentless in his pursuit of finding anyone responsible along the way and is quite selfless. While he is the stoic one, Tony is a charmer who uses his smiles and good looks and wonderful way with words to extract information from witnesses. These two and Nina make for a very unlikely but awesome team when they finally decide to hunt the Huntress. Jordan on the other hand is a remarkable young woman, wanting to pursue her dreams despite being told her dreams are not appropriate for a woman. I loved the way she is relentless in going with her gut and following the threads that her pictures tell. I particularly enjoyed the way the author weaved the narrative around all these characters and when they all came together, it made for an explosive climax.
If you enjoy historical fiction or love the older books by Kate Quinn, I don’t need to tell you that please pick up this book. It’s a wonderful story about people with the drive to bring Nazi criminals to justice, even when the world wants to forget them and move on. This book has strong women characters, an engaging plot, intense romantic elements, and a deep emotional connect that will leave you feeling mesmerized. Highly recommend.