By: Manuela Soares
“I have a strict curfew. You will be in your room by eleven, asleep at midnight. No arguments…No excuses, no exceptions ever.” – Ernst to David, Ch. 1, Pg. 59, eBook version.
Twenty years after the end of WWII, bogged down with survivor’s guilt, 10-year-old David Saidel is being sent to live with his unknown maternal Grandfather, Ernst, after the murders of his parents, Ruth and Isak. Being moved from Munich to Brennenbach isn’t a walk in the park, this new home is a small, antisemitic village that is not very welcoming to openly Jewish David. Fortunately, his opa (the German word for grandfather) isn’t all that strict, except for one thing: he’s never to leave the house after midnight. No biggie, right? Until it is. And that is where the story truly begins, for David does sneak out one night after their dog, Mozart, does a runner and becomes lost. After being told that he had been seen drinking from the fountain at midnight, David decides to find his dog and bring him home.
“Welcome to the Brennenbach of Midnight! The Curse Hours have begun.”
In his quest to find Mozart, David discovers the village’s secret, when the clock strikes midnight, the village is transported back in time to the village it was in 1943 at the height of Hitler’s reign. This lasts until 5 AM when everything reverts back to the 1960s. During these hours the village’s inhabitants either become their younger selves or take the place of people who lived in the village during Nazi occupation. On top of that, Nazi ghosts walk among them and are every bit as dangerous and despicable as they were when alive. David learns the truth about the village and its inhabitants, what his role is in this curse, and with the help of a new friend – Marie, how to end the curse once and for all.
This is an absolutely fascinating mix of historical fiction, fantasy, and mystery, that meshed well together and told a riveting and unique tale. I make no secret that I love historical fiction, especially when it revolves around WWI and/or WWII. When I saw that there was an opening slot on the book tour for this I jumped at the chance because of how good the synopsis sounded. This did not disappoint! There’s even a twist that was well-played and thrilling.
Like many historical fiction books, this is a long book with a slow opening chapter. That being said, it does pick up as it moves along and becomes more enjoyable. Based on my knowledge, while this is a heavy mix of fact and fiction, fantasy aside, this does seem fairly historically accurate; especially the attitudes towards the Jewish people even twenty years after the war. There is a lot of swearing, anti-Semitism, and other things along those lines, so if that’s not something that you want to read or are comfortable reading about, this may not be for you.
Overall, this was an enjoyable read once I got past the first couple of chapters. It’s very well-written, the plot isn’t convoluted or confusing, the characters are well put together and developed, and everything flows well. Based on this book, I would gladly read more of Hoffman’s books, I enjoy her style and twists on historical fiction.
A big thank you to author Elyse Hoffman and R&RBookTours for a digital copy of this to review.