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Sisters of War

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A dark shadow is about to fall over the golden cupolas of Kiev…

As the Red Army retreats in the face of Hitler’s relentless advance across Eastern Europe, the lives of sisters Natasha and Lisa are about to change forever.

While Lisa’s plans to marry her childhood sweetheart turn to tragedy under the occupation, Natasha grows close to Mark, a Hungarian soldier, enlisted against all his principles on the side of the Nazis.

But as Natasha fights for the survival of the friends and family she loves, the war threatens to tear them apart.

Sisters of War is a powerful tale of love, loss, and the power of hope set in Kiev during the Second World War.

365 pages, Paperback

First published January 8, 2016

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About the author

Lana Kortchik

4 books409 followers
Lana Kortchik grew up in two opposite corners of the Soviet Union – the snow-white Siberian town of Tomsk and the golden-domed Ukrainian capital, Kyiv. At the age of sixteen, she moved to Australia with her mother. Lana and her family live on the Central Coast of NSW, where it never snows and is always summer-warm.

Lana studied IT at university and, as a student, wrote poetry in Russian that she hid from everyone. For over a decade after graduating, she worked as a computer programmer. When she returned to university to complete her history degree, her favourite lecturer encouraged her to write fiction. She hasn’t looked back, and never goes anywhere without her favourite pen because you never know when the inspiration might strike.

Lana’s short stories appeared in many magazines and anthologies, and she was the winner of the Historical Novel Society Autumn 2012 Short Fiction competition. She is the author of USA Today bestsellers Sisters of War and Daughters of the Resistance, published by HQ Stories, an imprint of Harper Collins UK.

Lana also writes psychological thrillers under the pen name of Lana Newton.

To find out more, please visit http://www.lanakortchik.com.

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/lanakortchik
Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/lanakortchik

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5 stars
1,178 (39%)
4 stars
1,102 (37%)
3 stars
509 (17%)
2 stars
127 (4%)
1 star
34 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 329 reviews
Profile Image for Thomas.
712 reviews172 followers
September 9, 2020
4 stars for a story of a family in occupied Ukraine during WWII. This is a book about hardship, loss and a rift between family members caused by decisions that result in death. Natasha and Lisa are sisters living in Kiev, Ukraine. A German soldier shoots their Grandmother while she is protecting Natasha from the soldier about to rape Natasha. He is about to shoot Natasha when a Hungarian soldier shoots the German soldier.
Mark, the Hungarian soldier and Natasha fall in love. But Natasha does not tell anyone in her family, because the Germans will kill Mark if they find out. German reprisals cause the rift between Lisa and Natasha. If you enjoyed The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah , you will enjoy this book also.
Two quotes: Initial occupation of Kiev, Sept., 1941: "But even with her back turned, she could still see a dark cloud hanging over Kiev. A dark cloud seemed to swallow the entire city whole. There was nothing left, not even a glimmer of hope."
Jews going to their death at Babi Yar: "Rumour or not, the condemned kept walking. The doomed procession was a terrifying sight. Poor lost souls ambled past Natasha's window, heads bent, eyes dull, feet dragging, with N**i guns pointed at them. As she watched the horrific river trickle towards Babi Yar-- the human river that, far from diminishing, had grown to almost twice its original size-- her every bone, her every vein was chilled."
#SistersofWar #NetGalley
Thanks to HarperCollins for sending me this eARC through NetGalley
Profile Image for Jessica.
324 reviews362 followers
September 25, 2020
4.5 Stars

Sisters of War by Lana Kortchik is a FANTASTIC historical fiction novel. I loved it so much. World War II is my favorite time period to read.

Sisters of War is about World War II in Kiev. The story spans from the Nazis entering Kiev until the end of the war. This was the first book I read about Kiev during World War II. I love reading unique stories from World War II and this was unique.

Full review: https://justreadingjess.wordpress.com...
Profile Image for catherine ♡.
1,153 reviews150 followers
April 9, 2017
*Thank you to the author for providing me a free e-copy in exchange for an honest review!*

Actual Rating: 5

I am absolutely speechless - this book was amazing.

Savaged Lands follows Natasha Smirnova during World War II. Despite Stalin's promises to protect the Ukrainian capital, Hitler is rapidly gaining power and Natasha's peaceful world is shattered. In the midst of so much pain and danger, Natasha meets Mark, a Hungarian soldier fighting against the Red Army, but their relationship will have dire consequences if they are discovered. As the war continues destroying everything she has ever known, Natasha can do nothing but hope.

This book was absolutely beautiful. The plot was heartwrenching and realistic, and the portrayal of love and loss really brought tears to my eyes. For someone who was never really a fan of historical fiction, this book is going to go down on my list as one of my favourites. Everything that happened seemed to open my eyes further into a world in the midst of war, and I thought that the love story was beautifully incorporated. The delicate balance between romance, family, and historical fiction was harmonized extremely well, and in the end, Savaged Lands was a story about all types of love.

The characters were so three-dimensional. Each and every character had good and bad aspects to them - like how real people are. It is so easy to separate people into villain and victim and generalize groups of people based on the actions of a select few, but this book talked about how important it was to remember that everything is not so black and white.
"There are Nazis and there are Germans. Big difference," replied Grandfather, his voice nothing but a hushed murmur in the shady room.

This was definitely one of my favorite moments in the book, and I can't stress how much this still applies today. The relationship between Natasha and Mark would be complicated of course, and I thought their story was so beautiful and realistic - there were people who looked down on them, and people who supported them no matter what, and all these different dynamics between characters only accentuated the struggles they had to face in order to be together during such a dark time.

The main character was extremely likable and relatable as well - one thing I really respect about Natasha is that she does not read like cliche heroines; there's none of that "heroic savior" vibe about her. What we actually get is a realistic character that is a hero only in her own book - her compassion was what made her special and allowed her to be strong, and the fact that she was so determined to live and love was what made her a hero on her own terms.

Like I've said before, this is not just a love story. There are so many other factors to take into account, and the author's beautiful writing definitely pulled me in and allowed me to feel the pain and happiness that everyone was feeling.

Overall, this is a book that I would recommend to everyone - it was such a beautiful journey, and I would definitely revisit it again.
Profile Image for Heather Osborne.
Author 32 books116 followers
August 13, 2016
I am a big fan of Holocaust/WWII Europe era novels, as many of you know. This was a first for me, as I had not read anything about the Nazi occupation of Kiev, and parts of the Soviet Union, in a fictional sense.

Once I started reading Savaged Lands, I was hooked. Natasha's life was fraught with uncertainty, and yet, she still clung to the hope the German occupation would end. Miss Kortchik takes the reader on a whirlwind journey, full of emotions; loss, love, and faith, in this well-researched novel. I really don't want to say more, but this is certainly not a novel to miss for historical fiction/romance fans.

I received a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Sharon Laker.
Author 1 book8 followers
May 20, 2016
Savaged Lands by Lana Kortchik.
How does one find the words to describe something so special, so wonderful, I don't know.
Lana Kortchik's book "Savaged Lands" is a story about a family called the Smirnous who lived in Kiev during WWII when the Nazi's occupied their city.
"Wait and Hope" was all the family could do as they lost friends and family members. This story has many surprising twists to it. When you think things couldn't get any worst for this family it does, time and time again.

I didn't want this story to end it's one of those books you hold close to your heart and don't want to let go. By the time I got to the last page I felt I knew these wonderful characters well. Lana talks of such tragedy, hard times, loss, betrayal, sorrow, love and happiness with such class and sophistication for one so young, she left me speechless and wanting more.
Such woe was there in this story, but such love, it will melt you.

Sharon Laker
Profile Image for Erin.
2,886 reviews488 followers
November 25, 2018
2.75 stars
Kiev, 1941. Natasha Smirnov and her family witness the arrival of German soldiers in their city and it isn't too long until the citizens see the consequences of war. Most of the story is a love story as Natasha falls in love with a Hungarian soldier named Mark. When Natasha and her brother, Nikolai find an unconscious Red Army soldier named Yuri, the family finds themselves working against the Nazis and Natasha finds herself torn between two men fighting on opposite sides.

I read this book in a matter of hours but I felt more interested by the author's note than the whole love triangle.

Thanks to Netgalley for an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for J.L. Leslie.
Author 61 books657 followers
July 12, 2016
There is so much I want to say about this book, but honestly words can't describe the way I feel about it. I also don't want to give any spoilers. It was heart-breaking, but heart-mending all at the same time. I cried, smiled, gasped, and laughed while reading this book. It will stay with me long after I've finished it. It was heart-wrenching to read what the Smirnova family went through...suffered. It felt like I was reading a true story of Natasha Smirnova. It was like I was reading about her life. The entire book I was hanging on the edge of my seat wanting to know what would happen with the forbidden relationship between Natasha and Mark. With all the devastation happening, I really wanted something good to happen. A psychic predicted in the book, Natasha would marry a man with blonde hair and green eyes...this did not fit Mark's description. This kept me hanging on the edge of my seat even more. There is a lot of sadness and devastation in this book, but there is love too. I still wanted answers at the end...it wasn't a cliffhanger at all, but if you read it, you'll know what I mean. Excellent writing and love story. Grab your tissues...

*I was provided a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.*
Profile Image for Cheryl.
962 reviews100 followers
June 13, 2020
Sisters of War is set in Ukraine during World War II. Natasha and her sister, Lisa, are two sisters whose lives are irrevocably changed by events beyond their control.

The story quickly becomes more of Natasha’s story. She falls in love with a Hungarian soldier who is part of the Nazi occupation force in Kiev. Their relationship effects Natasha’s entire family. Tension between the two sisters builds with devastating consequences.

The deprivation and hardship as a result of the war is vividly depicted.

Parts of the story, at least for me, required a stretch of the imagination. Everything seemed to lead to a tidy conclusion. It was a good story, but a little too long as well.

Thank you to Harper Collins publishers, author Lana Kortchik, and NetGalley for giving me the opportunity to read this novel.
Profile Image for L.N. Denison.
Author 5 books198 followers
October 21, 2016
I went into this book knowing that it was going to be a dark, foreboding read. How could it not be with the subject matter used. Savaged lands tells the story of one family's struggle during the German occupation of Kiev from 1941 to 1943. It revolves around one person in particular, Natasha Smirnov(a), a 19 year old woman, who does everything she can, to keep her family alive during the desperate times, with a little help from Mark, the Hungarian soldier that saved her life, but at the same time risked his own in the process. The betrayals, the heartache, the not knowing...all within the family unit, happen as a means to survive.

It isn't very often you find a book that touches on Russia's story during World War 2, and the atrocities the Russian people suffered under the hands of the Nazi's, and for what it's worth, this story is very well told, and the attention to every little detail is well executed. The author certainly did her research well.

I would say that this book was a highly emotional read, as I found myself shedding tears at both the low and the high points of the story, some scenes more than others. Natasha and her family faced one disaster after another throughout the book, but the remainder managed to pull through. You will find yourself rooting for this family to survive.

If you like World War 2 based novels, I really do recommend this one highly. I really enjoyed this read, even though it was dark through pretty much the whole story, with tiny little teasers of light at the end of the tunnel.

I have given this book a well deserved 5* rating, and look forward to what the author comes up with next.

Profile Image for Nursebookie.
1,993 reviews305 followers
September 23, 2020
I love reading historical fiction set during WWII. This time, the story is set in Kiev, Ukraine around three months after Hitler attacked the Soviet Union - September 1941. The occupation that lasted a little over two years caused Kievans nightmarish terror and suffering, hunger and difficulties, prosecution and death. I was completely captivated right from the first page with the rich and detailed descriptions of the daily lives of the people in Kiev - as they live in fear, full of anxiety and unease.

Kortchik's writing was immersive, touching and truly captivating. I was drawn into the story and felt every pain suffered by the sisters and their family. What people have gone through were harrowing as they suffer through Hitler's evil. Though difficult, I found the story hopeful as well, and I really enjoyed this captivating read.

I highly recommend this book for fans of The Tattooist of Auschwitz, The Nightingale and The Lost Girls of Paris. A wonderful read not to be missed.
Profile Image for Dianne.
1,540 reviews120 followers
September 13, 2020
The positive reviews that this book got have me a bit confused. It was one of the most depressing books about war that I have ever read. That means it was certainly one of the most realistic portrayals of war I have ever read. Kudos to the author on that aspect.

However, the love story and the Disney-esque endings to the different threads of the story were absurd and the relationships between the sisters didn't really ring true.

This is a re-print and at .99 cents (Amazon on Kindle) price makes this a bargain just to read the descriptions of what life was like in Kiev (Kyiv) during this time.

*ARC supplied by the publisher.
Profile Image for Alexa.
344 reviews11 followers
March 8, 2017
I am not sure why the rating on this book is 4.39. At first I thought it was a YA book and I didn't realize it - but it's not.

The writing is very unsophisticated and it feels like there was no editor giving feedback. It reads very much like someone's first unpolished novel that wasn't beta'd.

The concept of the story is interesting, but it needs work (especially the syrupy sweet love scenes with Natasha and Mark that seem to ramble on forever). I feel a little duped by the rating.
24 reviews1 follower
January 7, 2019
First book of the year finished and oh my what a cracking start. This book was WONDERFUL!!
I happened to randomly see this advertised on Twitter and thought it looked pretty interesting so I organised the delivery of it to my kindle! It's a story set in WW2 but for a change, it was set in Kiev. You don't get too many stories set behind the Iron Curtain, for obvious reasons, the most notable being Follett's Centuries trilogy and I didn't really know what to expect but by about 10% in I was gripped.
It's a tough read if you're not used to reading about the atrocities of this time period, well it's a tough read even if you are, but I think the author has done a great job of balancing that with a truely gorgeous love story. It was beautifully written and I think it's one of the best books I've ever read. Not bad for a random purchase!
Profile Image for Molly.
347 reviews12 followers
December 20, 2018
This was a letdown, I went into it thinking I'd get a solid story, but instead all I got was a lot of high drama and talking and not much else.

I don't know if this book is intended to be YA or not? I can't see it saying that it is anywhere but man this read very YA to me and not in a good way. Don't get me wrong, I like YA books but this did not do it for me at all.

The characters are all pretty simple and never really do much in the way of growth or being interesting. Lana was very bland to me and her sister, Lisa was just an annoying pain in the head for the bulk of the book.
The love interest is blah, the family is blah and all that means is that when bad things happen it doesn't really make an impact and considering the events that are going on during the book, the bad things happening should make you feel something.

All I felt was bored.
Profile Image for Andie Newton.
Author 4 books154 followers
August 20, 2019
The Story of Us is a moving tale of love and loss set during WWII in Nazi occupied Kiev. Mrs. Kortchik takes us into the lives of ordinary Kievans, and we see and experience their troubles. Yet through it all, there is hope. I’m always fascinated with how the war affected the lives of ordinary people, and the author does not disappoint. A scene that stayed with me was when Natasha's mother struggled over whether to go hungry or to eat the bread a Nazi soldier had left them. If you love historical fiction, particularly stories set during WWII, you will love The Story of Us.
Profile Image for Katrina king.
1 review
February 24, 2020
OMG don’t know where I found this book but was so intrigued from start as my father was Ukrainian born 1911 from same towns mentioned in book , found himself marched out of his village by the Germans - eventually in an Italian prisoner of war camp then shipped to England after the war . What hardships he must of gone through in those days - most never spoke of .!!!! So interesting And sad for me ... must show my sister
Profile Image for Carla .
54 reviews
February 16, 2021
Too inconsistent for me. For example, the characters are in 15 degree below zero temperature and they are strolling home. The author describes how they have no food - yet when a visitor arrives they are offered lunch. So much of the description just did not make sense. This inconsistency was throughout the story. Not for me. The little details are too important.
Profile Image for Amy.
803 reviews16 followers
August 27, 2020
Love, loss and heartbreak descend upon sisters Lisa and Natasha Smirnova as German soldiers march into Kiev. Lisa and Natasha's world is shattered during the city's occupation and by the secrets they keep.

Lana Kortchik pens a heart-breaking tale about a lesser-known chapter in history when German forces occupied Ukraine. In order to survive, the sisters find themselves at war and their decisions threaten to tear their family apart.

Thank you to #NetGalley and the publisher for the early edition of #SistersofWar in exchange for an honest review. Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres and Kortchik pens a well-researched novel. That being said, I felt the ending missed its mark. For a story that readers eagerly awaited its resolution, we weren't able to revel in the aftermath or cherish that time with the characters. I had to go back and read the final chapter a second time to find closure. Due to the abrupt ending , I rated the novel 3.5 instead of 4 stars.
Profile Image for Harry Fox.
Author 9 books128 followers
May 12, 2016
Jewel of a Novel

This is an absolutely gripping tale of love, tragedy, pain, and courage in the face of the Nazi occupation of Kiev, Ukraine, during World War II. The focus is on Natasha Smirnova, an ethnic Russian whose family lived in that devastated city during those desperate times. It is a romance story, and Natasha falls in love with a Hungarian soldier named Mark, who is forced to fight on the side of the Germans.
The author, Lana Kortchik, has done her homework, and it shows. Her writing style is crisp and vivid, and she give us dialogue that jumps off the page. I rarely see writing of this quality, and the book was a pleasure to read. Though the subject matter is difficult and heart-wrenching, the final message is one of hope and the triumph of the human spirit. The characters seem to be real people, with complex personalities.
I liked how she showed that not all the occupying forces were heartless brutes, though most of them were exactly that. She does not dwell on the unspeakable tragedy of the slaughter of Kiev’s Jewish population, but she does not shrink from mentioning it, either.
This is a jewel of a novel. The editing is very good, and the final denouement is worth waiting for. I would give six stars if that were an option.
Profile Image for Alona.
670 reviews12 followers
June 26, 2017
I tried so much to love this book, but I just couldn't.
*spoilers ahead. Stop here if you want to read the book*

It started out okay, though I thought Natasha was portrayed as too naive and angelic to be 100% realistic. But I convinced myself that stories about true heroes of this war are indeed happened to ppl leaving through this war, and I loved their stories of selflessness and how it helped them survive the war.
But then, all of a sudden, Natasha turned out to be bitter, unhappy and so selfish, that I just couldn't stand her anymore, (the way she treated Yuri was sickening!) and honestly considered to DNF it @85%.
It was as if a different author wrote the third part of this book.
It also felt at times, to me at least, too much in the spirit of The Bronze Horsemen, but didn't come nearly as close to be as good as TBH.
47 reviews
March 9, 2019
No recommendation

The only redeeming quality of this book is learning some additional facts about how the Russian's handled Germany's takeover of Kiev, how the German soldiers handled the realization they were fighting a losing battle, and occasional heroics and cruelty on both sides. Otherwise it was too "sappy" for me. Other authors have done better with similar storylines.
Profile Image for The Book Distiller.
484 reviews27 followers
May 22, 2021
Absolutely fantastic. I loved learning about this aspect of history, and while this was an utterly heart-wrenching novel, the writing completely drew the reader into the story. This book will stick with me for a long time.
Profile Image for Desiree.
456 reviews15 followers
September 13, 2020
Oh my gosh, I was literally CRYING through the last 20 pages of this book! The ending simply pulled out all the stops, leaving me so bittersweetly content about finishing this novel. It’s funny too, because up until the end, the book had been tracking at a 3-star for me as “liked it”, but didn’t quite pop over to 4-star “really liked it”. I’ll do my fellow readers the courtesy of not ruining the ending by mentioning just why I cried through the end, but I will say that the conclusion of “Sisters of War” added that something extra I was looking for and is definitely worth adding an extra star.

*A big thank you to Lana Kortchik, HarperCollins Publishers/HQ Digital, and NetGalley for providing a free Advanced Reader Copy in exchange for this honest review.*

“Sisters of War” is a good, solid tale that I enjoyed. The characters feel very real and believable – in fact there is one in particular for whom I’m still feeling badly, even now – several hours after finishing the novel. The setting for this book was interesting as well. The majority of WWII novels I’ve come across take place in England or France or sometimes the U.S. This one takes place in Kiev, Ukraine, and is written by an author who actually grew up in Ukraine and Russia until moving to Australia as a preteen. The authenticity of Lana Kortchik’s writing, based on personal and family knowledge of that part of the world distinctly shines through. Kortchik also read dozens of memoirs and diaries of the Kiev survivors in preparation for the novel – true stories written by women who put their lives at risk documenting the Germans’ activities, which gave the storylines a strong factual base.

The story in “Sisters of War” starts out in the early 1940’s in Kiev, which has been under Soviet rule for over 20 years. Germans have been bombing the city and eventually bring Kiev under Nazi occupation, not leaving for over two years when the Soviet Red Army finally frees the city. The slice of time Kortchik chose for her novel framed the events well, making for an impactful read. As you can imagine with a WWII tale, there are many losses and heartbreaking experiences, but there is also love and hope, new life, and the indomitable spirit of the Ukrainian people. As our heroine Natasha reflects, “(T)heir lives… would forever be touched by war, but not broken. Never broken.”

Profile Image for The Scribblings.
92 reviews32 followers
July 24, 2017
Natasha Smirnova’s life is changed irrevocably the day Hitler’s forces march into Kiev. As the city is occupied and the German troops begin their stranglehold, the Smirnova family is repeatedly torn apart; by death, by imprisonment, even by a budding romance.

Savaged Lands follows Natasha’s life as she struggles to hold her family together throughout the German occupation. She watches as the German troops march in, as they begin enforcing their new rules and the city begins to change around her. Those close to her are gradually whittled away, either due to dissent, German policy or simply by the choices they make in order to survive. The sense of potential doom hangs over her every day.

But there are lighter moments, as well. Her chance encounter with a Hungarian soldier conscripted into the German occupation swiftly blossoms into a love affair that shapes the rest of her life. The moments they manage to steal away and be together are among the lightest and most hopeful in the book.

Obviously, anything related to the Second World War is not going to be an easy read and there are moments where the full horror of what happened is hinted at. But, for the most part, things are kept at a personal level. That is traumatic enough.

Since the focus is on the Smirnova family, the emotions of the family members feature very strongly. Some withdraw and become embittered while others cling to the hope that they will be saved. As the war drags on, they find themselves changing to cope with their new reality. These emotional developments never feel forced and add an extra layer of reality to what is already a very strong story-line.

All in all, Savaged Lands is a very good novel exploring the joys of a new relationship, the horrors of surviving a Nazi occupation, the will to survive and keep believing in hope.
Profile Image for Shirley McAllister.
975 reviews120 followers
August 26, 2020
A War Torn Family

This was a very emotional and heartbreaking read. If I could give this book 6 stars I would. Once I started reading I wanted to read to the end. What a wonderful story of a families courage, love and survival in a hostile environment.

Natasha and Lisa are two sisters in Kiev Ukraine. When the war starts events take place which put a wedge between these two inseparable sisters. With their older brother away fighting and the arrest of their father by the Gestapo the Mother and younger brother are caught between the two sisters in an emotional struggle.

What comes next is so sad and heartbreaking as the family is persecuted by the Nazi army, friends, family and loved ones are lost to the war. The city of Kiev is under attack and burning. Every day they face fear, hunger and violence.

This book was different because it was a WWII book set in Ukraine. The Russian people were being invaded by the Nazi German's. All the Jewish people in Ukraine were being eliminated and the Ukrainians were treated very badly. The German Army stole their homes, their food and their jobs. They were left with nothing, yet they still survived.

The atmosphere was tense and troubling. Neighbors and friends would denounce anyone for a crust of bread. Gold, Silver, Clothing all was sold for just a small amount of food. Times were dire and the people were in distress.

Why it is such a great story is that this family , through all the events, never lost their love for each other, their love of literature, and their ability to love and care for other's. I would definitely recommend this book.

Thanks to Lana Kortchik, HarperCollins Publishers, and NetGalley for allowing me to read an advanced copy in return for an honest review.
Profile Image for Sally.
19 reviews
August 7, 2016
I received a free copy of this book to review. However, the following review is my honest opinion.

Stalin would protect them. The Soviet Union would never fall. That is what Natasha wants to believe. And she does–until the Nazis march into Kiev to eat all their food, squat in their homes and generally lay waste to the Ukranian capital.

Being a feisty old lady (old ladies are the scariest people, I swear), Natasha’s grandmother decides to take a stand against a Nazi soldier. Bad idea. Pissed off, the German is about to kill them both when he is shot to death before their eyes. By a soldier. A Hungarian soldier named Mark.

Natasha is stunned by this act of kindness from someone who is supposed to be an enemy. The more she gets to know Mark, the more she realises how good and kind he is. In her head, she knows she can’t afford to get too close, but that doesn’t stop her pulse from racing whenever they meet.

When Soviet women seen fraternising with Germans are stoned by their own people, Natasha knows she’s risking a lot more than just a broken heart. And when her neighbours start disappearing, she wonders if she and her family can even stay alive.

The Writing: 7.5/10

"The wait was finally over. The enemy was no longer at the gates. Surrounded by crowds of confused men, women and children and accompanied by barking dogs, the enemy were right there, inside their city, their grey uniforms a perfect fit, their green helmets sparkling, their moterbikes roaring, their footsteps echoing in the tranquil autumn air.

It was Friday, the ninteenth of September, 1941." – Lana Kortchik, Savaged Lands

Savaged Lands is a historical romance narrated in third person by Natasha. If there is such a thing as a light romance, I would say this is it. This doesn’t have the slow, heady burn of a historical romance spanning years. Instead, Natasha and Mark moments are sweet and desperate. (And sometimes a little corny.) But I guess sweet and desperate is what you get when there’s a war going on.

This is an adult book, but the content isn’t so graphic that I’d tell older YA readers to shy away from it. Certainly, I’ve read more graphic young adult books. Ones with more disturbing love affairs too.

The tone is powerful, touching, haunting and devastating. Where appropriate, of course. There are a few quirks and stumbles when it comes to writing: a few awkward phrases here and there, a few extraneous words. No biggie. There is an odd stylistic choice made: the (somewhat-but-not-super-explicit) love scenes are in present tense, while the rest of the book is in past tense. This choice disconnects the scene from the rest of the book, so it felt distinctly odd to read.

This novel starts off slowly, but once the Germans set foot in Kiev, it really gets going. The pacing (after the Germans arrive) is great. Even though the novel spans several years, it seems neither hurried nor slow.

Though it seems odd to say this of a relatively short book, the world building and characterisation are impeccable. The characterisation is subtle, bringing the characters to life gradually and naturally. And to life they came. The characters are passionate, scared, selfish, playful, and are round like real people tend to be. Some of the side characters could have used more work, but thus is the fate of side characters.

The world is so well-crafted, I could smell the smoke from the bombed out residences. I could feel the muddy snow, turned to ice overnight, crunching under my feet. I could feel the characters’ fear, despair, their desperate yearning for hope. And I could see their glassy, hopeless eyes as they sat, begging for scraps, on the side of the street.

This novel is well-researched and brings everything a historical novel needs.

My Rating: 9/10

This is a really special book. I know there are lots of stories based on WW2, but the story of Natasha and her family really touches my heart. The world and the characters drew me in; they were so real, I was practically there. This was all done without delving too far into the gruesome details too, which is a plus for those of us who don’t want to read about detailed gore.The writing quirks did throw me off once or twice, but they weren’t anything major. The writing gets progressively better as you go along; once you tough it out for the first few pages, you’re golden.

I loved the fact that this book was about the entire family, not just some girl and her love story. I mean, love stories are great and all, but the way her family reacts to the events and their individual coping mechanisms are captivating.

This novel didn’t make me cry, but I was holding my breath when the Germans issued orders to gather the Jewish population. And when the Jews politely complied, I wanted to take them by the shoulders and shake them hard, yelling, “It’s a trap!”

A final, barely on-topic note: I am so happy that the measurements were in the metric system. I actually knew how cold it was when they said -20 C.

Conclusion: Savaged Lands is a beautifully crafted, well-researched war story that will touch your heart. If you’re into that sort of thing, why aren’t you reading it now? No, seriously. Go read it now.

Find more reviews like this on my blog: https://quillsandroses.wordpress.com/
Profile Image for Amy Specht.
92 reviews3 followers
December 30, 2020
4.5 stars.
I really enjoyed this book and read it quite quickly. It is very sad for the most part but ironically the ending was almost too happy if that makes sense. I liked that it was a happy ending but I feel like in that era the outcomes wouldn’t be that great.
I’m impressed that this was her first novel. I can’t wait to see what else she will write and how she will improve.
One thing that didn’t really make sense to me though, was the name of the novel. I think I gathered from the title that it would be a story about two sisters and how they survived but it was more the story of just the one sister with a small side story of the other sister. But that’s ok, it was still a great read. :)
Profile Image for Danielle Urban.
Author 15 books136 followers
August 14, 2020
Sisters of War by Lana Kortchik is a fascinating WWII novel. I was deeply immersed inside of this book. From the first page to the last, my attention was hooked. I felt the time period come alive among the pages. The intensity of the war and all the fears it caused were felt. I wanted to save all the characters. This book was focused in the Soviet Union. The people thought they would be safe from Hitler. Then, the cities around them fell to the Nazis and so did their city. The horror of it all was relived in this book. I cried so much. Pain, loss, danger, and hope were mixed together in every scene. The main characters were taking the situation in a day-by-day process. Thinking about the future...was too much to hope for, if they all made it alive. Families were torn apart, friends were separated, innocent people shot and killed for no reason at all. Betrayal, secrets, and love all could be found in the impressive novel. I enjoyed this historical journey and recommend it to all readers.

I received this copy from the publisher. This is my voluntary review.
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