Book tour stop! Today I’m delighted to be the host for The Amber Crane, a historical fantasy novel written by Malve Von Hassell.
First thing first, let me thank Lilyan and the publisher, Odyssey Books, for providing me with an e-copy of this book. Much obliged *hat tip*
MEET THE BOOK
Chafing at the rules of the amber guild, Peter, an apprentice during the waning years of the Thirty Years’ War, finds and keeps a forbidden piece of amber, despite the risk of severe penalties should his secret be discovered.
Little does he know that this amber has hidden powers, transporting him into a future far beyond anything he could imagine. In dreamlike encounters, Peter witnesses the ravages of the final months of World War II in and around his home. He becomes embroiled in the troubles faced by Lioba, a girl he meets who seeks to escape from the oncoming Russian army.
Peter struggles with the consequences of his actions, endangering his family, his amber master’s reputation, and his own future. How much is Peter prepared to sacrifice to right his wrongs?
Historical fantasy, time travel
Publication date: 25/06/21
READ MY REVIEW
Cover: The background is delicate, and the juxtaposition between the amber and the planes is delicious.
Historical fantasy? Wow, sign me up. I’m a big history fan, and I like a well-written fantasy every now and again; as a combo, it sounds pretty much irresistible. The Amber Crane is that combo, mixing both genres in a graceful, poignant way.
The Amber Crane follows the story of Peter, the MC who travels between his own present and the future: they’re both war-torn years, and while he’s not a soldier, the Thirty Years’ War and WWII still affect him. Shape him into the person he’s supposed to be. He doesn’t start out as a compassionate character, you see, but he goes through a magnificent growth arc.
The pacing is slow, which is appropriate for both genres, and Von Hassell’s writing style is on point, captivating the reader’s attention and causing that pleasant one more page feeling (or, in my case, one more left swipe). She puts together a beautiful story, taking historical facts and inserting them into the plot—kudos for her researching skills!
A big cast of characters supports Peter. I like some, I’m not that taken by some others, and I have a soft spot for Master Nowak; still, everyone is well-crafted and with their own voice. I have to say that the ‘600 parts read stronger, probably because of the dream setting. As a reader, I have less time to get involved with Lioba’s plights since she gets less screen time than Peter. Maybe balancing the past/future parts a bit more would have benefited the book.
The only real issue I’ve got with The Amber Crane has to do with the stakes though. They’re high—Peter’s position in the guild, Effie, Lioba, the wars—but the writing itself lacks tension here and there, and that might cause a ‘eh, it’s not a big deal’ reaction in the reader.
MEET THE AUTHOR
Malve von Hassell was born in Italy and spent part of her childhood in Belgium and Germany before moving to the United States. She is a freelance writer, researcher, and translator. She holds a Ph.D. in anthropology from the New School for Social Research.
Working as an independent scholar, she published The Struggle for Eden: Community Gardens in New York City (Bergin & Garvey 2002) and Homesteading in New York City 1978-1993: The Divided Heart of Loisaida (Bergin & Garvey 1996).
She has also edited her grandfather Ulrich von Hassell’s memoirs written in prison in 1944, Der Kreis schließt sich – Aufzeichnungen aus der Haft 1944 (Propylaen Verlag 1994).
She has taught at Queens College, Baruch College, Pace University, and Suffolk County Community College, while continuing her work as a translator and writer.
She has self-published a children’s picture book, Letters from the Tooth Fairy (2020) and 2020) and her translation and annotation of a German children’s classic by Tamara Ramsay, Rennefarre: Dott’s Wonderful Travels and Adventures (Two Harbors Press, 2012).
The Falconer’s Apprentice (namelos, 2015) was her first historical fiction novel for young adults. As well as The Amber Crane, she has published Alina: A Song for the Telling (BHC Press, 2020), set in Jerusalem in the time of the crusades, and is currently working on a biographical work about a woman coming of age in Nazi Germany.
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