Sunday, January 31, 2021

Book Review: From the Ashes: An Alternate History Novel, by Sandra Saidak

Here we have another novel, From the Ashes: An Alternate History Novel, by Sandra Saidak, where the Nazis have won the Second World War.  Not only have they taken over Europe, but they have also taken over the world (I wonder what their former Japanese allies would have to say to that).

I’ll come right out and admit it: I don’t like this book very much. I really tried to like it, but there were too many things that got in the way. And that’s too bad because there are some positive points about this novel.

Author Saidak builds from an imaginative standpoint based on the historical fact that had the Nazis won, they had planned to establish museums in the perverse memory of the cultures they obliterated.  It is in one of these museums dedicated to the memory of the Jews,  that a group of young university students of the Reich’s elite gather to explore the shards of Jewish culture.

Okay, so far, so good.

But suddenly, things get out of hand. Both for the characters and the novel they inhabit. Suddenly our chief protagonist Adolf Goebbels (an imaginative name) gets mixed up in a revolution against the Nazis.  Quickly, perhaps too quickly, not only does Adolf become a Rabbi, but he also becomes a leader of the revolution.  Surely, the Ministry of Enforced Irony is working overtime here.

The writing and plot are a lot like that:  forced, plodding, and pedantic. Where the author could use a light touch, she instead hits with a sledgehammer. And where she should be showing, building out a world that has been under the Nazi jackboot for generations, she tells. Showing is the mark of a good storyteller, where all of the physical senses are engaged by showing what the protagonist’s reactions and feelings are to their environment.  Telling is simply that: telling. Unfortunately, in this instance, Saidiak does too much of the latter and not enough of the former.

In summation, a good premise, poorly executed. 

What's Next?

Next month, I'll have another review for you.

In the meantime, you can purchase Elvis Saves JFK! for just 99 cents and War Plan Crimson, A Novel of Alternate History, for $2.99 and now The Key to My Heart, also $2.99 (all are free to preview). All books -- which are already on Smashword's premium distribution list -- are also available through such fine on-line retailers such as Sony, Chapters Indigo, Barnes & Noble and Apple's iTunes Store.  

Take care of yourselves.