Formats: eBook, Paperback
Synopsis From Goodreads:
In the surreal and paranoid underworld of wartime Prague, fugitive lovers Felix Andel and Magdalena Ruza make some dubious alliances – with a mysterious Roman Catholic cardinal, a reckless sculptor intent on making a big political statement, and a gypsy with a risky sex life. As one by one their chances for fleeing the country collapse, the two join a plot to assassinate Hitler’s nefarious Minister of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, Josef Goebbels.
But the assassination attempt goes wildly wrong, propelling the lovers in separate directions.
Felix’s destiny is sealed at the Bone Church, a mystical pilgrimage site on the outskirts of Prague, while Magdalena is thrust even deeper into the bowels of a city that betrayed her and a homeland soon to be swallowed by the Soviets. As they emerge from the shadowy fog of World War II, and stagger into the foul haze of the Cold War, Felix and Magdalena must confront the past, and a dangerous, uncertain future.
So What Did I Think About The Story?:
I should start out by saying The Bone Church deals with a part of history I know very little about. Weaving back and forth between 1944 and 1956 it takes place mainly in Czechoslovakia and sets as its backdrop the Nazi occupation (in the 1944 timeline) and later the heavy Soviet control of the country (in the 1956 timeline). Knowing so little about this time and place in history, much of the heavier political and social elements, while interesting, were somewhat confusing for me. Once I went and read a little more about these shifting factions I was able to better understand the underlying themes and how they affected the characters. However, even with the extra reading I found myself sort of glazing over the politics and focusing my attention and enjoyment on the characters and their actions.
I found all of the characters incredibly interesting. The seemingly visceral connection between Magdalena and Felix was simply fascinating and I kept flipping the pages to see if they would be able to escape occupied Czechoslovakia and, in the later timeline, find each other again. My biggest problem with the Magdalena/Felix portion of the story was I felt like both timelines just sort of plopped the reader down in the middle of action without giving a lot of backstory to give the reader a better understanding of what happened to lead up to what was currently going on. How did Magdalena and Felix come to know each other? How did their relationship develop into the close and unbreakable bond it became? How did Magdalena and her mother come to be living in the Andel's basement? What had happened between the two storylines that lead to where both characters found themselves in 1956? While tiny hints were dropped throughout the story to give the reader a taste of the answers to these questions I enjoyed the characters so much I just wanted more information.
The secondary characters were just as mesmerizing and what I loved the most was the way each of these characters kept surprising me! Just when I thought I had a good idea of the motives and allegiances of a character they would do something to flip that right on its head. Those that I thought would sacrifice Magdalena and Felix for the simplest thing ended up being their greatest champions and those I thought really had their back ended up doing things for their own selfish wishes that put the lovers' lives in danger (sorry for being vague...I don't want to give any surprises away!). I love when I think I know the essence of a character and find out I had no idea who they really were.
Another exciting element of The Bone Church that I was surprised I enjoyed as much as I did was Felix's paranormal abilities. Felix can not only communicate with the dead but can interact with them as well as the divine to get himself out of some sticky and dangerous situations. It isn't heavy handed (which, for me, would have made the whole story feel silly and unrealistic) but is utilized at just the right time and in such a delicate and beautiful manner that it really added a wonderful touch of mysticism to the whole story and helped pull in the religious elements of the storyline as well.
There is so much more I could discuss about the book - the actions of the Prague Underground, the plot to find the authentic Infant of Prague, the Bone Church itself - but that would make for a very long review. Suffice it to say The Bone Church has something for just about any reader to enjoy. Those that are well versed in the political, social and religious goings on in Czechoslovakia during these time periods will love it that much more. I think if I knew more about these elements and if there was more backstory given for Magdalena and Felix's love story this would have been a strong contender for my favorite book of the year.
So What Do I Think About The Cover?:
I think it fits the story perfectly! It is stark and concise and shows that religious element that underlines much of the action. The little skull and crossbones at the top of the church also represents the Bone Church itself. Anything more vibrant or decorative would have misrepresented this bleak and tense story for me.
My Rating: 3.5/5.0
Thank you to Amy at Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for providing me with my review copy of The Bone Church in exchange for an honest review and for allowing me to be a part of this awesome blog tour! Be sure to continue reading below for author information, where to buy the book for yourself and the tour schedule so you can follow along and see what other bloggers are saying about The Bone Church!
About the Author
Victoria Dougherty writes fiction, drama, and essays that often revolve around spies, killers, curses and destinies. Her work has been published or profiled in The New York Times, USA Today, International Herald Tribune and elsewhere. Earlier in her career, while living in Prague, she co-founded Black Box Theater, translating, producing and acting in several Czech plays. She lives with her husband and children in Charlottesville, Virginia.
For more information, please visit Victoria Dougherty’s website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Pinterest.
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The Bone Church Blog Tour Schedule
Monday, June 16
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Interview at Mina’s Bookshelf
Tuesday, June 17
Interview at Flashlight Commentary
Wednesday, June 18
Excerpt at The Musings of ALMYBNENR
Thursday, June 19
Guest Post at I’d So Rather Be Reading
Monday, June 23
Review at Based on a True Story
Tuesday, June 24
Review at Bibliotica
Friday, June 27
Review at Back Porchervations
Monday, June 30
Review at Dianne Ascroft Blog
Review at Oh, For the Hook of a Book
Tuesday, July 1
Interview at Oh, For the Hook of a Book
Wednesday, July 2
Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews
Thursday, July 3
Review at leeanna.me
Monday, July 7
Review at Library Educated
Thursday, July 10
Excerpt & Spotlight at Books and Benches
Monday, July 14
Review at 100 Pages a Day
Tuesday, July 15
Review at Kinx’s Book Nook
Thursday, July 17
Guest Post at Savvy Verse & Wit
Friday, July 18
Review at Curling Up By the Fire
Monday, July 21
Review at Book Nerd
Tuesday, July 22
Review at The Lit Bitch
Wednesday, July 23
Review at A Bibliotaph’s Reviews
Thursday, July 24
Review at Mari Reads
Review at bookramblings
Monday, July 28
Review at Queen of All She Reads
Review at Good Friends, Good Books, and a Sleepy Conscience
Guest Post at Historical Tapestry
Tuesday, July 29
Review at Historical Tapestry
Wednesday, July 30
Review at Luxury Reading
Thursday, July 31
Review at From the TBR Pile