Disclaimer: To Dream of Shadows was sent to me for free in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to Steve N Lee for providing me with a copy.
She’ll save hundreds of lives. But can she save her own?
Inspired by a previously untold true story.
1943, Eastern Europe. 18-year-old Czech, Inge is torn from her family and imprisoned in some godforsaken hellhole. Half-starved and suffering regular beatings, she battles through month after month of torturous labor while praying for liberation by the Allies. But rescue never comes. And her dream of surviving the war dies.
Heinz, an SS Sergeant, has been force-fed the Third Reich’s poisonous philosophy since childhood. As a boy, he had no choice but to believe it, however, nowadays, he uses his position to covertly help prisoners.
So when a random act of kindness thrusts Inge and Heinz together, they can’t resist being drawn to one another. And it turns their world upside-down. Unable to deny their feelings, they dare to dream of a future, a life… together.
But their relationship does not go unnoticed. For Inge and Heinz, falling in love becomes a death sentence. And not just for them, but for all those they care about.
Inge can make an unthinkable sacrifice.
A deeply heart-wrenching story that depicts how even under horrific circumstances, love can conquer all.
After being separated from her family, Inge is forced to forge her own path in concentration camps where the line between life and death is so thin. Inge is in constant battle with her own failing body, and mental stability as she, and her fellow prisoners, are worked to the brink of death every day. She has an incredible strength to go on, even when you think she’s given up, she picks herself up and continues. The simple act of caring for a helpless, starving bird, is what draws Rudi to her.
SS Sergeant, Heinz (also known as, Rudi) is at constant war with his own thoughts regarding his position in the war and in the camp. His own beliefs have been tainted by the indoctrination he faced as a child growing up in Nazi Germany. It’s clear that he can feel his grip on his humanity slipping the longer the war rages on. When he spots Inge outside his window feeding that bird, he sees an act of compassion so unusual that it shakes him to his core. He knows she must be starving, so to share her limited food with another animal shows him another side to the people he’s been taught to hate.
Reading as their relationship developed brought warmth to the story. It’s forbidden love to the utmost degree, but they know it’s worth fighting for. In a world crippled by war and inhumanity, this love brings them the comfort and companionship they both desperately need to survive. You can’t help but root for them as they start their dangerous journey toward love and a happier ending.
While Inge and Rudi were the main protagonists of this book, so many of the side characters were so endearing. Of course, given the nature of the story, there were plenty of evil characters that sucked the joy out of any situation they found themselves in. When certain names were mentioned, my hackles were immediately raised and I became terrified for the characters. However, Inge’s closest friend, Greta, and the Kommandant’s housekeeper Elena were equally as strong as Inge and so supportive.
This is in no way a light read, some of the heinous crimes committed will leave you feeling sick to your stomach. The torturous condition the prisoners are forced to live in is soul-destroying. However, it’s an incredibly powerful, moving read and I highly recommend it to anyone who has an interest in War Fiction / WW2 stories. Lee does a superb job of taking you from the depths of despair to finding pockets of hope throughout the book.