My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Actual Rating: 5
*Thank you to the author for providing me a free e-copy in exchange for an honest review!*
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.