Monday, 9 September 2013

Veiled in Shadows, by Allan Russell

Allan Russell: Veiled in Shadows 

Historical Fiction

Reviewed by Kathleen Jones

 I’ve been following the progress of Veiled in Shadows through all its stages via the Australian author’s blog ‘Publish or Perish’, so it’s very satisfying to finally be in possession of a copy of the novel. Allan Russell chose in the end to design his own cover and have the book printed by Lightning Source, distributed through The Book Depository and as well as offering it as an e-book.

 Allan is a very interesting person - he has Bachelors Degrees in Anthropology and Education, but has also studied Archaeology and History.  He lives Queensland Australia with his family and is a social worker, currently working for a charity supporting the homeless. He is also a wonderful wildlife photographer - as his blog testifies - and now a published author.

World War II fiction is not my first choice, so I was a little wary. I opened Veiled in Shadows when it arrived, just for a glance over a mug of coffee; half an hour later I was still reading and my coffee had gone cold. Al is a born story-teller and I was quickly wrapped up in the characters and their lives. The ending didn’t disappoint either.

Briefly, Ebi Gausel is an ambitious young SS officer who, in 1938, meets the half English Princess Victoria Katharina von Brunnenstadt and they fall deeply in love. When war breaks out, their engagement is broken off - Ebi believes because of a misunderstanding over another woman - and Victoria is taken to England by her father. There she meets a young RAF officer, Peter Robinson, and grows to love him too. At the beginning of the war, Victoria is recruited by the English secret services and played back into Germany, involved from then on in a dangerous double game at the risk of her own life. To tell you more than that would spoil the plot. One of the other female characters, Jena, is a Polish jew who survives a massacre and is subsequently recruited by Victoria as both friend and agent. Jena was one of the characters I most cared about - feisty and vulnerable and utterly real. Even Ebi, the ‘bad guy’, has his human side, as all the Nazis did, though his deeds are graphically depicted.

Veiled in Shadows isn’t literary fiction, but it’s a very good read, and more than that it’s a book that has a moral and emotional core. The characters and their lives will be with me for a long time. Allan Russell is a very good writer. I know he’s working on his second book and I will be reading that one too!

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