Back in 1990 I first discovered a genre called Christian fiction. The very first Christian novel I'd ever read was Vienna Prelude by Brock and Bodie Thoene. The story was excellent. From that point on I was hooked, and it was then that I discovered an affection for historical fiction, especially set during the devastation of WWII Europe. The characters in their books faced uncertain peril, but trusted in a powerful and loving God to save them. Since that time I have read at least 30 of their books up through 2005, but then stopped when the number of available Christian novels exploded to the point I had too many choices and couldn't keep up. It wasn't until this year that I started reading again stories they've written together.
On an emotional level, this story blew me away. At first I'd thought it would be good like some of the others. Engaging and interesting; maybe even a bit heart-rending. This book was so much more. It had passion in it that I don't recall from earlier books. My heart was hurting and I even cried a few times. I read those intense scenes over again...and cried a second time. My heart was totally engaged in the story and invested in this characters' lives. I didn't want it to end.
Yet while the ending was painful--agonizing even--it resolved in an awesome way. But then it changed again. While the second ending was obviously improbable, I still found it more than satisfying. I was willing to suspend disbelief because I wanted to believe the resolution even though it was impossible. I wanted to believe that if you gave up the one thing your heart loved most in this world, that God would restore that to you eventually if you were obedient and followed through with releasing your most beloved person to Him. I wanted to believe that such a passionate and sacrificing love could live forever.
I highly recommend this story for WWII buffs. If you like the supernatural, that's even better. This story is full of action and terror, war and misery, but more than that, it is chocked full of love demonstrated between neighbors, self-sacrifice, and a pure devotion to helping the helpless. I felt so inspired by the character's lives and their faith it left me breathless. I often forgot they weren't real people. I found Eben's revelation about his past incredible and even wondered if it were possible. With God, anything is possible. While the story behind his life is too incredible to be real, it still felt real to me. That is an example of fantastic storytelling. As a result, this book is making my favorites list of 2010 and is staying on my keeper shelf. I absolutely loved it!