Genre: historical fiction, magical realism
“She’d already lost her face. She could not let the rest of herself (however dark, however broken) slip away. So she traced and she named. She hurt and she raged. She remembered.”
It’s 1956, Hitler has taken over Japan. Yael was put in a death camp as a five year old girl, experimented on and instead of dying like so many others, her looks went from dark to fair. And then she got more magical abilities, which helped her escape. Years later she’s on her own when she runs into the resistance. She competes in a motor cycle race through Asia in honour of Hitler, trying to get close enough to assassinate him. She gets the spot pretending to be another girl, which gets tricky as both her brother and ex-boyfriend shows up.
Rating out of five:
I might’ve bought and started reading this book by mistaking it for another. Never regretted it, I wouldn’t normally pick up a book like this, but it was an amazing read. It’s a weird plot, but it was done so well. I loved the moto race, I loved the characters and how magic is braided into a “historical” event and war crimes.
The girl Yael is pretending to be really was fierce and would do anything to win, something she needs to learn to be if she’s going to complete her goals. It makes an interesting conflict to see her struggling to deal with how far she’s willing to change, what limit she has to cross to no longer feel like herself. How she interacts with the brother and ex-boyfriend (maybe?) puts another level of difficulty on both the plot and writing and it was done really well. The times in the death camp is just heartbreaking, as she watches everyone she loves dying and leaving her all alone. Seeing Yael have small moments of fun even on her journey for revenge means something.
I completely recommend this book to anyone that’s interested, it was entertaining, sad as well as thought-provoking read at times.
“Live? In a world of fangs and lonely? Or die. In a cage of smoke and needles.”
“Her self-reflection was no reflection at all. It was a shattered mirror. Something she had to piece together, over and over again. Memory by memory. Loss by loss. Wolf by wolf. It was easy—too easy—to pretend. To fill that empty space inside her with other lives. Bernice Vogt. Mina Jager. Adele Wolfe. Girls who never had to face the smoke or watch the syringes slide under their skin. Girls who never had to stare into the eyes of the Angel of Death. Again and again and again. It was too easy to get lost. This was why, every night before she fell asleep, she peeled back her sleeve, traced the wolves, and said their names. Because somewhere in there—in those fragments of gone souls and memories—was Yael. Not chemicals, but essence. The real Yael.”
“Toasts 7:00 – Dinner 8:00 – Dancing 8:15 – Murder 8:16 – Escape Of course, the final two hadn’t been on the list, but that was where they fit in the timetable.”