Recommended, with reservations
Broken Angels is an ambitious, and somewhat successful, attempt to capture the pathos of a man, a woman and a child whose lives and souls are battered against the backdrop of World War II and the ruthless regime that swept across Europe in the 1930s and 1940s.
Ambitious, because Gemma Liviero defies convention to tell the story in the present tense with alternating points of view. Somewhat successful, because this device feels contrived – and because none of the characters develop a distinctive voice. The point of view alternates with the chapters, each character narrating in turn, but the style of speech, of thought, of description remains too constant, to unchanging, to reflect the change of perspectives that each character could, and ideally would, provide.
Most readers will have to work a bit to stay in the story. Those who never tire of reading about the men, women and children whose lives were broken but whose spirits were never destroyed by the evil of this era won’t object and should be willing to follow these lives in their search for redemption. Those who demand much more may not be so satisfied.
NOTE: Sis received an advanced reading copy from Lake Union Publishing via NetGalley in exchange for an independent and unbiased review. She asserts that not only has no one influenced her opinions, no one has even attempted to do so.
From the publisher: A Nazi doctor. A Jewish rebel. A little girl. Each one will fight for freedom—or die trying.
Imprisoned in the Lodz Ghetto, Elsi discovers her mother’s desperate attempt to end her pregnancy and comes face-to-face with the impossibility of their situation. Risking her own life, Elsi joins a resistance group to sabotage the regime.
Blonde, blue-eyed Matilda is wrenched from her family in Romania and taken to Germany, where her captors attempt to mold her into the perfect Aryan child. Spirited and brave, she must inspire hope in the other stolen children to make her dreams of escape a reality.
Willem, a high-ranking Nazi doctor, plans to save lives when he takes posts in both the ghetto and Auschwitz. After witnessing unimaginable cruelties, he begins to question his role and the future of those he is ordered to destroy.
While Hitler ransacks Europe in pursuit of a pure German race, the lives of three broken souls—thrown together by chance—intertwine. Only love and sacrifice might make them whole again.
About the author: Gemma Liviero holds an advanced diploma of arts in professional writing, and she has worked as a copywriter, a corporate writer, and a magazine feature writer and editor. She is the author of the historical fiction novel Pastel Orphans, a coming-of-age story set in 1930s Berlin, as well as two gothic fantasies, Lilah and Marek. Broken Angels is her second historical novel. She now lives in Brisbane, Australia, with her husband and two children.
Available in paperback, $14.95 (USD), and Kindle ebook, $5.99 (USD) — add Audible narration for $1.99. Also available with Kindle Unlimited.