Genre: Historical Fiction
Length: 416 pages
Audiobook Length: 8 hours and 30 minutes
First Published: 2021
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I received a complimentary copy of this book from Gallery Books through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
After being kidnapped as a toddler and raised in isolation in the German woods by a mysterious Jewish woman with powerful foresight, a young woman is shocked to find out that the world is at war. When she stumbles upon a group of Jews trying to escape the Nazi regime, she teaches them the survival skills that have kept her alive. After she is betrayed, she ends up in a German-occupied town where her past comes back to haunt her.
The Forest of Vanishing Stars is the type of historical fiction that makes you roll your eyes with how unrealistic it is. As a heroine, Yona was completely unbelievable, a girl with no character flaws but who was expertly taught in all matters – languages, medicine, religion, etc. – despite growing up in near isolation in the woods. In all, Harmel’s latest is an over-the-top story that steals its best moments from inspiring real events without adding enough strength into her fictional narrative to bring it all together.
After being stolen from her wealthy German parents and raised in the unforgiving wilderness of eastern Europe, a young woman finds herself alone in 1941 after her kidnapper dies. Her solitary existence is interrupted, however, when she happens upon a group of Jews fleeing the Nazi terror. Stunned to learn what’s happening in the outside world, she vows to teach the group all she can about surviving in the forest—and in turn, they teach her some surprising lessons about opening her heart after years of isolation. But when she is betrayed and escapes into a German-occupied village, her past and present come together in a shocking collision that could change everything.
About Kristin Harmel
Kristin Harmel is the author of a dozen novels including The Book of Lost Names, The Forest of Vanishing Stars, The Winemaker’s Wife, The Room on Rue Amélie, The Paris Daughter, and The Sweetness of Forgetting. She is also the cofounder and cohost of the popular web series, Friends and Fiction. She currently lives in Orlando, Florida. Visit the author’s website →