Thursday 19 August 2021

The Gathering Storm (The Sturmtaucher Trilogy Book 1) - Alan Jones

Kiel, Northern Germany, 1933. A naval city, the base for the German Baltic fleet, and the centre for German sailing, the venue for the upcoming Olympic regatta in 1936.

The Kästners, a prominent Military family, are part of the fabric of the city, and its social, naval and yachting circles. The Nussbaums are the second generation of their family to be in service with the Kästners as domestic staff, but the two households have a closer bond than most.

As Adolf Hitler and his National Socialist Party claw their way to power in 1933, life has never looked better for families like the Kästners. There is only one problem.

The Nussbaums are Jews.

The Sturmtaucher Trilogy documents the devastating effect on both families of the Nazis’ hateful ideology and the insidious erosion of the rights of Germany's Jews.

When Germany descends ever deeper into dictatorship, General Erich Kästner tries desperately to protect his employees, and to spirit them to safety.

As the country tears itself apart, the darkness which envelops a nation threatens not only to destroy two families, but to plunge an entire continent into war.’ 

What did I think?

Wow wow wow!  This book is seriously good.  Alan Jones has written an outstanding piece of historical fiction and better yet, it's the start of a trilogy so it's only the beginning of the story.  I usually like to read historical fiction in physical form because of the added extras like maps and glossaries that are handy to refer back to, but at 800 pages long The Gathering Storm would be quite weighty so I was pleased to read this one on kindle.  It really doesn't feel like a long book as I was so immersed in the story that I didn't want it to end and could have happily kept on reading.

Set in Germany in 1933 when war is just a twinkle in Adolf Hitler's eye, it's unusual to read a WWII novel written from this perspective and I absolutely loved it.  Germany building up to war is a huge story in its own right but I found The Gathering Storm to be surprisingly character driven.  The Kästners and the Nussbaums, along with their acquaintances, were brought to life right before my eyes and I felt all their hopes and fears with them.

It's shocking to think that this is real history as the treatment of the Jewish people is horrific and it makes for uncomfortable reading at times.  Of course, this part of history is well known but when it happens to characters you care about it's even more disturbing.  I found it amazing how easily the German people were brainwashed by Hitler but I'd never really considered how losing the First World War had affected them.  Reading about Hitler's rise to power and the measures he took to stay there is quite astounding and I could see how the population found him so charismatic.

Alan Jones' research is meticulous and it really adds depth to the sketchy history I already knew of this period.  I felt like I learned more reading The Gathering Storm than I ever learned in a whole year of history lessons.  History is brought to life in this exceptional novel.

The Gathering Storm is stunning, breathtaking and so very highly recommended.  It really deserves more than 5 stars to show how exceptional it is.  I can't wait to continue this epic story.

I received a digital ARC to read and review for the blog tour and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

About the author:

Alan Jones is a Scottish author with three gritty crime stories to his name, the first two set in Glasgow, the third one based in London. He has now switched genres, and his WW2 trilogy will be published in August 2021. It is a Holocaust story set in Northern Germany.

He is married with four grown up children and four wonderful grandchildren.

He has recently retired as a mixed-practice vet in a small Scottish coastal town in Ayrshire and is one of the RNLI volunteer coxswains on the local lifeboat. He makes furniture in his spare time, and maintains and sails a 45-year-old yacht in the Irish Sea and on the beautiful west coast of Scotland. He loves reading, watching films and cooking. He still plays football despite being just the wrong side of sixty.

His crime novels are not for the faint-hearted, with some strong language, violence, and various degrees of sexual content. The first two books also contain a fair smattering of Glasgow slang.

He is one of the few self-published authors to be given a panel at Bloody Scotland and has done two pop-up book launches at the festival in Stirling.

He has spent the last five years researching and writing the Sturmtaucher Trilogy.

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