And all because I couldn’t stop constructing my Kanata alternative history. The initial trigger, Leif Eriksson’s permanent colonisation of Vinland, inspired me to rewrite other key episodes in history. I wanted the legacy forged from Vikings merging with the indigenous people to ripple down time. Kanata evolved into my vision of a 21st Century Viking Age.
Anyway, this one has deep roots as well as great ripples. Before the ‘our timeline’ revelation, will you recognise all the real historical events echoed here? I threw my whole set of spanners into this period. Amusing? Believably or fantasy?
Expect more alternative history ahead.
In fact, this ties with my current interests – like my short story ‘Feathered Fire’ which has a Ukrainian MC. The tale will appear in the IWSG anthology Voyagers: The Third Ghost, which is released on May 5th, 2020. There’s a taster on the IWSG Anthologies blog – if you’re tempted to delve.
From the author of the New York
Times and USA Today bestselling novel, THE ALICE NETWORK,
comes another fascinating historical novel about a battle-haunted English
journalist and a Russian female bomber pilot who join forces to track the
Huntress, a Nazi war criminal gone to ground in America.
In the aftermath of war, the hunter becomes the hunted…
Bold and fearless, Nina Markova always dreamed of flying. When the Nazis attack
the Soviet Union, she risks everything to join the legendary Night Witches, an
all-female night bomber regiment wreaking havoc on the invading Germans. When
she is stranded behind enemy lines, Nina becomes the prey of a lethal Nazi
murderess known as the Huntress, and only Nina’s bravery and cunning will keep
Transformed by the horrors he witnessed from Omaha Beach to the Nuremberg
Trials, British war correspondent Ian Graham has become a Nazi hunter. Yet one
target eludes him: a vicious predator known as the Huntress. To find her, the
fierce, disciplined investigator joins forces with the only witness to escape
the Huntress alive: the brazen, cocksure Nina. But a shared secret could derail
their mission unless Ian and Nina force themselves to confront it.
Growing up in post-war Boston, seventeen-year-old Jordan McBride is determined
to become a photographer. When her long-widowed father unexpectedly comes homes
with a new fiancée, Jordan is thrilled. But there is something disconcerting
about the soft-spoken German widow. Certain that danger is lurking, Jordan
begins to delve into her new stepmother’s past—only to discover that there are
mysteries buried deep in her family . . . secrets that may threaten all Jordan
In this immersive, heart-wrenching story, Kate Quinn illuminates the
consequences of war on individual lives, and the price we pay to seek justice
Review 5 stars
From this novel’s opening with the Huntress deciding to move
into the shadows, I was engrossed in the story, the characters, settings, the
history and Kate Quinn’s writing.
I was in awe of the writing throughout and discovered another
wonderful author to follow. I could see everything unfold as we were introduced
to the main players. The novel is told through the senses of three POVs – if
you don’t count that brief tempting glimpse into the head of the Huntress in
Jordan McBride who’s determined to become a photographer post-WWII and is inspired
by the likes of Margaret Bourke-White – one of my heroines. She is pleased when
her widowed father, who owns a Boston antiques shop, forms a relationship with
Austrian widow Annelise Weber – but she is also suspicious. Suspicions that are
heightened and dismissed or disproved but stirred up again.
Then, in 1950s West
Germany, the reader meets British war correspondent Ian Graham who has become a
Nazi hunter, aided by Tony Rodomovky, a ‘Yank’ with Polish-Hungarian blood. But
other people want to move on from focusing on Nazi crimes, especially the
judges – the focus has shifted onto the ‘Commies’. However, for Ian, finding
the elusive Huntress is personal – a reveal not rushed by the author.
Finally, we are in harsh and remote Siberia, where my
favourite character, Nina Markova
needs to escape her father. Facing tough prospects if she remains, she risks
everything to join the legendary Night Witches, an all-female night bomber
regiment that wreaked havoc on the invading Germans. Friendships and more are
forged amid a terrible struggle to survive a gritty and vicious war.
The research for
this character was impressive and I applaud Kate Quinn’s ability to blend fact
with an emotional and riveting story. The focus is on the regiment, but Stalin’s
cruel regime lurks in the shadows. Nina must manoeuvre between the two despotic
forces and carve out a life – with a razor in her oversize boots.
This book, those
remarkable aviators, and this character propelled me down a ‘Night Witches
rabbit hole’ – and added to my reading list.
lives/plotlines gradually weave together, with their different timelines
merging. The author doesn’t rush this process but crafts it with domino-events that
build. I loved the use of drip reveals. Especially as to how Nina
encounters Ian and Tony. Only one of
those men is a Russian speaker, and that is a tasty device – one that had me
re-reading parts of the book with a grin while writing this review.
The novel uses its
various settings from Siberia to Massachusetts to enhance the action and the
characters. For instance, lakes play a central role for all three main
characters. And to the Huntress whose haven was Lake Rusalka in Poland.
But which of the well-portrayed
characters will prove to be the rusalka – a lethal, malevolent water spirit? They
are all intricate in their traits and their backstories, yet there are no road-hump
The detail was balanced, whether about the main or
supporting cast. There was even a brief appearance by a character from ‘The
Alice Network’ – although I hadn’t read Kate Quinn’s previous novel at
the time. But I nodded when I met her again.
Anyway, the plotlines in ‘The Huntress’ merge, building towards a confrontation that could go different ways – depending on how the complexity of the personalities impacts on events. Revenge can depend on experiences, on abilities. As can justice. So, what can happen and will it? A memorable ending is set up with care. Maybe, there was a dip before that point, and I wanted a faster resolution. Or was I sharing the frustration of being a Nazi hunter? Or do characters need spaces to build their futures?
In summary, I enjoyed the clever plotlines, the complex characters,
significant settings, excellent research and writing style so much I want more
A book that’s hard to forget – not that I want to. In fact,
I look forward to listening to the Audible version – now I’ve finished
listening to the author’s equally engrossing ‘The Alice Network’
and they share a superb narrator.
My 2017 A to Z Challenge theme is “The History of Kanata”, the parallel world that is the setting for “Eagle Passage”, my alternative history novel that all began when I wondered, “What would have happened if Leif Eriksson had settled Vinland permanently in 1000 AD? For further details and links to my other A to Z posts – and hints at the ones to come visit “Kanata – A to Z Challenge 2017”.
R is for Rurikid Diarchy: 23 April 1933, Kiev – With the peaceful future of international relations thriving after the creation of the Union of World Nations in 1930, Tsaritsa Irina Feodorovna, co-ruler of the Rurikid Diarchy agrees with her co-ruler Patriarch Yaroslav Pieracki of the Kievan Orthodox Church that they should abdicate in favour of a true democracy. Despite the opposition of Georgian authoritarian, Josef Stalin, her Ukrainian advisors, Dariya Stasiuk and Havryil Chayka, draw up a constitution that addresses the existence in the Rurikid territories of various ethnic groups and states, using the example set by their trading partner, Kanata.
Fears of another European war diminish with the successful election of the Social Democratic Party of Germany, and the defeat of the Nazi party struggling after the death from syphilis of their psychotic leader Adolf Hitler.
A year later the Rurikid Confederation is born, with the Tsaritsa agreeing to represent Rurikid and perform speeches or attend any important ceremonial events as a symbolical guide to the people, but she agrees to hold no actual power in decision-making, appointments, etcetera. The Rurikid dynasty has ruled the Rus territories since 862, when her Varangian ancestor, Prince Rurik, originally from Norway, settled Novgorod before conquering Kievan Rus′.
In our timeline: The Rurikid Dynasty was founded by the Varangian Prince Rurik, around the year 862, and they ruled in parts of Russia for over 700 years. The Varangians was a name given to the Vikings by the East Slavs and Greeks. Many served as mercenaries with the Byzantine Empire.
The last Tsars, the Romanovs, were descended from the Rurikids through marriage, but their reign ended with the Russian Revolution in 1917. Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was a Georgian by birth and took part in the Revolutions of 1917. He was the leader of the Soviet Union from the mid-1920s until his death in 1953. Some have argued that he would have forced his way into power under any system and was never a true communist.
The Russian Orthodox Churchwas founded around 988 and survived through the Soviet period despite persecution. Some of the former states now have separate Orthodox Churches over which the ROC does not have full autonomy, notably the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
Could a move to genuine democracy in Germany and Russia, and the death of Hitler, have avoided World War II? What kind of influence could a Kanata Confederation with allies in Northern Europe have wielded?
Important Links for the A to Z Challenge – please use these links to find other A to Z Bloggers