I am not really sure where to even start with this review. Maybe it would be wise to mention that I have a little bit of a strenuous relationship with WWII stories. It’s not that I don’t think they can be fantastic and valuable or even entertaining at times, but coming from Austria, there is no way around that topic. You talk about it pretty much every year in class, visit concentration camps and everyone is just afraid of it happening again, so they bombard you with the terror of the past and make you carry the guilt of generations way before your own. Yes, Austria was Hitler’s birth country and yes, we were the first to get annexed to Germany, but fact is, that I had nothing to do with the events of WWII. Yet the way it is treated in my culture still makes me feel like I have to make amends for what happened back then … you can see why I wouldn’t exactly seek out even more of that on my own time then, right?
Despite everything I just said, I still venture out into that world every now and then, because I know that these stories have an even greater impact on me than most things do. So, when I kept hearing about Wolf by Wolf on a regular basis and everyone seemed to love it, I finally caved and I am so glad I did. I wouldn’t want to miss it from my little library.
From the first page onwards, the beautiful writing never lets you go. I couldn’t remember one dull moment in the entire book. Varying between Now and Then, you get a good sense of how Yael has become the person she is now and why she is willing to do the thing she does. You can feel her determination just as much as her doubts and her wavering when she isn’t sure of her actions. Even when she doesn’t know who she really is, you know that she is a good human being.
By the end I was shaking with nerves and not sure I ever really wanted to put that book down again. However, it is just the beginning to a whole series and one has to take that into account. There are so many things still in the open and I NEED to know how it continues. I NEED to know who’s paths are going to cross again. I think I might even consider reading the novella to shorten the wait until November (Yes, you heard right. I want to read a novella at my own free will! That does not happen often!).
If I had to complain about one thing, it would partially be the use of German language. That is really just me nit-picking, because it doesn’t really have much of an impact on the story. However, it just felt so english-fied (I know that that’s not a word, but I don’t care). Sometimes there would just be too many or too few letters to a word, making it something that a native speaker wouldn’t use in a real sentence. And then there were the names. I have to say that most of them were chosen really well, except that if a person is German and their last name was Wolfe, they probably wouldn’t end it with an “e”. Neither would they shorten the name Adele to Ad. As I said though, that’s minor things and I am clearly rambling. The one name that truly nagged me was Luka Löwe … I don’t know how that sounds to you, but to me it sounds like an animated lion from a children’s cartoon, which definitely subtracted from his supposed attractiveness a lot.
Wow, this has gotten so much longer than I planned for. Either way, I think it was a great first book in a series that seemed weirdly realistic and made me shudder to think of what might have happened if events had turned out differently – I can only recommend it!
Fazit: 4.5/5 stars! A stunning piece of alternate historical fiction!
Do you think this book could be for you? Have you already read it? Did you like it?