Katarina's Dark Shadow

Book One: Russian Mennonite Chronicles

Fiction - Historical - Event/Era
294 Pages
Reviewed on 01/01/2022
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Author Biography

I'm a Canadian Christian NF writer and this is my first fiction book.
After growing up and listening to my Russian Mennonite grandparents telling their tales of survival during the Russian civil war and then visiting my ancestral homelands in 2014, I felt the weight of ethnic cleansing.
This tiny population was almost wiped away by political decisions, but the world didn't seem to notice. I felt these dark stories needed to be told to a broader audience. I wanted people to care about this history.
I plotted a story-line where the main character goes missing or dies, and twenty years later, her son searches her old diaries to find out what happened. The story develops over the series of five volumes and we won't know what happened to Katarina until the end of the series. Parts of the story are 'pages' taken from real history.
Although my expertise may lie in non-fiction, I'm hoping to capture the interest of historical fiction readers interested in making a difference in the lives of those who continue to suffer with war trauma.
Although the character and story-line are fiction, the history is true. I hope you'll go on this journey with me to discover the story hidden in Katarina's soul.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Keith Mbuya for Readers' Favorite

Katarina Rempel’s dream was to be a schoolteacher when she was old enough and travel the world. Just like other groups in Europe and possibly the rest of the world, the Mennonite women were supposed to only worry about household chores and their husbands. Katarina and her family were living in Russia in the early twentieth century. Perhaps Katarina was too ambitious about her future, especially for an ordinary teenage Mennonite girl, now that there were speculations about an imminent outbreak of war in Russia and Germany. With dangerous Russian gangs on the loose, political pressure in the country, and a very volatile mass of Russian countrymen, is the war likely to happen? If it does, will the Mennonites survive? Having found his mother’s diary in the mid-twentieth century (the “post-war Germany” era), Peter, Katarina’s son, narrates his mother’s story from accounts in her diary, in MJ Krause-Chivers’ Russian Mennonite Chronicles (Katarina’s Dark Shadow).

Russian Mennonite Chronicles is an amazing dystopian-themed novel. The author forges a demandingly engaging storyline that exposes the agony and suffering the Mennonites went through during the Russian Civil War. The story is given a perfect setting in the early twentieth century. This is seen in the choice of words and ideas which embrace the use of technology and vocabulary from that era. The vivid depictions also impressively bring out the story’s setting. What I love most is how the author beautifully incorporates the culture and beliefs of the Mennonites in the narration, highlighting their uniqueness from Russians and other Europeans. Needless to say, I did learn a lot from Russian Mennonite Chronicles (Katarina’s Dark Shadow). The author boldly unwraps the character traits of the characters. There is a generally somber tone accompanying the narration, subject to the agony expressed in MJ Krause-Chivers’ words. This coupled with the suspense and tension in the book took me on an emotional roller coaster. I’m on my way to getting the next installment in MJ Krause-Chivers’ Russian Mennonite Chronicles. I loved this book.