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Book Beat – The Gathering Storm

Bodie and Brock Thoene have set the standard in historical fiction with their exquisite attention to history and engaging plots and characters, so I was thrilled to read their newest novel. The Gathering Storm is the first novel in the Zion Diaries series, but it stands alone.

The Gathering Storm introduces the Bittick family, missionaries serving in Germany before World War II. Young Loralai comes of age in the early days of Nazi Germany, torn between an adolescent crush on Eben Golah, a mysterious older man, and her affection for Varrick Kepler, a Jewish classmate. Loralai marries Varrick to help him escape Germany. In Belgium, their safety is again threatened by the German invasion in May 1940. Loralai escapes to England, where she finds new purpose in helping Jewish refugees.

The Thoenes’ attention to historical accuracy shines. The scenes where Loralai’s family flee Belgium by car, by foot, and by boat are thrilling and emotional. I was also struck by the plight of the Jewish refugees, who escaped tyranny in continental Europe only to find a surprising amount of prejudice in Britain. Those who love fiction set in World War II will find much to enjoy in this novel. However, there is a plot element which is mystical/supernatural. I found this element intriguing and based on biblical truths, but if you like your historical fiction straight, this might not appeal to you.

I’m very much looking forward to the next novels in this series.

4 Responses to “Book Beat – The Gathering Storm”

  1. Abigail

    I haven’t read any of the Thoenes’ novels myself, but I wanted to remark on how enjoyable it is to pick up a book set in a time period you have studied extensively and find that the author has actually taken the time to do the same. What with the Internet so handy these days, researching by reading history books seems to have largely gone out of fashion. Also, I found it interesting that Bodie and Brock Thoene worked with the theme of antisemitism in nations other than Germany; many people don’t realize what prejudice there was against Jews throughout Europe.

  2. Sarah Sundin

    Abigail – I agree. I usually hesitate to pick up a book set in WWII. A bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing 🙂 I’ve seen some glaring errors in fiction that could have been solved with just a little research. But not in the Thoenes’s book. I was also pleased to see the subject of anti-Semitism raised – it was a cancer throughout the west at the time, even in the US. One “good” thing about WWII is that it forever linked anti-Semitism with Hitler and the Nazis in the western mind, thus making it anathema to us.

  3. Abigail

    Indeed; there’s truth in the saying that ignorance is bliss!

    Out of curiosity, have you ever watched the British TV show “Foyle’s War”? They’re murder mysteries, but set during WWII. Seeing how much your writing deals with that time period reminded me of the series.

  4. Sarah Sundin

    Abigail – no, I haven’t seen it, but it’s been recommended by so many people, I’ll have to watch it.