Hello, hello, hello!
We’re back again with another blog tour, and this was an interesting one! I’m quite picky when it comes to historical fiction, and this one sounded like it could be enjoyable, so I went for it! Needless to say, it was an experience – but overall, it was a good story!
Title: The Book of Uriel
Author: Elyse Hoffman
Genre: Adult, Historical Fiction
Publisher: Project 613 Publishing
Publication Date: 26th January 2021
Synopsis: Ten-year-old Uriel has always been an outcast. Born mute in a Jewish village known for its choir, he escapes into old stories of his people, stories of angels and monsters. But when the fires of the Holocaust consume his village, he learns that the stories he writes in his golden notebook are terrifyingly real.
In the aftermath of the attack, Uriel is taken in by Uwe, a kind-hearted linguist forced to work for the commander of the local Nazi Police, the affably brutal Major Brandt. Uwe wants to keep Uriel safe, but Uriel can’t stay hidden. The angels of his tales have come to him with a dire message: Michael, guardian angel of the Jewish people, is missing. Without their angel, the Jewish people are doomed, and Michael’s angelic brethren cannot search for him in the lands corrupted by Nazi evil.
With the lives of millions at stake, Uriel must find Michael and free him from the clutches of the Angel of Death…even if that means putting Uwe in mortal danger.
The Book of Uriel is a heartbreaking blend of historical fiction and Jewish folklore that will enthral fans of The Book Thief and The World That We Knew.
It was a good story, and I enjoyed the plot, world-building and characters. Uwen and Uriel were my favourite characters by far, and their companionship was one of the book’s biggest strengths. Both characters were strong and well-rounded in their own right, and their development was nothing short of admirable. Even Major Brandt, whilst a despicable human being, kept me curious as to how events were going to unfold.
The world-building was also really well-done, and I learnt a lot about Judaism that I didn’t know before. Also, I liked how the events of the book clearly portrayed the despicability of the events happening in Poland during WWII, but that it wasn’t a simple case of Germans (or more specifically, Nazis) vs Jews. The Poles were involved in the violence too, and those involved could not be simply divided into good vs. bad. Uwe, for example, was at first a part of the system of oppression by conforming and keeping his head down, but throughout the novel we see him break from this way of thinking and make things right by being part of the resistance.
The folklore and fantasy aspects of Uriel’s quests and deal with the Angel of Death added an extra layer to the story, adding a sense of lightness to the heavy topics that were explored. It was part children’s book, part historical fiction. I appreciated those scenes a lot, as the book felt a little too heavy and dark at times, and Uriel’s stories and quests were a great break from those feelings.
I also appreciated the inclusive representation. To make a mute boy the main character was so inspired, and I could relate to him finding his “voice” in his writing.
Other than that, however, I could not get past the formatting of this book. It was split into 10 chapters, but those chapters were incredibly long. At times, this made it hard to get through them, and I had to keep pushing myself to read in order to feel like I was making any progress. Perhaps, if the chapters were shorter, this may not have been an issue for me.
The ending, however, was sad but worth the long journey. It brought tears to my eyes, and make me remember about the importance of history, humanity, and faith in other people. Violence brings out the worst in us, and community, the best; we can’t forget that working together towards a common goal, no matter what your differences, is better than letting our differences divide us. If anything, they should strengthen us.
Overall, this was a good story for me – it was very impactful, but not one that I would rave about, due to the formatting difficulties. However, if you are not bothered by this, I would highly recommend you check this book out!
‘The Book of Uriel’ is perfect for those who want a book that will completely immerse you in its events, and help remind you of the complexity of humanity, and our many sides. You can purchase the book on Book Depository, or check it out on Goodreads!
Do you like historical fiction novels? What was the last one you read and liked? Let me know in the comments below!
Written by: Alexia DeBono
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