book review: his watchful eye

I have a gorgeous edition of this book, with a beautiful cover, but I couldn’t find a picture of it anywhere on the Internet, so I had to go with this simpler, more generic copy. Sorry.

Konrad Reichmann, an outstanding product of Hitler’s youth movement, becomes disillusioned as the reality of the Russian front bears no resemblance to the ”glory” of the Third Reich. Even lower than his unit’s morale are supplies and fuel as Russia’s winter is unleashed against them. When the slaughter of innocents opens his eyes to the true nature of the Reich, Konrad embarks upon a bold and dangerous plan to change the course of history. Can he avoid the trap set for him?

One thing I love about reading a book series is how invested I can become in the characters and the story if the writing it good. The SitN (Songs in the Night) trilogy, of which His Watchful Eye is the second book, is one of those serieses. (honestly, what is the plural of ‘series’?) I’ve probably read it four or five times, and during my last re-read of HWE, I felt happy while I read it, just because the entire thing was so comfortable and familiar, and the characters really do start to feel like family after awhile. I’ve experienced similar things with other book serieses, but SitN is definitely one of the best in that regard. I know all the ins and outs of each book (HWE is my favorite, and I read it the most recently, so that’s why I’m reviewing right now instead of the first one) although they never bore me. The entire saga has wrapped its way around my heart and I don’t think it could ever be removed. But I doubt any of you are really ‘getting’ what I’m saying, so I’ll move on to the proper review.

The books in this trilogy are not stand-alones, so I highly recommend that you read book one, While Mortals Sleep, first and then follow up with the second and third books. I’ll try to keep from giving away spoilers for book one, although since this series is so little known, I doubt anything I said would make much sense. But it was the same with my review of The Adversaries, and I still got a couple followers into reading it (and liking it) so hopefully this review will do the same. I’m just going to say something right away. It’s basically the book review…the rest is just details.

I completely and totally recommend this book (and series) for any historical fiction bookworm. You definitely won’t regret reading it and I promise doing so won’t be a waste of your time. Pinky promise.

Moving on…

I knew little (as in, nothing) of Germany’s side of WWII when I first picked up this series a couple years back, and I certainly had never given much thought to what German Christians went through during the war. The SitN series was a real eye-opener for me (the third book especially, since that focused on the Cold War/Berlin Wall fiasco, of which I knew pretty much zip) and I’m pretty sure the series was what got me more interested in WWII books, movies, and the history of the war in general.

All three books are rich in historical detail…the kind of detailing that makes it seem as though you’re right there in bombed-out Berlin. Or the Russian steppes as the German army retreated. Or staring down a sniper rifle scope pointed directly at Adolf Hitler. (all three of those examples are really things that happen in HWE) The plot is fast-paced, with lots of heart-pounding action and mind games. Romantic moments are sprinkled throughout (perfectly clean romance, by the way) and I enjoy romance when it’s written well and isn’t the main focus of the book – like in all of Jack Cavanaugh’s books. (with the possible exception of Dear Enemy) I have no faults with the pacing or the emotional pull of the story. (um…far from it in that regard – even though I’ve read the thing several times, I still cry in certain places) I can’t think of a single place where the plot drags.

As in all Cavanaugh books (I’m starting to sound like a broken record, aren’t I?) the characters are memorable, unique, and strong. Konrad, the Wermacht sniper who sets off on his own personal vendetta against Hitler. Lisette, the girl he loves (but who isn’t just there to serve as a love interest) who rescues a blind child and helps care for four other handicapped orphans. Josef and Mady, the pastor and his wife who hold everything together as they battle against the Nazi regime. Ernst, a brilliant scientist who falls in love with a woman he can’t have (Ernst and Konrad are pretty much tied for favorite character…Ernst might win by just a tiny margin). And Rachelle, a French POW who is separated from her husband. Of course, there’s many other characters (I haven’t even touched on the main villain, who’s basically a demented murderer) but I touched the most important ones, and I don’t want this blog post to go on for too much longer. Long blog posts can be boring, especially when there’s little or no pictures in them. Anyway, I think I’ve hit on all the main points that a book review should.

As always, if there’s any questions you might have, the comment box is ready and waiting. And if you end up reading this book based on my recommendation, let me know what you think! I love introducing people to my favorite books, so I’d be thrilled to hear what you had to say. (that goes for people who’ve read this book already…looking at you, Galannaley)


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