Friday, February 10, 2023

The Forest of Vanishing Stars (Kristin Harmel)

For me, the gold standard for World War II novels in the historical fiction genre are Krisin Hannah's The Nightingale and Tatiana de Rosnay's Sarah's Key. By gold standard, I'm talking about books that leave a mark on your soul. The Forest of Vanishing Stars is my first introduction to author Kristin Harmel. It's a worthwhile read but one that doesn't quite match the profundity of the other two books I mentioned.

The story begins with a very young Yona being kidnapped from her German parents by a very old woman. She is raised in the forest and left completely alone when the woman dies. But that changes when she comes across a group of Jews in the forest who are trying to escape the Nazi regime. Yona teaches the group what she knows about living in the forest until her past comes back to haunt her in a big way.

The Forest of Vanishing Stars is well-researched (as the author note describes) and inspired by true events. There are times when it is very moving and suspenseful. The love stories interspersed between the stories of survival take away from the novel a bit for me, but it is still worh reading. I will definitely read more by this author.