Saturday, 20 November 2021

Emma's Review: From the Dark We Rise by Marion Kummerow

Reviewed by Emma Crowley

1942, Germany: When a young woman calling herself Annegret Huber unexpectedly inherits a huge fortune, including a house and factory just outside Berlin, her first thought is to try to see out the war quietly, avoiding the Gestapo and SS as best she can.

No one needs to know her dark secret. She must focus on staying hidden. Because she can’t risk being exposed for who she truly is. Not really Annegret. But a girl living a secret life. A girl who was once called Margarete.

But then an encounter with an escaped prisoner changes everything, as Margarete discovers what is happening at the factory and its attached labor camp. Witnessing first-hand the suffering of prisoners—shivering, with faces gaunt from hunger, as they work in brutal and cruel conditions—she realises she must act.

If she can save just one life, she knows she has to. Because the truth is that Margarete resembles the prisoners in the camp in ways she daren’t admit. And on the other side of the fence, she has seen a face that is achingly familiar…

Book Links: Kindle or Paperback

Many thanks to Bookouture via NetGalley for my copy of From the Dark We Rise to review and to Sharon for having my review on the blog.

From the Dark We Rise by Marion Kummerow continues on Margarete’s story which began in A Light in the Window. This second book in a planned trilogy is easily read as a standalone as there are several paragraphs at the beginning of the book which recap on what happened in the previous story. This was a handy refresher for me but also allows new readers to feel as if they haven’t missed out on too much. I loved that we were straight back into the action more or less picking up where book one left off. There was no messing about and anything we needed to recap on as I have said was explained in a few necessary sentences. Margarete having assumed the identity of Annegret, her former employer’s daughter, has now inherited the vast Huber fortune due to the dramatic climax that concluded book one. For the purposes of this review I will stick to calling the main character Margarete but to all intents and purposes she is now a totally different person and must remember to always stay in character and assume the qualities and personality traits of Annegret.

Even in book one I always felt Margarete was threading a very thin line and was in constant danger of discovery. The reprisals if the truth did become known did not bare thinking about because of the subterfuge she was undertaking but also because she was a Jew. This sense of needing to keep things under wraps and living as another person really added to the drama and danger throughout the story. With every turn of the page you think is this it? Is Margarete’s time up and the truth will out? Will she say something that will give the game away? I think she was in so deep and embroiled so much with the higher ranks within the Nazi regime as Horst, a leader within the Gestapo, became a good ‘friend’ and mentor to her that there was no way at all that she could back out of the circumstances she finds herself in. To do so would only lead to certain death and at this stage she had done so much and come through the firing line so to speak unscathed that really she had no choice but to push on and hope that come the wars eventually end that she would emerge stronger, resilient and unharmed out the other side.

Margarete was cunning but not in a sly way. She wanted to do good with the money she had inherited and the way she went about it in this book especially considering the dangers she faced made her an admirable character. A change of setting from the city of Berlin added an entirely different tone and feel to the book. Margarete moves to the Huber family estate deep in the German countryside, she is now the mistress of the Manor Gut Plain. I loved the descriptions of the estate, it seemed an entirely different world far away from all the bombings in Berlin. It was like the war wasn’t even occurring but soon Margarete realises that the war is very much on her doorstep when she discovers she owns a munitions factory hidden in the woods. She is even more horrified to learn said factory is staffed by slaves from concentration camps. 

Jews and the undesirables as viewed by Hitler are those that make the munitions and face danger on a daily basis. Not to mention the appalling living and working conditions they are forced to endure. But Margarete is determined to do something about this especially when she thinks she spies a familiar face. I loved this element of the story as it brought something that she thought gone forever from her life back into her heart and mind yet she could do nothing about it. This strand of the story was developed well. The author could have gone gung ho about it instead it was carefully considered and there is a strong sense of Margarete biding her time and using her power when the time is right.I’m very eager to see how this will work out in the next book, if at all.

Margarete has to be alert at all times. I find her to be constantly on edge and always thinking of her next move. The real Annegret was spoiled, disdainful, selfish, obnoxious and manipulative and this is simply not in Margarete’s nature. Several times I thought the game was up and all that she had been through would have been for nothing but she surprised me with her determination and pulled things back from the edge when the consequences could have been disastrous. At the centre of it all, Margarete really is on a mission to do good and to help those who really can’t help themselves. She finds it so difficult to ignore the travesties happening round her and despite being in a precarious situation herself she really pushes herself to the limit and reads between the lines as to what is really going at the manor and how this is connected to the factory. She could have turned a blind eye to everything and just concentrated on getting herself through the war unharmed but instead she constantly shows her integrity and the fact that she is a force to be reckoned with. She is selfless as highlighted with how she deals with a chance discovery as she walks in the forest and she uses this to further her knowledge about the factory and in turn using this information to do something to help those incarcerated simply because of their religion or sexuality. Margarete is really shaping up to be an incredible character and I am very eager to see how her story will continue on.

Initially, I felt there was a danger that the book could have become repetitive more or less just describing the daily routine in the big house and what Margarete as a rich person would do. But thankfully the author had lots of little subplots ongoing throughout that all connected together brilliantly as the book neared its conclusion. Gustav, the estate manager, seemed as nice as pie when we first encounter him and you would take everything he says at face value but we soon learn as we read chapters from his perspective that he is far more complex and he relishes the power he believes his has and thinks he can pull the wool over everyone’s eyes. He believes the Jews working in the factory are getting their chance at redemption and are helping to rebuild the country they destroyed. This couldn’t be further from the truth. I desperately hoped he would get his comeuppance and that Margarete would see through him. Oliver was the stud manager and ensured the Germans were receiving a supply of horses needed on the front. He didn’t like what was going on but he had no choice but to do as he was ordered. He had a crucial role to play in the book and he was a great addition overall. I did think on the romantic side things just seemed too obvious when he was first introduced. I thought he would connect to a certain character but I am glad things turned out differently.

From the Dark We Rise is a quick read and I thought hmm is this over really before it began? But on reflection the author did manage to pack an awful lot in. There was a peaceful resolute ending but still it’s left wide open for much more to happen in the next book. I’m really enjoying Margarete’s story and will definitely be there until the bitter end to see how things work out for her.

No comments:

Post a Comment