Inglourious Basterds meets Stranger Things in this dark and thrilling tale of power, shadow, and revenge set during World War II. World War II is raging, and five teens are looking to make a mark. Daniel and Rebeka seek revenge against the Nazis who slaughtered their family; Simone is determined to fight back against the oppressors who ruined her life and corrupted her girlfriend; Phillip aims to prove that he's better than his worst mistakes; and Liam is searching for a way to control the portal to the shadow world he's uncovered, and the monsters that live within it--before the Nazi regime can do the same. When the five meet, and begrudgingly team up, in the forests of Germany, none of them knows what their future might hold. As they race against time, war, and enemies from both this world and another, Liam, Daniel, Rebeka, Phillip, and Simone know that all they can count on is their own determination and will to survive. With their world turned upside down, and the shadow realm looming ominously large--and threateningly close--the course of history and the very fate of humanity rest in their hands. Still, the most important question remains: Will they be able to save it?
The Shadow WarFeatured
I really liked the interactions all of these characters end up having with each other. Simone and Evangeline-the daughter of a French diplomat-relationship is volatile at a time when being GLBT is not only risky, but deadly. Liam is an American with an abusive past. He longs to open up the portal to another world at whatever cost.
The Sci-Fi angle gives the story an unique twist. What would have happened if Hitler's allies were able to open an alternative universe that harvested hate? What I did have a hard time with though was all the different POVs throughout the story. The ones that resonated were the forbidden relationships of Simone and Evangeline and also Liam and Daniel. Those scenes were raw with emotion and longing.
One part of the story had me think though of those who reported wanting to help the Resistance as long as it didn't cost them too much. There's one scene where the characters encounter so-called helpers of the Resistance, who basically downplay the horrors of the Holocaust since they hadn't seen it first hand. Sound familiar? I almost wanted more scenes like that.
Unique twist on WWII and the idea of what would have happened if Hitler was able to use a paranormal world to help conquer the world and those who were courageous enough to stand up to that evil.
Following 5 teens trying to survive, THE SHADOW WAR imagines World War II with a shadow realm involved. Liam, brilliant young genius, found the shadow realm while studying at Princeton, and he knows it could change the entire course of the war. He just has to make sure the Nazis can't use it as well. Siblings Daniel and Rebeka barely escaped when the Nazis killed their family, and they want revenge. Phillip is looking to make a difference and prove himself. Simone is helping the Resistance while recovering from a broken heart. When their journeys intersect, they will have to band together to help take down the evil that is all around them.
What I Liked:
-The premise: I love books set in history that add something to it, whether it's supernatural, fantastical, etc. Lindsay Smith does a remarkable job making something terrifying (Nazis) become even more monstrous with shadows. With Liam, we also get a cool idea of how the realm is imaginable in scientific theories. One of my favorite scenes is when Liam and Phillip get to geek out over science and engineering for a bit when they meet.
-The romance: I wasn't expecting romance to have as much of a presence, but THE SHADOW WAR offers several deep, emotional romances. Liam and Daniel brought many a swoon, and Phillip and Rebeka had a beautiful rising tension. I think Simone's relationship with [redacted for spoilers] had such an unexpected journey that had me tearing up.
-The theme of what it means to do good: Each of the 5 people we follow have different methods of doing good and fighting evil. They make you feel the true sacrifice and risk that often comes with doing the right thing. We meet a few side characters who want to help the Resistance, but they aren't willing to take the risk to do much to actually help, and they refuse to believe the Nazis are actually killing people. It echoes so much of what can be seen in many periods of war and atrocities when people chose convenience over actively doing good. Our 5 protagonists show that fighting evil is never easy but it is absolutely necessary, risks and all.
What Left Me Wanting More:
-The narration/the plot: With 5 protagonists, having 1 narrator (Cary Hite) for them all was difficult. There wasn't a very distinct range of character voices, so at times, it was easy to get lost in where I was at in the story and who's POV was happening. This also made it hard to tell if I was primarily struggling with the narration or the plot. However, the accents (primarily German and American) in general were really well done, as was the big climax fight scene.
While I wasn't sold on the plot and narration, overall, THE SHADOW WAR is a powerful examination of war, sacrifice, survival, and love perfect for those who like historical fiction with a twist.