Reviews & Ramblings

Review & Ramblings Hadamar: The House of Shudders by Jason Foster

Before I start, I want to say a huge thank you to Aus Ya Bloggers and Big Sky Publishing for organising this blog tour and providing me with a review copy.

Lets begin.

“When the truth of what happened within the asylums walls became known, the people of Hadamar gave the institution a nickname. They called it the house of shudders.”

I love how they are using traditional language to describe the Nazi officers and that there is a glossary in the back to refer to. It adds to the authenticity of the book.

I can’t imagine what life must have been like for Ingrid. The colour of her skin betraying her at every stage of her life, being told she was stupid and disgusting and simple, because her mother married a man of colour. It breaks my heart to see how far people went, based on a horribly wrongly perpetuated belief. Ingrid was assaulted, steralized, tormented, taunted and even raped, because of the colour of her skin.

“You have been brought here to decide whether you are a candidate for sterilization” p 16. Ingrid was only 14.

Hadamar, is one of the best books I have read, that focuses on a rarely discussed element of The Holocaust. Yes, it is confronting and emotionally jarring. But it is done in such a way that it is almost gently written, so you can fully grasp what is happening without in depth, detailed explanations.

Ingrid is a fascinating character. She is strong, honest, intellegent and not afraid to ask questions, which, for a woman in her position is incredible. The things that she was forced to do, to stay alive, the horrors that she witnessed and yet she kept going. She kept working and serving and cleaning, focusing on her future, of leaving Hadamar and finally having a dream life.

Hadamar is incredibly well written, the words flow smoothly across the page, easing you in to some of the more confronting moments. Perfectly paced, fast enough to keep the pages turning, but slow enough that the power of the meaning and experiences behind the words, aren’t lost.

I have mixed feelings about the saving of Hadamar, about how the war came to an end and what it meant for those people living in camps. It is such a happy thing, to see hundreds of thousands of people liberated from their horrors. But then you realise, what do they have to go back to? Do they have any family still alive? Is their home still standing? Then the questions about their lives roll in, how will they function in society after living through that horror? Will they be able to love, to make a new family? Or will they be so, incredibly effected by what they lived through, that this freedom is scarier than they imagined.

Foster has written scenes which touch on my above thoughts perfectly. He shows us the towns, the destruction, the almost hopping nature of bombs, destroying some homes but not others. And how sometimes there is that glimmer of hope, that someone from their family survived.

I am so happy that Ingrid made it through her experience at Hadamar. Obviously we knew she did, as this is her story, but there were times there, that I honestly thought she had given up. And who could blame her.

Her input into the war crimes trials would have been instrumental in persecuting the staff from Hadamar. Ingrid was so incredibly brave to speak up, to look those monsters in the eye and call them out for their lies.

Hadamar: The House of Shudders, is one of the most moving, original and honest depictions of the Second World War, that I have read. And I’ve read a lot. This is also the first one I have come across that the view point is from a person of colour. Giving the reader a fresh take on the horiffic time in history.

I really enjoyed how Foster made sure we saw Ingrids story through. The inclusion of the War Crimes Trials really added a layer of transparency, of a deeper connection to the history of the war and how it didn’t really end, after its official end.

Fosted wrapped up this book in such a respectful way, there was no cliche happy ending, there was no forced relationships or extraordinary lives. Just honesty and the notion that surviving something like that changes who you are.

Incredibly well written, Hadamar: The House of Shudders is a book that everyone should read. It is moving, confronting, shocking and horrific. But it also shows the strength of humanity, the power that believing in something gives you.

I am honoured that I got to be a part of the Aus YA Bloggers Blog Tour for this book. It wouldn’t have popped up on my radar otherwise, which would have been a tragic loss for me. So thank you, for the opportunity.

I sincerely hope that if you have read my review, or seen a photo of this book somewhere, that you pick it up. Read it. Inform yourself of the world’s history. The more we know, the less likely it is to happen again.

Happy Reading!

Reviews & Ramblings

Review & Ramblings: Ursa by Tina Shaw

Firstly, I want to say thank-you to Walker Books Australia, for sending me a review copy, in exchange for an honest review. I truly appreciate the opportunity!

As always, here is your disclaimer that this review may contain spoilers, If you haven’t read this book, I highly recommend avoiding the spoilers by reading my spoiler-free review on GoodReads HERE.

43051554

 

Ursa – Tina Shaw

Published April 1st 2019 by Walker Books Australia

3-Stars

GoodReads

 

 

 

 

This book is slow to start, I’m about 60 pages in and finding the language to be quite stiff and the pacing, on the slow side. That being said, I am interested to see what happens and where the story Is heading. It does feel familiar, typical dystopian, ‘us’ being ruled by ‘them’, but I’m sensing a twist may be starting to take place.

Noting much is happening. You can tell that there is going to be some kind of a revolt and that Jorzy, is going to be involved somehow, but I wish it would speed up a little bit.                     I’m assuming the friendship with Emee, is going to have an important part to play at some point? I am intrigued and will definitely keep reading, but it really feels like something is missing, like something isn’t quite gelling together.

I feel like we need to know more about Leho’s mum. That would be an interesting story! Why is she so hates? Why are the people she talks to suddenly assaulted brutally in the street? What did she plan that was so bad, she got blinded then locked herself away? I need answers!

Woah, hang on, on top of being starving, living in ghettos and treated as a lesser people (hello Holocaust connotations), there is also a rape. I was not prepared for there to be rape and quite frankly it doesn’t really fit with the story. I understand it is there to show the brutality of the Travestors, to show how the Cerels are the lesser people and that they can be treated as though they aren’t people. But I also feel it was pointless in this case. I don’t think it needed to be Leho’s sister, it could have been a rumour, heard by the kids, not someone so close to Leho, unless there is a plot line for it. I just hope it wasn’t rape, for the sake of rape, it didn’t really have a big ‘wow’ or shock-factor, so I am interested to see where this line goes.

I have under 100 pages left and still, very little has happened. This is going to be one of those books, where everything happens in the last 50 pages, and although I am looking forward to the action finally happening, I am also tired of nothing happening.

I think it was way too easy for Leho to get a job, working in the directors’ garden. Firstly, he lied to get the job, there were no checks, people just accepted that he was there and who he said he was. It felt too easy, too convenient.

I am slowly losing patience with this book. I am eagre to lean what Leho will do, how far he will go to impress his brother, or will he choose to try to save his family. I just hope, whatever he does, he does it soon.

I think I have just hit the turning point. Emee’s world is starting to turn. Of course, the Travestors had no idea that Cerel men were being forced against their will, into work camps. I wonder what Emee does with this new information, or if she will ignore it.

It is hard not to compare this book to the Holocaust. The Cerels are the ‘lesser’ peoples, forced to live in ghettos, not having access to enough food, or any health care. They are excluded from entering certain shops, with signs plastered to walls telling them where they can and can’t shop. The Black Masks, showing such random brutality towards any Cerel on the street and the most similar is the removal of all men and their placement into work camps. I’m not sure if it was the intent of the author for the similarities, but I can’t un-notice them.

Okay, allow me to get back on the Marina and her rape, rant train. As I mentioned above, I completely understand the reason that Shaw wrote in a rape, the brutality of the Black Masks, had to be shown to be completely brutal and horrific, but there was no real plot for this horror. As it happened to a pretty significant character, I expected there to be something more. We know that Cerels are banned from having children, which leads to Marina having to leave to hide her pregnancy, but that is all we got, following up the horror. I am crabby about the use of rape when it didn’t add to the story line and it didn’t have any follow ups. I think it could have been hinted at in different ways.

All of the action took place within the last 20 pages. Yet, I still am questioning Leho’s motives. It really feels like he just wanted to impress his brother, not make a change to the horrific world that he lives in.                                                                                                              This book was written well, in a style that kept the pages turning. It was interesting to see this world, two classes of people, one of poverty and one of privilege.  Can’t help but draw similarities to the Holocaust, to the horror that people had to face. Yes, Ursa is a horrific place to live if you are a Cerel, but it feels a little like something was missing, like we weren’t given enough information.

The book finishes on a revolution and a funeral, yet nothing is truly resolved, and I don’t think there is another book coming. It all feels rather pointless.  Leho’s character felt very naïve, I realise that he is quite young, but he has to live through such horrors and to literally fight to put food on the table. But he throws good things away to impress his brother, not because he, himself wants change.

This was a 3-star read for me. It had its moments of wonderful writing and snippets of information that really lifted the plot, but I just think that there were too many things missing for it to be truly enjoyable. I think we needed more back story, more information on the Government and on Leho’s parents. If there had been more information provided, instead of following Leho around the countryside (for most of the book), I think it would have taken this book to another level. A good read, just something was missing for me.

 

If you are still here, thanks’ for sticking around!

Have you read Ursa? What did you think?

 

Julie.