When I think about World War II, it’s hard to imagine any other outcome than the Allies winning. But in The Darkest Hour, Tony Schumacher imagines theWhen I think about World War II, it’s hard to imagine any other outcome than the Allies winning. But in The Darkest Hour, Tony Schumacher imagines the opposite – that Germany invaded England, and continued their persecution of the Jewish people, using the British themselves to help ostracize, round up and deport them to the European continent. It’s a shocking, and difficult idea to accept, but The Darkest Hour is scarily convincing in it’s imagination.
John Rossett is the damaged hero – his family are dead, he himself suffered greatly during the war, and now he finds himself working for the SS. Outwardly he doesn’t believe that anything terrible is happening to the Jewish people he works to round up and deport back to the European continent, but he obviously has strong suspicions. Despite the fact he was a rather closed character, I found it very easy to like John Rossett. He still retains a strong sense of right and wrong, even if he doesn’t always act immediately on his feelings, and I really liked that he had doubts and changed his mind at certain times – it made him more human than if he had been completely sure and confident.
The Darkest Hour also delves into the idea that there would be a resistance in Britain as well, and it’s all very convincingly explained and written, even if some of the lines between right and wrong are also blurred by the resistance themselves.
My favourite part of The Darkest Hour however, was the relationship between Rossett and Jacob, the young Jewish boy he finds hiding in a house that has recently been emptied by the Nazis. As they spend more time together, their relationship grows stronger, and more is revealed about Rossett’s own past – I loved the layers that Schumacher had written into the characters.
Perhaps my one and only real issue with The Darkest Hour was there is a relationship formed between Rossett and another secondary character quite late in the book that felt a bit awkward and rushed. I didn’t quite feel their connection to each other, especially considering the risks that were being taken.
The pacing of The Darkest Hour is quite gradual. Schumacher spends a lot of time setting up the story, exploring various characters and scenarios, all whilst subtly ratcheting up the stakes for the characters and the pace of the plot. By the last quarter of the book, I was in full unputdownable mode, and it wasn’t a disappointment.
If an alternative history book sounds like your cup of tea, I can definitely recommend The Darkest Hour. It’s scarily convincing, with characters that it’s impossible not to care about, and a storyline that really made me think....more