Monday, September 10, 2018

Review: Hidden Among the Stars by Melanie Dobson

From the award-winning author of Catching the Wind, which Publishers Weekly called “unforgettable” and a “must-read,” comes another gripping time-slip novel about hidden treasure, a castle, and ordinary people who resisted evil in their own extraordinary way.

The year is 1938, and as Hitler’s troops sweep into Vienna, Austrian Max Dornbach promises to help his Jewish friends hide their most valuable possessions from the Nazis, smuggling them to his family’s summer estate near the picturesque village of Hallstatt. He enlists the help of Annika Knopf, his childhood friend and the caretaker’s daughter, who is eager to help the man she’s loved her entire life. But when Max also brings Luzia Weiss, a young Jewish woman, to hide at the castle, it complicates Annika’s feelings and puts their entire plan―even their very lives―in jeopardy. Especially when the Nazis come to scour the estate and find both Luzia and the treasure gone.

Eighty years later, Callie Randall is mostly content with her quiet life, running a bookstore with her sister and reaching out into the world through her blog. Then she finds a cryptic list in an old edition of Bambi that connects her to Annika’s story . . . and maybe to the long-buried story of a dear friend. As she digs into the past, Callie must risk venturing outside the safe world she’s built for a chance at answers, adventure, and maybe even new love.

Kindle ebook, 400 pages
Published September 2018
by Tyndale House Publishers
*** 1/2

Opening Line:
The blade of a shovel, cutting through frosted grass. That’s what she remembered most from the spring of 1938.

I have been a fan of Melanie Dobson since reading her books Catching the Wind, Château of Secrets and Shadows of Ladenbrook Manor - all historical fiction.

It is 1938 and Austria is getting overtaken by the Nazis, three young people’s lives are about to get entwined together as family secrets are uncovered and friendships are put to the test. How an original copy of Bambi, gifted from mother to daughter, ignites a journey for the present day story. 

Hidden Among the Stars weaves between 3 women with 3 vastly different stories to tell. Again I found myself drawn to the past story (nothing new there). Set around a castle, hidden treasure and forbidden love I couldn’t help feeling for these young women. It was a brutal time with the author not holding back on the atrocities that took place. While I enjoyed this book I was able to predict the outcome as the story unfolded - which isn't a bad thing.

Sometimes it’s the little tidbits I glean from certain books that stay with me, such is the case here. Callie works in a bookstore and it’s her knowledge of children’s literature and the past that did interest me.  References to some of my favorite kids' books even adding a few to my tbr pile. The author of Bambi and Curious George both Jewish fled hours before Nazis invaded (I’m still googling).

This is Christian fiction and heavy in both time periods, more so than in the author’s previous books. I feel there is a fine line where it can be too over-the-top, just right or not enough, in terms of sharing the faith of the characters, without sounding overly preachy and taking away from the story. With this book I think it was just the right blend, especially the past story. The  nightmarish path these girls faced, the struggles, it was authentic and believable. For Callie while her story was not as devastating as the other two she clung to her faith.

All in all an entertaining read, my thanks to the publisher (via netgalley) for an advanced copy of this book.


click on cover to take you to make review (except Catching the Wind - review coming soon -how did I miss that!?)

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