This is a SPOILER FREE review
Anyone who has spent a little time on my blog or twitter page will see that I’m more than slightly in love with a gorgeous book called The Butterfly and the Violin. I’ve written reviews, tweeted, reread, instagrammed and interviewed. It’s been one of my favourite novels since I stumbled upon it last summer, when I was searching for well-written historical fiction. As soon as I finished it I reached out to the author, Kristy Cambron, eager to convey my intense gratitude. Because when there are books which capture a person as completely as Butterfly captured me, thanks is what you feel. I am honoured to now consider Kristy a friend, and the sequel in the Hidden Masterpieces series did not disappoint when it came out in April. If anything, Kristy’s writing style has refined and evolved into an even more poignant, inspiring book.
“Hope. Forgiveness. Christ.”
Three words Kristy used to describe her latest novel, A Sparrow in Terezin.
A Sparrow in Terezin follows Sera through her journey to find the truth and real peace, and spins the historical tale of Kaja Makovsky, who is captured in Prague and taken to the Terezin ghetto. It is a story of her survival, of transcendent love, and the hope and purity of the children, the Sparrows, of Terezin.
The novel picks up a while after Butterfly in Sera’s end of the dual narrative, though through the development of the new plot. What happened in the interim becomes apparent. Sera’s love and faith are tested in the most difficult ways and she once again finds herself immersed in the journey of another war-torn Jew, Kaja Makovsky.
Kaja is a Czech half-Jew, born into a well-off family. She is forced to leave Prague and travels to London, where she works as a journalist. However, when the extent of the Nazi regime is revealed to her, nothing can stop her from risking her life in a journey back to Prague to find her parents.
Both Sera and Kaja face their own tests of faith and strength. Can Sera overcome her doubts? Can Kaja survive and keep the children safe?
I did not expect Sparrow to be so enthralling, and I was enraptured by the lesser-known Terezin ghetto. This side of history, far removed from the well-known horrors of Auschwitz-Birkenau yet so clearly linked, showed even more clearly the lengths the Germans went to in order to hide their twisted regime. Terezin was a façade of nicety with hidden monstrosities, ones which crippled and scarred thousands of unwilling inhabitants. As I read, I found myself eager to research the more obscure camps. I was captivated by an event in the book based on the real, heroic actions of some men during the war – for the purpose of this spoiler-free review I will say no more.
I’ve already preordered some books on Terezin and the children’s artwork, and it’s very easy to see why the subject captured Kristy so thoroughly in her art history classes.
After reading Butterfly, I had unnaturally high expectations of Kristy’s future novels, and I wasn’t disappointed. Being able to follow Sera, a character I had grown so attached to last year, through another journey was beautiful, as well as being able to see the plot develop with the introduction of Kaja. I can only hope that I can soon travel to the US to get hard copies of these books and meet Kristy in person!