Wizards of Once: Never and Forever by Cressida Cowell

Title: Wizards of Once: Never and Forever

Author: Cressida Cowell

Genre: Fantasy

Publisher: Hodder Children’s/Hachette

Published:  22nd September 2020

Format: Paperback

Pages: 385

Price: $19.99

Synopsis: The final book in the Wizards of Once quartet. Warriors and Wizards combine forces against the dreadful power of the Kingwitch, whose searing evil threatens not only the Wildwoods, but all its creatures.

The No.1 bestselling series from the author of How to Train Your Dragon. Can Xar and Wish unite their worlds in time to save the Wildwoods? Will it be Never… or Forever? The final book in the magical The Wizards of Once series. Xar and Wish have found the ingredients for the Spell-to-get-rid-of-Witches. Now the Kingwitch is calling them to the lake of the lost. But first they must mix the potion in the Cup of Second Chances …

Can they defeat the hungry Tatzelwerm monster and escape with the cup? And will the spell be strong enough to lift the CURSE OF THE WILDWOODS… or will Witches reign FOREVER?


“A rollercoaster of suspense and surprise” GUARDIAN
“Cowell is moving towards national treasure” BIG ISSUE
“Another coup from Cowell” SUNDAY TIMES

~*~

Wish and Xar have come to the end of their journey, and with this final offering, we must bid our unusual, yet well suited heroes adieu. But first, we must join them on their quest to unite the Warrior and Wizard worlds against the witches and defeat the Tatzelwerm monster. Their parents, Encanzo and Sychorax, are still chasing their children across the Bronze Age world they live in.

The final book in the Wizards of Once series picks up directly after Knock Three Times, and concludes a rollercoaster of a year, filled with surprises, suspense, friendship and magic. Each book has built on the previous one, and has included references and common phrases across the series to link the books, told through the eyes of the Unknown Narrator (we may find out who they are in this book), and with themes that are universal yet told in a unique way. There are elements of traditional tales and myths of the Celtic tradition threaded throughout and leading up to something that I didn’t see coming, and its inclusion, and the way it was done, was very clever, and hopefully readers will appreciate it.

This is a fun series, filled with danger, humour, magic, family and loyalty. It is about pushing past prejudice and accepting people for the kind of person they are. It is about loyalty and helping your friends when things get tough, or when they need help to overcome the challenges that they face with the Witchstain and Wish’s Magic-that-works-on-iron.

Wish and Xar are at first, unlikely friends and heroes, but when they band together with Perdita, Caliburn, the sprites, and many others, they form an alliance that brings old feelings and tensions to the surface and forces the Wizard and Warrior forts to become allies as they search for their children and try to defeat the Kingwitch.  Will they succeed, and at what cost?

This lively and rollicking adventure has come to its end. And as sad as it is to say farewell to Xar and Wish, the end gives a delightfully tasty hint as to what the Unknown Narrator might see in their future. But you should read all four in order – no skipping, now – to find out what happens, and what this will lead to.

Let your imagination run wild and enjoy the final book in this quartet. A wonderful series of magic and friendship for all readers aged eight and older.

Wherever You Go (Around the World Supper Club) by Monique Mulligan

Title: Wherever You Go (Around the World Supper Club)

Author: Monique Mulligan

Genre: Fiction

Publisher: Pilyara Press

Published: 18th September 2020

Format: Paperback

Pages: 340

Price: $29.99

Synopsis: A life-shattering tragedy threatens to tear apart chef Amy Bennet’s marriage. Desperate to save it, she moves with her husband Matt to Blackwood, a country town where no one knows who they are.

Forced to deal with her crumbling marriage and the crippling grief that follows her wherever she goes, Amy turns to what she knows best: cooking. She opens a café showcasing regional seasonal produce, and forms the Around the World Supper Club, serving mouth-watering feasts to new friends. As her passion for food returns, she finds a place for herself in Blackwood. But when a Pandora’s Box of shame and blame is unlocked, Matt gives Amy an ultimatum that takes their marriage to the edge.

Rich with unexpected characters and extraordinary insight, Wherever You Go is a powerful and ultimately uplifting tale of heartbreaking loss, recovery, and redemption.

~*~

Amy and Matt have moved to Blackwood to escape the vicious whispers and rumours that have plagued them for the past three years. They’re hoping Blackwood will be a new start as they try to reconnect. Yet their marriage is crumbling as Amy tries to navigate her fears, her grief, and her new café, Brewed to Taste. Here, she starts to make friends: Devi, Nick, Bonnie, Irene, and Irene’s great-granddaughter, Ashlee, June, Frank and several others. They form the Around the World Supper Club, and for a while, things seem okay.

Until local gossips, Una and her daughter Sharon, unleash Pandora’s Box – and humiliate Amy, undoing all the hard work. Despite the support everyone else gives Amy, allowing her to talk about what happened when she is ready, Matt threatens to leave. Three years ago, Amy had been in a car accident in Germany, where her daughter, Pandora, died. Amy has run from the secrets and innuendo, the accusations, and finds herself facing them head on in Blackwood.

Most books revolving around a relationship are about the couple getting together, the first delightful sparks of a new romance. The ups and downs, the magic of the first kiss. Usually, these books end with a happily ever after, fading to black as readers imagine the couple together forever. Very rarely do we find out what happens after. The what happens after, and what leads to a family or friends fracturing is sometimes more interesting. A tragedy, perhaps, has created a rift.

This is the premise of Monique Mulligan’s debut novel, Wherever You Go, the first in the Around the World Supper Club series. Wherever You Go introduces the key characters, but mainly revolves around Amy and Matt settling into life in Blackwood and finding a way back to each other and their lives together. It is a touching look at friendship, family, grief and loss, and how people recover and work towards redemption, even if this redemption is insular, and something they need to do for themselves, not for society or legal reasons.

Monique has created a powerful and touching story that gives hope, makes you shed tears and sends readers on a roller coaster of emotions as they go on Amy and Matt’s journey. The book is told in three perspectives: Irene, Matt and Amy. We see the world through their eyes, experience their emotions and their reactions. It doesn’t shy away from the difficulty of depression and anxiety, or the frustrations that some people feel when faced with this. It allows for all characters to express themselves and slowly, come to terms with what is going on in a powerful, emotive and significant way that acknowledges that grief affects everyone differently.

This debut novel is beautiful in its execution, raw and powerful. It allows readers to acknowledge their own anxieties and worries, and centres female experiences, characters and autonomy whilst at the same time, allowing Irene, Bonnie and Amy to who they are within what they want in their lives and society.

Wizards of Once: Knock Three Times by Cressida Cowell

Title: Wizards of Once: Knock Three Times

Author: Cressida Cowell

Genre: Fantasy

Publisher: Hodder Children’s Books/Hachette

Published: 24th September 2019

Format: Paperback

Pages: 460

Price: $19.99

Synopsis: The No.1 bestselling series from the author of HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON, Cressida Cowell. Enter a land of wizards, warriors, mythical creatures and powerful Magic in an exciting fantasy adventure.

The No.1 bestselling series from current Waterstones Children’s Laureate and author of HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON, Cressida Cowell. Enter a land of wizards, warriors, mythical creatures and powerful Magic in an exciting fantasy adventure. Wish and Xar are outlaws on the run, hunted by Warriors, Wizards and worst of all by WITCHES …

Can they find the ingredients for the spell to get rid of Witches before the Kingwitch gets his talons on the Magic-that-Works-on-Iron?

Their next Quest is the most terrifying and treacherous of all … and someone is going to betray them. Are you ready to KNOCK THREE TIMES?

~*~

Wish, Xar, and Bodkin are back, along with their band of sprites and animals. They’re outlaws on the run from Wizards and Warriors, and Witches as they continue their quest to find the ingredients for a spell to get rid of witches. Given sanctuary in a school for magic, the heroes must face their fears, and maintain their cover – until they’re betrayed. We meet more fun characters, who have links to some of the ones we already know as well. Welcome to the third and penultimate book in the Wizards of Once series!

I’ve been reading this series this month as I was sent the fourth book to review, and have now caught up, and am ready to delve into book four to find out what happens next for Wish and Xar.

While Xar and Wish are in hiding, their parents are hunting them, and this builds up the tension and excitement. This is one of those series that you never know what is around the corner, whilst still drawing on fairytale, myth and fantasy tropes that have been pulled together to create something vibrant, new and fresh in a fantastic quartet that ends with Never and Forever, out on the 22nd of September.

I have demolished the first three books within about two weeks, and I have adored each one. Children’s literature has such a rich history, and Cressida Cowell has brought something vibrant and exciting to the world of children’s books and literature. It’s so refreshing to see characters with visible differences, with learning disabilities reflected in a positive way. All kids will hopefully see something of themselves in Xar, Wish and Bodkin, and the unity of friendship between these three characters who some might say are unlikely friends – Xar is a Wizard, Wish is a Warrior and Bodkin is an Assistant Bodyguard, and everything tells them they should be enemies and there are lines that Bodkin should not cross when it comes to class systems in the Warrior fort.

Xar and Wish are on a dangerous journey, but Cressida Cowell has executed these dangers, so readers feel on edge, but so that they don’t get too scared. Magic abounds in this book as Wish and Xar seek to rid Xar of evil Magic, and Wish grapples with her Magic eye, and Magic that works on iron (cleverly written as Cressida draws on the folktale trope that magical folk can’t touch iron, which is a nice touch). The Unknown Narrator tells this story, and their nice little intrusions make the story fun. The identity of this narrator is also part of the quest to destroy the Kingwitch and has been an ongoing mystery throughout the first three books – and hopefully, their identity will be revealed in the final one.

I have had a few guesses as to who it might be. It could be anyone, and this is what makes this so fun. All readers are going to have their own opinion. Onwards to the final book, which shall be reviewed here next week!

If you have read the first three books, who do you think the Unknown Narrator is?

The Wild Way Home by Sophie Kirtley

the wild way homeTitle: The Wild Way Home
Author: Sophie Kirtley
Genre: Historical Fiction, Time Slip
Publisher: Bloomsbury Australia
Published: 15th September 2020
Format: Paperback
Pages: 256
Price: $14.99
Synopsis: When Charlie’s longed-for brother is born with a serious heart condition, Charlie’s world is turned upside down. Upset and afraid, Charlie flees the hospital and makes for the ancient forest on the edge of town. There Charlie finds a boy floating face-down in the stream, injured, but alive. But when Charlie sets off back to the hospital to fetch help, it seems the forest has changed. It’s become a place as strange and wild as the boy dressed in deerskins. For Charlie has unwittingly fled into the Stone Age, with no way to help the boy or return to the present day. Or is there?

What follows is a wild, big-hearted adventure as Charlie and the Stone Age boy set out together to find what they have lost – their courage, their hope, their family and their way home.

Fans of Piers Torday and Stig of the Dump will love this wild, wise and heartfelt debut adventure.

~*~

Every so often, a book comes my way that has an intriguing and mesmerising cover, that invites you to dive in and enter the world within the covers. Sometimes these are books that must be savoured, and other times, the story just pulls you along for the journey, and before you know it, you’ve read the entire thing in one sitting. The Wild Way Home by Sophie Kirtley is one of those books that will fit into both categories – to be savoured, yet also one of those books that can be devoured.

Charlie’s brother Dara is born with a serious heart condition, and Charlie runs, afraid of what is going to happen. He ends up in the forest near his home, yet it is vastly different to what he knows – no path, no access to the road, and a young boy dressed in animal skins is lying near the river. Charlie soon works out he has been transported to the Stone Age. Lost and alone, he helps Harby, the boy he tries to help, find his family and baby sister, facing unknown dangers along the way as he tries to get home to his time and his family.

Sophie Kirtley’s first novel is a historical fiction time slip with a difference – not many time slip books are set in prehistoric times like the Stone Age, and this is what makes it stand out. Where most timeslip books explore the difference in dress or how characters understand the world, this one takes it a step further, throwing in a language barrier – the language of Stone Age people, and the English that Charlie knows in 2020. It presents challenges at first as Charlie and Harby get to know each other and find a way to communicate so they can help each other ‘make safe’, as Harby puts it.

It is an adventure as well, and the world is showcased in a clear and concise way that builds a mental image for the reader – and contrasts the Stone Age of Harby with the 2020 world that Charlie lives in, through Charlie’s comparisons of the two and how he identifies areas – the names he knows them as. It also touches on what they mean to Harby and Charlie – but mostly Charlie as the story is told through his eyes and perspective as he navigates this strange world and his journey home to his family.

At its heart, this book is about family and friendship, and the love of family and friends, and the support we need in hard times. It looks at the fight or flight response in the face of something unbearable and something that cannot be controlled, and the differing responses we have and how far we will go to be with those we love. It is a wonderful, and touching debut that has the power to inspire and comfort – showing that in thousands of years of humanity, the desire to protect one’s family has never really left us. Middle grade readers and above will enjoy this story.

Piranesi by Susanna Clarke

piranesiTitle: Piranesi
Author: Susanna Clarke
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Published: 15th September 2020
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 272
Price: $27.99
Synopsis: The long-awaited return from the author of the multi-million copy bestselling Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell

Piranesi lives in the House. Perhaps he always has?

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell transported over four million readers into its mysterious world. It became an instant classic and has been hailed as one of the finest works of fiction of the twenty-first century.

Fifteen years later, it is finally time to enter the House and meet Piranesi.

May your Paths be safe, your Floors unbroken and may the House fill your eyes with Beauty.

Piranesi’s house is no ordinary building: its rooms are infinite, its corridors endless, its walls are lined with thousands upon thousands of statues, each one different from all the others. Within the labyrinth of halls an ocean is imprisoned; waves thunder up staircases, rooms are flooded in an instant. But Piranesi is not afraid; he understands the tides as he understands the pattern of the labyrinth itself. He lives to explore the house.

There is one other person in the house-a man called The Other, who visits Piranesi twice a week and asks for help with research into A Great and Secret Knowledge. But as Piranesi explores, evidence emerges of another person, and a terrible truth begins to unravel, revealing a world beyond the one Piranesi has always known.

For readers of Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane and fans of Madeline Miller’s Circe, Piranesi introduces an astonishing new world, an infinite labyrinth, full of startling images and surreal beauty, haunted by the tides and the cloud

~*~

Piranesi loves in a House in another World, writing in his diary, marking the time in an unusual way. He does not know what day, month or year it is, and we are given few hints at first as to why he is there. Piranesi is visited by the Other every so often, yet as the story unfolds and Piranesi uncovers the truth, the narrative moves in and out of the fantasy world we first meet Piranesi in, and our world.

Two worlds, one we know, and one we don’t, come together to create an unusual story that must be read in a linear way–I found that this ensured it made the most sense, and worked the best. From page one, you need to pay attention, as clues are slowly revealed through each entry.

It is a mix of reality and magical realism, with a hint at the world of antiquity and Ancient Greece. The descriptions of the world Piranesi lives in at the beginning of the book make it feel like the ancient world, until something hints at it being in the contemporary world. This gives it a sense of mythology as well.

The mix of reality, magical realism and a sense of mythology and the oral tradition gives Susanna’s new novel that sense of whimsy and intrigue needed to explore Piranesi’s journey that begins with a sense of isolation–something we are all feeling to differing degrees during this pandemic.

This is an unusual novel, quite literary but that’s why it works. Going in without knowing what is to come is disorienting and confusing yet it cleverly brings the reader around to the way the characters think and act, creating a unique world that sometimes leaves you with more questions than answers. Perhaps this is what makes it work. We don’t need to know all the answers, and Piranesi could be said to be an unreliable narrator–we’re never clear on whether we can believe him or not. His journey informs the narrative, and allows us to explore a world we may never experience ourselves, but that is extraordinary in its own way.

Eighty Years of Puffin

In 1940, Allen Lane started the Puffin imprint of Penguin to create non-fiction books to help children understand what was going on around them during World War Two. Since then, giants, spies, Oompa Loompas, magic, and many other beloved characters have entranced generations of children and built their reading confidence.

Puffin celebrates its 80th birthday this year, and has many promotions going on. If you buy two Puffin books at your local bookseller, you will receive a special edition water bottle, while stocks last. Some of the most well-known and beloved authors have been published by Puffin: Roald Dahl, Jacqueline Harvey, R.A. Spratt, and many more. Puffin also published some of the classics of childhood: Charlotte’s Web, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and many more.

The children’s section of any bookstore is vastly populated by Puffin books. This year, as stated in the article below, there are many great celebrations going on. The article also has a full history of Puffin and the evolution of its logo, a Puffin, and why Allen Lane chose the Puffin.

Source: Penguin Random House

Puffin logos over the years

I still have all my Roald Dahl Puffin books, and have many others from R.A. Spratt and Jacqueline Harvey, and Melina Marchetta, just to name a few.

Happy 80th Birthday Puffin! What a time to be alive to see an anniversary like this, and for a company that has launched many readers into the world, and will continue to do so.

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Books and Bites Bingo Update Two

In the past four months, I have managed to fill in twenty out of twenty-five categories in Books and Bites Bingo with Monique Mulligan. I have a few of the others planned, and others I need to decide. I have three months to complete this and my other challenges and hope that I can make it through and get as many as possible read by the thirty-first of December!

It’s been a slow process at times – especially with the specific categories, as finding these books has sometimes been a challenge. Especially during a pandemic when we can’t all get to libraries or bookstores, there are times when I have read what I have and sometimes found ways to make the book fit into my challenges where possible.

Looking forward to reading the others I have, but for now, here are the ones I have completed!

Books and Bites Bingo

Set in Europe: Josephine’s Garden by Stephanie Parkyn

Debut Novel: The Soldier’s Curse by Meg and Tom Keneally (Monsarrat Series Book One)  

Travel Memoir: The Strangeworlds Travel Agency by L.D. Lapinski

Published More than 100 Years Ago: The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Written in the First Person: Pippa’s Island: Puppy Pandemonium by Belinda Murrell

Fairy Tale Collection: Snow White and Rose Red: And Other Tales of Kind Young Women by Kate Forsyth and Lorena Carrington

A Book with a door on the cover: The Winterborne Home for Vengeance and Valour by Ally Carter

Written by someone called Jane: Persuasion by Jane Austen

An Australian crime or thriller: A Testament of Character (Rowland Sinclair #10) by Sulari Gentill

Wherever you go: Wherever You Go (Around the World Supper Club) by Monique Mulligan

That book you keep putting off: The Louvre by James Gardiner

A book with lots of hype: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling (Ravenclaw Edition)

Has “the girl” in the title: The Girl She Was by Rebecca Freeborn            

A book with bad reviews: Trials of Apollo: The Dark Prophecy by Rick Riordan

Book to movie: Nim’s Island by Wendy Orr

Books and Bites Book Bingo Wherever You Go

Wherever you go: Wherever You Go (Around the World Supper Club) by Monique Mulligan

One of the squares in Books and Bites book bingo with Monique Mulligan was Wherever You Go, her debut novel in the Around the World Supper Club series. Monique kindly sent me a copy to review, and it is linked here. When I first saw this bingo card, I wondered what this square could mean, and it turned out to be a specific book, but the topic had me wondering if it meant something else and was open to interpretation.

This powerful story of grief and redemption is beautifully written, very evocative and delves into themes that people don’t often talk about, or sometimes, want to talk about. It is about a marriage after the happily ever after – and how tragedy can alter someone’s life, and moving past this, if they can. My review for the 18th of September goes into more depth.  

I have now completed three rows in this challenge and have five books left to read – with a couple chosen, but I still need to read them.

Books and Bites Bingo

Set in Europe: Josephine’s Garden by Stephanie Parkyn

Debut Novel: The Soldier’s Curse by Meg and Tom Keneally (Monsarrat Series Book One)  

Travel Memoir: The Strangeworlds Travel Agency by L.D. Lapinski

Published More than 100 Years Ago: The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Written in the First Person: Pippa’s Island: Puppy Pandemonium by Belinda Murrell

Fairy Tale Collection: Snow White and Rose Red: And Other Tales of Kind Young Women by Kate Forsyth and Lorena Carrington

A Book with a door on the cover: The Winterborne Home for Vengeance and Valour by Ally Carter

Written by someone called Jane: Persuasion by Jane Austen

An Australian crime or thriller: A Testament of Character (Rowland Sinclair #10) by Sulari Gentill

Wherever you go: Wherever You Go (Around the World Supper Club) by Monique Mulligan

Eco-themes: The Vanishing Deep by Astrid Scholte

A Neil Gaiman book:

Short story collection: Radio National Fictions (various short stories on ABC Listen app

Published the year you were born:

Makes you blush: The Girl, the Dog and the Writer in Rome by Katrina Nannestad

That book you keep putting off: The Louvre by James Gardiner

A book with lots of hype: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling (Ravenclaw Edition)

Has “the girl” in the title: The Girl She Was by Rebecca Freeborn            

A book with bad reviews: Trials of Apollo: The Dark Prophecy by Rick Riordan

Book to movie: Nim’s Island by Wendy Orr

Scary: The Monstrous Devices by Damien Love

Someone you love’s fave book:

Made into a TV Series:

A title longer than five words: The Nine Hundred: The Extraordinary Young Women of the First Official Jewish Transport to Auschwitz by Heather Dune McAdam

Fave childhood book:

Book Bingo Nine 2020 – Themes of Culture

Book bingo 2020

For September’s Book Bingo with Amanda and Theresa, I am marking off the themes of culture square with The Republic of Birds by Jessica Miller and can report that the first row down has hit BINGO.

republic of birds

Themes of culture was always going to be an open topic as well – there are so many ways to go with this and so many ways to interpret this square, and in this instance, cultural aspects of the real world and Russian folklore is married with a fantasy culture to create a world where magic is banned, and there is the threat of a place known as Bleak Steppe for girls who exhibit signs of magic.

Yet the difference is that the culture that condemns magic is in stark contrast to Bleak Steppe, as Olga will find. This is a celebration of magical culture, of female culture and of sisterly love and culture that flies in the face of traditions that the girls are often thrust into in the world they live in.

It was a delightful read and one I recommend to lovers of folktale and magic, and was released in March this year.

The Good Germans: Resisting the Nazis 1933-1945 by Catrine Clay

Title: The Good Germans: Resisting the Nazis 1933-1945

Author: Catrine Clay

Genre: World War Two History, Non-Fiction

Publisher: Hachette/W&N

Published: 8th September 2020

Format: Paperback

Pages: 404

Price: $32.99

Synopsis: Award-winning historian Catrine Clay tells the gripping stories of six ordinary Germans who witnessed the rise of Nazism in Germany from within, and dared to resist it.

After 1933, as the brutal terror regime took hold, most of the two-thirds of Germans who had never voted for the Nazis – some 20 million people – tried to keep their heads down and protect their families. They moved to the country, or pretended to support the regime to avoid being denounced by neighbours, and tried to work out what was really happening in the Reich, surrounded as they were by Nazi propaganda and fake news. They lived in fear. Might they lose their jobs? Their homes? Their freedom? What would we have done in their place?

Many ordinary Germans found the courage to resist, in the full knowledge that they could be sentenced to indefinite incarceration, torture or outright execution. Catrine Clay argues that it was a much greater number than was ever formally recorded: teachers, lawyers, factory and dock workers, housewives, shopkeepers, church members, trade unionists, army officers, aristocrats, Social Democrats, Socialists and Communists.

Catrine Clay’s ground-breaking book focuses on six very different characters: Irma, the young daughter of Ernst Thalmann, leader of the German Communists; Fritzi von der Schulenburg, a Prussian aristocrat; Rudolf Ditzen, the already famous author Hans Fallada, best known for his novel Alone in Berlin; Bernt Engelmann, a schoolboy living in the suburbs of Dusseldorf; Julius Leber, a charismatic leader of the Social Democrats in the Reichstag; and Fabian von Schlabrendorff, a law student in Berlin. The six are not seen in isolation but as part of their families: a brother and sister; a wife; a father with three children; an only son; the parents of a Communist pioneer daughter. Each experiences the momentous events of Nazi history as they unfold in their own small lives – Good Germans all.

~*~

The Nazi regime of 1933-1945, fuelled by propaganda, and thrust into place by a small number of Germans who voted for them, saw those 20 million people who never voted for Hitler’s party. During the twelve years the Nazis terrorised Germany and Europe, there were many Germans who resisted.

These Germans found ways to resist. They knew the consequences of resisting or helping those the Nazis had deemed enemies, and wanted to rid the country of, but they still resisted, often at great risk to their lives. There were several ways they did this: moved to the country, joined opposing parties and resisted openly that way, and later, acting as go-betweens for people in a party such as the Communist party. Some resisted from within the system – joining up and working with underground resistance movements, as described in The Beast’s Garden by Kate Forsyth, and several of the people in this book.

The six characters explored in this book – Irma Thalmann, Fritzi von der Schulenburg, Bernt Engelmann, Julius Leber and Fabian von Schlabremdorff – each tackle their resistance in a different way, and the Fritzi’s sister, Tisa, also contributes to the resistance.  

There of course, were other resistance groups operating during this time. These groups did good work too. Here are six individuals who took a different tack and looked at what they could do and how. Catrine Clay also weaves the reality and darkness of what the Nazis did, interspersed with these stories, to illustrate what these six and others like them were up against in a realistic and gritty way. Catrine does not shy away from the grittiness of what they faced and the consequences they faced – imprisonment, torture or execution. Not all would survive to the end of the war. Those who did saw the downfall of the man and regime they had been fighting against for twelve years, proving that resistance in all its forms will eventually have its cumulative effect.

Resisting the Nazi’s was hard – but not impossible. The power in this book was in the way it explored how people resisted, and what they did, and how this impacted their families and lives. Tisa is one resistance fighter whose family, for the most part, were Nazis. Living a reality like this must have been fraught, and there would have been many tensions, but people like Tisa stood their ground, and in the end, that is what counted. This is a book that needs to be read, and is one that is powerful in its historical context, and a contemporary context.

I received this book for review, and whilst it wasn’t one I requested, these sorts of stories are always very interesting, because they’re layered and nuanced, and take what at the surface might be presented as a simplistic good versus bad story at times, and shows that there was perhaps more resistance than we might realise sometimes. It is not easy reading. It is one that does require breaks at times, to process what you’ve just read, and is one that is worth pursuing with. It took me a little longer than most books this size, but it was one that showed that there is more to this period of history than some books let on and opens a narrative that says resistance is effective. It does work. Cumulatively, this resistance and the wider war contributed to the defeat of Hitler and Nazi Germany. We find out how the war wraps up, and the division of Germany into the British, French, American and Russian zones – but we do not know where the surviving resistance fighters ended up.

Catrine used documents and stories from the families of these six resistance fighters to put together this book and has managed to sensitively tell their stories. She’s made them human and flawed but shown their great strength in this fight. This is a must read for anyone interested in World War Two history in all its forms.

I learned many things from this book, but the most important was the importance of resistance and standing up for what you believe in, and finding a way, however small, to stand up against people like Hitler and the regimes that create havoc and pain. A worthy read, but also one that needs time to digest.