Book Review: The Woman at The Gates by Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger

Title: The Woman at the Gates

By: Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger

Genre: Historical Fiction

Pages: 343

Release Date: September 2nd, 2021

Publisher: Bookouture

Rating: ★★★☆☆


Summary from Goodreads:

"For as long back as Antonia could remember, there had been sliding panels and secret doors to be discovered in her Carpathian village, and the music of their defiance had sustained her."

1944, Germany: Gazing through the barbed wire fence, up at the pale blue sky, Antonia dreams of her home in Ukraine: cherry orchards, golden fields, and the man she loves, whom she may never see again…

The Nazi soldier thrust the barrel of his gun between Antonia’s shoulder blades and she stumbled, still clutching the hand of her youngest nephew. Her sister lifted her other little boy into the back of the truck. Under the threatening gaze of the Germans, Antonia looked back at the village one last time before the flap dropped and locked them all in total darkness.

Before Antonia and her sister's family were surrounded by the Gestapo and sent to a concentration camp, she was a fighter rather than a victim. Her resistance group - made up of the young men and women she’d grown up with - risked everything to free their country from those who had turned it into a bloody battleground. By her side was the brilliant Dr. Viktor Gruber - the man she was to have married and help start an independent government with. His love and his intellect shone like a light even when dark and violent conflicts engulfed them.

Antonia does not know whether Viktor or the others have been caught or executed. Inside the camp, rumors are that the war is coming to an end. But she cannot wait to be saved. Her precious nephews will die without proper food. Her sister is ill. And her brother-in-law is somewhere out of reach. The Nazis need every able slave to push back the Red Tide, but Antonia also knows she and the others could be killed for any reason, at any moment.

Outside the gates lies salvation and promises she must fulfill - for her country and the people she has loved. But Antonia's first priority is to find a way to get her family to safety, even if means putting her own life at risk. The Nazis may have taken nearly everything from her - her country, her dreams, her passions - but they will never take away her fierce courage…

Inspired by the author's research into her family's journeys from Ukraine to the United States, The Woman at the Gates is a heartbreaking, inspiring and unforgettable story of the faith, courage and determination shown by those who survived the darkest days of the war. Fans of Mandy Robotham, Kate Quinn and Pam Jenoff will be gripped from the very first page until the final, heart-stopping conclusion, and if you enjoyed Mark Sullivan's The Last Green Valley or Beneath a Scarlet Sky, you will not want to miss this action-packed epic! 


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I adore historical fiction, and I absolutely love stories set around WW2. I know, its a little morbid, but when you think about the incredible things people survived through, human strength should be admired.  

This story follows a Ukrainian family during WW2, and their struggle to stay together and to survive. There is a truly wonderful love story woven throughout the book as young Antonia is separated from the mans she loves and sent to a concentration camp. 

I loved how the story didn't follow just one character and one story line, but multiple characters throughout the book. This usually drives me nuts, but in this case, it really worked well. And the story didn't stop at the end of the war, it followed the family as the tried to find each other, and ultimately, find a home.  

This story was really heartfelt and wonderful to read. 

Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review.

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