The Book Of Uriel
Hello, today I pleased to be part of the book tour, organised by The Write Reads on Tour. I think one of the best things of doing tours is that you get the chance to read some fantastic books, and this is one of those that I enjoyed immensely. I have had this book on my TBR for quite a while actually and I was so glad to get to read this book. So..... on with the post.
In the fires of World War II, a child must save his people from darkness…
Ten-year-old Uriel has always been an outcast. Born mute in a Jewish village known for its choir, he escapes into old stories of his people, stories of angels and monsters. But when the fires of the Holocaust consume his village, he learns that the stories he writes in his golden notebook are terrifyingly real.
In the aftermath of the attack, Uriel is taken in by Uwe, a kind-hearted linguist forced to work for the commander of the local Nazi Police, the affably brutal Major Brandt. Uwe wants to keep Uriel safe, but Uriel can’t stay hidden. The angels of his tales have come to him with a dire message: Michael, guardian angel of the Jewish people, is missing. Without their angel, the Jewish people are doomed, and Michael’s angelic brethren cannot search for him in the lands corrupted by Nazi evil.
With the lives of millions at stake, Uriel must find Michael and free him from the clutches of the Angel of Death...even if that means putting Uwe in mortal danger.
The Book of Uriel is a heartbreaking blend of historical fiction and Jewish folklore that will enthrall fans of The Book Thief and The World That We Knew.
Heartbreaking, horrifying and whimsical, Elyse Hoffman’s historical fantasy, set in Poland during world war two, centres around Uriel, the mute Angel Finder, who is tasked by Samael, the Angel of Death to complete five tasks that will set the captive Angel Michael free.
Elyse Hoffman’s book is a strangely beguiling story. As I said, it centres around Uriel, a mute Jewish child who after surviving the massacre of his village, Zingdorf, in Poland, is healed by a host of angels who tell him that the Angel Michael is being held captive by the Angel of Death in revenge of the people that he was the Guardian for, the Esau. They heal him and tell him of their plight, subsequently engaging his aid to help them and giving him a Hamsa in order to protect him and turn him invisible from the unrighteous, telling it will only be the righteous that can see him.
What we don’t count on is that the righteous person that can see him is a German linguist called Uwe Litten, who has been employed to translate for the leader of the Ordnunpolezei, the Order police, Major Brandt. Upon being transported to his place of residence, Uwe travels through the village of Zingdorf, and discovers the nearly dead body of Uriel. Whilst he cannot revive him, takes the boy most prized possession, a golden notebook, in which the mute boy has written down the stories that that boy’s father has told him.
Later, Uriel travels to the house where Uwe is staying and learns that the Germans cannot see him and steals into the house but is shocked to discover that against his expectations Uwe can see him, thus making him righteous. Uwe, then hides the boy in his room.
As the story moves on, he meets with the Angel of death who informs him of his plan and also that the thing he desires most is the death of Michael’s people, the Jewish people, and that he is following around the destruction caused by the Nazis with not a small amount of glee.
In the midst of this, while he is being aided by Uwe, a sort of friendship and bond develops between the two. In essence, Uwe is a good soul, and is able to relate to Uriel as both a child and a human being, which we know this was something that was lacking in the Nazi Psyche, and was one of the many myriads of reasons that they could carry out the atrocities they did.
This is one of those books that defies being fitted into a particular pidgeon hole. On the one hand, it runs like a fairy story, and is it at times almost whimsical. However, it never shies away from the brutality and horror of the situation. In addition to this, there is this strange juxtaposition of the German Army, that paints a different picture of the people that were carrying out these atrocities. For instance, Major Brandt is constantly shown as an affable and amiable soldier, who is almost father like in his ministrations to his subordinates, and they regularly refer to him as Uncle, yet carries out a thoroughly awful torture scene in the book, and other atrocities against the Jewish people.
In addition to this, Elyse Hoffman gives the reader insights into the Jewish faith and folklore, that are encapsulated in the stories that Uriel writes down, or by little passages at the end of a chapter, but it is never preached
Uriel is one of my favourite characters that I have seen written. He is at once innocent, trusting and faithful to his religion, yet on the other hand, he is strong, resilient, and fearless in the face of adversity. And then we have Uwe, who is loving and has more than an ounce of compassion, yet can be hard, as is illustrated when he cuffs Uriel around the back of the head for going out of the room, or when he stands up for his principles and stops the torture that Brandt is involved with.
This is one of the most original books that I have read all year, in fact for a very long time. It beguiled and captivated me, horrified me, delighted me, whilst educating and perplexing me at the same time. I don’t know how I felt about this book, but I do know that it will stay with me.
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