BookBrowse Reviews The Forest of Vanishing Stars by Kristin Harmel

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The Forest of Vanishing Stars

A Novel

by Kristin Harmel

The Forest of Vanishing Stars by Kristin Harmel X
The Forest of Vanishing Stars by Kristin Harmel
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  • Published:
    Jul 2021, 384 pages

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A young woman raised by her kidnapper in an eastern European forest becomes a hero of the Resistance in this moving World War II novel.

Kristin Harmel's historical novel The Forest of Vanishing Stars was very well-received by our First Impressions readers, who gave it an average rating of 4.6 out of 5 stars.

What it's about:

The Forest of Vanishing Stars is a captivating read. The book is about a young girl, Yona, who was kidnapped when she was a baby and raised by her kidnapper in the forest. Yona is taught everything she needs to know to live there and stay hidden. These skills become immensely important to the Jews who hide in the forest from the Nazis during World War II (Colleen L).

First Impressions reviewers felt The Book of Vanishing Stars is a unique entry in the crowded field of historical fiction about the Holocaust:

The story is told in such an interesting and unique way. Avid readers should read it for that reason alone. Kristin Harmel has made my list of favorite authors. I'm looking forward to her next book! (Maureen M). Beautifully written, well researched and inspired by incredible true stories. A great addition to my Holocaust library and highly recommended (Esther L). Although this is just one of the multitude of books I've read about WWII over the years, it was one that will not soon be forgotten (Freya H). This book is based on true stories of survival in the forests of eastern Europe during WWII. I have read many books that take place during this era but I'd never heard about some of the Jews escaping the ghettos and fleeing into the surrounding wilderness. The setting was unique and I'm surprised that it never occurred to me that there would be thousands driven into the forests (Rosemary S).

Many appreciated Harmel's strong, well-crafted protagonist:

The survival experiment is led by Yona, an unusual adolescent woman, abducted and raised without family or social ties, who seeks to overcome her personal fears. Her resilience and leadership instincts lead to a storyline with engaging twists and turns (Mary F). I highly recommend this book for readers who enjoy historical fiction, who want to learn more about WWII from a new perspective, and those who enjoy strong female lead characters (Stephanie Z). Yona was extraordinary. I rooted for her survival, her success in saving others and her happiness. Readers will undoubtedly join Yona's cheering club (Maureen M).

The book was praised by Kristin Harmel fans and those new to her work who plan on reading more:

I had read and appreciated three earlier books by Kristin Harmel, so I was expecting to also enjoy this book. However, The Forest of Vanishing Stars is so, so much more than I was expecting (Stephanie Z). Harmel writes a well-researched book with amazing detail for her characters and the period. I have had many a sleepless night reading her other books, and this one was no different (Susan H). I LOVE Harmel's writing. It is beautiful, lush, eloquent and gripping. It is so engaging that you want to race along to see what happens (Colleen L).

The book is highly recommended, especially for book clubs:

This extraordinary novel draws you in from the very first page. I believe The Forest of Vanishing Stars will appeal to history fans, book clubs and anyone who likes suspense. I thoroughly enjoyed it and highly recommend it (Laurette A). Applause to Kristin Harmel, this is one book that is extremely difficult to put down. I loved how she brought the characters in the story together to fight for survival. I believe this would be a great selection for a book club, as it will generate so many thoughts and opinions (Cheryl P).

This review is from the The Forest of Vanishing Stars. It first ran in the July 14, 2021 issue of BookBrowse Recommends.

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