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Reviewed by Ruffina Oserio for Readers' Favorite
Order No.227. From Stalin With Love by Marina Osipova is brief but compelling, a narrative that brilliantly showcases WWII in 1942 against the backdrop of the Soviet Union fight against the Germans. The story is inspired by real events on the Eastern Front of World War II and features the military prosecutor Jakov Antonovich Krivenkov who has the important mission of preparing a military unit of criminals to defend the country. The prosecutor knows these men are human and, to get them to fight, he needs to give them a reason, so he sets out to win their hearts in the process. This story provides a vivid and painful picture of a world torn apart by war, from the certainty of death in the trenches to the incredible tale of an ordinary Russian woman, Matryona, who is caught in the fray of battling factions and who has to make difficult choices to stay true to her heart.
But the novel isn’t written to create a sense of dismay in readers. While it explores the vagaries and the painful experience of war, it also looks at the beauty of the human spirit, at what unites us against the evil of war. The journey of those recruited into the penal group and their prepping for war is one that unveils the power of human connection and trust. However, the pathos is deep in seeing these people part from the person who has won their trust. The style of writing is beautiful, with references to historical events, and takes the reader back to the Soviet Union during the period of the German invasion. The use of suspense is skillful and it allows readers to drift between the main plot and the story of Matryona. Marina Osipova’s Order No.227. From Stalin With Love is well-researched and expertly written, an entertaining short story with a timeless message that is deeply human.