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The Bone Church

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  506 ratings  ·  106 reviews
In the surreal and paranoid underworld of wartime Prague, fugitive lovers Felix Andel and Magdalena Ruza make some dubious alliances – with a mysterious Roman Catholic cardinal, a reckless sculptor intent on making a big political statement, and a gypsy with a risky sex life. As one by one their chances for fleeing the country collapse, the two join a plot to assassinate H ...more
Paperback, First, 308 pages
Published April 15th 2014 by Pier's Court Press (first published April 13th 2014)
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Average rating 3.73  · 
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I received this book as a digital ARC from the publisher through Net Galley in return for an honest review.

This book is made by a double plot: the first one occurs in 1956 where there is a rescue mission in order to get a woman out of the Czech Republic with the aid of the Vatican; the second one is set in German occupied Moravia and Prague.

The bone church which gives the tittle for this book is the Church of All Saints which is a small Roman Catholic chapel located in Sedlec, a suburb of Kutná
John Dolan
Apr 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing

'The Bone Church' by Victoria Dougherty is a beautifully crafted piece of fiction. Set largely in and around Prague, the narrative alternates between the time of the Nazi occupation and specific events in 1956 when Czechoslovakia was under the heel of the Soviets. The central concept deals with the lengths people will go to in order to survive in an inhuman landscape.

The writing is spare and tense, with an authentic Eastern European feel. The Sword of Damocles ha
Cold War Conversations Podcast

An unusual but rewarding book.

At first glance The Bone Church by Victoria Dougherty appears to be a straightforward thriller set during the dark, paranoid and vicious days of 1956 and World War 2 Czechoslovakia.

However, the book is more profound and complex than that, covering a wide range of emotions as well as the nature of loyalty and friendship.

Some of the book has an almost dreamlike quality and there’s some great use of language making some of the sentences worth re-reading again and a
Oct 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own
To everyone who reads this book and wants to give up, I get it. I quickly read the first 7% only to be confused and I set it aside to return, as I respect this author and the story behind how this book came to be written.
I returned to the book again at the beginning of the month and read it again from the start. Once I read the first fifth of the book I was in to it, and wanted to read it quickly to the end.
Why is this; I read reviews where readers are switched off and lose the plot literally. B
Disclaimer: ARC via Netgalley

This is a World War II novel without the use of a camp or a ghetto, even though two of the characters are trying to escape because they are Jewish or part Jewish.

And it isn’t about trying to escape the Nazis, but the communists (Soviet puppets really) that took power in Czechoslovakia following the Second World War. It isn’t simply Felix’s attempted assassination of a Nazi official. Afterwards, it is a struggle to reunite families and friends, something that is usu
Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede
May 16, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: read-2014
I should probably have thrown in the towel when the story stopped working for me and I was forcing myself to continue reading the book. But no, this was a netgalley book and I was going to finish it. This is the last time I think so, next time when the book fails me I will just stop and read something else instead of suffering through I book that is clearly not meant for me.

The Bone Church follows two separate story lines, WW2 in Prague and after the war several years later; unfortunately it ju
Simon Okill
May 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The Bone Church by Victoria Dougherty is a sumptuous cross-examination of the human condition and reminded this reader of the later work of Alistair MacLean. There are two story lines brilliantly interwoven describing the lives of Magdalena and Felix. We have the Cold War of 1956 in Czechoslovakia and the Nazi occupation of that country during WWII. Both occupying forces showed a callous resentment to Jews and Gypsies and it is here the author excels at delving into the human psyche.
This reader
Steph Campbell
Mar 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
I won this a few months back in a giveaway- I've previously been quite concerned when reading historical fiction as my knowledge is a bit limited, but was thrilled when I learned this was set in a period I know quite a bit about, having just finished my Modern History GCSE. The plot sounded so interesting after learning so much about propaganda throughout Nazi Germany and the surrounding areas during WWII, and it did not disappoint- a plot to assassinate Joseph Goebbels, no less.
I loved reading
Christoph Fischer
“The Bone Church” by Victoria Dougherty is a gripping and atmospheric historical thriller that intelligently weaves two narratives into one another: One is set in 1956 and involves a rescue mission to get a woman out of Czechoslovakia, aided by the Vatican while another plot line is set in German-occupied Moravia and Prague during WW2.
Both plots involve Magdalena, a Jewish woman, and her gentile husband Felix, under-ground hiding and resistance fighters, an assassination plot. The suspense will
Yzabel Ginsberg
(I got a copy through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.)

I wanted a change of pace with this book; I seldom read Cold War era fiction, which is definitely something I should remedy to. In a way, I got that, and something else, too.

The novel weaves two timelines, 1943-44 and 1956, that end up meeting each other, bringing loose threads together. The author always provided time and location, so keeping track of what happened when wasn't too hard. I found the beginning of the story a littl
The Lit Bitch
Jul 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a gritty, non-stop, fast paced, action filled historic thriller. Both the setting and theme of the novel were dark with a touch of paranoia, but to balance that heavy load of reading were the main characters. Both Felix and Magdalena were like beacons of light in a very dark and paranoid world. Both were strong and I admired their resilience.

The characters (primary and even secondary) were all very well developed, unique, and interesting. I wanted to know more about them and where they c
I have to give this 2 stars because for me it was simply "ok." I think there was an interesting story of war and love to tell, but I did not care for how it was told. There were many things that confused me here. I'm not that familiar with Czechoslavakia's towns or history, nor had I ever heard of the Infant of Prague, but I believe the author assumed that I as a reader would already have such knowledge . (Thank heavens for Wikipedia!) I think the author assumed I would remember every physical d ...more
May 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
Find this and other reviews at: http://flashlightcommentary.blogspot....

Victoria Dougherty's The Bone Church is not an easy read. It hits the ground running and never lets up. Paired with decidedly heavy material and themes, the narrative is more than a little challenging, but that said, it is easily one of the best historical thrillers I've had fortune to come across.

Those who follow me know the WWII references in the description are what drew me to this piece, but it was Dougherty's applicatio
Hunter Jones
Apr 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The Bone Church by Victoria Dougherty is an historical thriller that skillfully weaves two stories into one. One story is set in 1956,a mission to smuggle a woman from Czechoslovakia, aided by the Vatican. The other story line is set in German-occupied Prague during World War II.Both plots involve Magdalena and Felix.

You will find espionage, freedom fighters and all manner of Cold War activity. So, pull up a chair, light a cigarette and get ready to be whisked away to another time and place. Th
Michael Schmicker
Apr 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
“The name’s Dougherty – Victoria Dougherty.”

And she’s come up with an erudite, neoclassic, Cold War thriller.

“The Bone Church” is set primarily in Nazi-occupied – and subsequently Soviet-occupied – Eastern Europe. The plot revolves around the Infant of Prague, a famous Catholic religious icon pursued for different reasons by the Czech Resistance and Nazi Propaganda Minister Josef Goebbels. The atmosphere is sour and gritty – ration coupons, coal smoke, greasy goulash. The story repeatedly time-
P.C. Zick
May 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The Bone Church by Victoria Dougherty, laced with suspenseful moments and supernatural whispers, places it in a unique category of historical fiction.

Set in Czechoslovakia between the years of 1943 to 1956, the characters are in constant danger, and one-step away from death throughout the entire book. Even when World War II ends, and Nazi Germany no longer controls the destiny of the Czech people, another world power brings another set of troubles to the Eastern European country. It’s not certa
May 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: d, 2014

In the surreal and paranoid underworld of wartime Prague, fugitive lovers Felix Andel and Magdalena Ruza make some dubious alliances – with a mysterious Roman Catholic cardinal, a reckless sculptor intent on making a big political statement, and a gypsy with a risky sex life. As one by one their chances for fleeing the country collapse, the two join a plot to assassinate Hitler’s nefarious Minister of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, Josef Goebbels.

But the assassination att
Travis Luedke
When long-time author friend Victoria Dougherty offered review copies of her debut novel The Bone Church, a historical WWII thriller, I said, "Over here please!"

Vic and I have chatted of many things, and found common ground in our love of Allen Furst, whose novel Red Gold was one of my research sources for my own writings on WWII Paris. If you've seen Victoria's phenomenal blog COLD, you'd know right away, this is an author well worth your time when she finally released her first book (and hopef
Toni Osborne
Jun 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
“The Bone Church” is one of those fascinating combination of historical exploration of real places and a deliciously dark tale of two fictional young people whose lives are impacted by death and by the Nazi’s. The harrowing content weaves beautifully two narratives set during WW11 and during the Cold War.

It is not an easy read and is a little challenging but I did not mind concentrating on the heavy material. It didn’t take long to be swept by a foray of themes that never lets up and be captivat
Michael Gallagher
May 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The Bone Church transcends the normal historical war story by delving into what can only be called “The Good Luck Lottery.” Why does one person survive in war while thousands of others perish?

Throughout my life I have been impressed by books interweaving any kind of unexplainable mysticism, often in the form of an other worldly figures such as Indians or gypsies. These figures act as guiding lights at significant turning points in the lives of important people in a book. Victoria Dougherty’s “T
Billy Chitwood
Mar 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing

5.0 out of 5 stars 'You Are There!' A review by Billy Ray Chitwood - May 18, 2014, May 18, 2014

By Billy Ray Chitwood "Billy Ray Chitwood" (Spencer, TN USA)

This review is from: The Bone Church: A Novel (Paperback Edition)

Walter Cronkite coined the phrase, 'You Are There', many years ago for his newscasts!

Reading "The Bone Church: A Novel" this reader's mind was a reel of film playing out dark and somber moments of war movies from my youth... One can read about Felix Andel, Magdalena Ruza, and the
Britt Skrabanek
Apr 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The dark underworld of Prague during WWII and the Cold War is brought to life by Victoria Dougherty in "The Bone Church". A novel that is not for the faint of heart, the story envelops the reader into a world of thievery, recklessness, courage, and survival.

Felix and Magdalena are star-crossed lovers thrown into the middle of darkness and destruction, trying desperately to be together and live a normal, happy life. But there are many forces at play and a battle of good versus evil ensues.

With m
May 21, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very much enjoyed her writing style, the characters, and the two gripping timelines. My only reason for giving this 4 stars instead of 5 is that the Bone Church -- while it is significant in the end of the story -- comes into play so late that I thought it was a little unfair to use that as the title. It did hook me into reading the book, however, and it was well worth reading.
Apr 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
Action packed with an intriguing plot, laced with colourful and memorable characters, including a hero you root for until the very end.

I am thankful to have received a free copy of this through Goodreads First reads
Aug 16, 2014 marked it as wierdness
Another book with a mysterious amount of Listopia votes. Wonder what all the hoopla is about this one.
Nov 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
While Bone Church is a fast paced, action filled historic thriller, it’s not an easy-read for one evening, forgotten by morning; Bone Church is the story demanding your full attention.
With suspense level at high, this story of war trapped and hunted love weaves two timelines, 1943-44 and 1956 in Czechoslovakia, meeting each other, bringing loose threads together. Author masterfully dives into the surreal and paranoid underworld of wartime Prague and Cold War era, when nothing is what it seems..
Alton Fletcher
Feb 23, 2019 rated it liked it
With great relish, I looked forward to reading The Bone Church, having read a good deal of non-fiction by the author. If you haven't read Cold, I highly recommend you do. But, I don't recommend so much this book, though I find myself wanting to. Parts of it shine like gems, especially when it comes to descriptive passages that are often lyrical, but they are obscured by a too-complicated, disjointed plot, uneven narrative, and characters that I just found it difficult to care much about because ...more
Colleen Turner
Jul 14, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I reviewed this book for

I should start out by saying The Bone Church deals with a part of history I know very little about. Weaving back and forth between 1944 and 1956 it takes place mainly in Czechoslovakia and sets as its backdrop the Nazi occupation (in the 1944 timeline) and later the heavy Soviet control of the country (in the 1956 timeline). Knowing so little about this time and place in history, much of the heavier political and social elements, while
Erin Al-Mehairi
Jun 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Reading The Bone Church has now cemented me as a Victoria Dougherty junkie! She writes a type of thriller I love, full of drama, intrigue, and historical stories of people who lived in occupied situations, both in WWII and in post-war situations all too soon forgotten in Eastern Europe. I'm very happy that learning about Victoria led me to her blog, Cold, and her beautiful posts, as well. I look forward to reading much more of her writing on her blog or elsewhere, as well as future novels.

So wha
Jul 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
This review originally appeared on my blog,


THE BONE CHURCH is my kind of historical fiction. Beautifully written with compelling characters, an intriguing, twisty plotline, and full of historical details. I love it when a book interests me enough in the subject matter to make me want to learn alllllll about what I’m reading. For example — Google “the Bone Church.” I bet the pictures you see will make you want to read this book, especially once I tell you there’s a very importan
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Victoria Dougherty is the author of The Bone Church, The Hungarian, Welcome to the Hotel Yalta, Savage Island, Breath, and Cold. She writes fiction, drama, and essays that revolve around lovers, killers, curses, and destinies.

Her work has been published or profiled in the New York Times, USA Today, The International Herald Tribune, and elsewhere.

Earlier in her career, while living in Prague, she c

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