Author: Sarah Sundin
Genre: Historical Fiction
Release Date: February 6, 2024
As the German army invades the Netherlands in 1940, Aleida van der Zee Martens escapes to London to wait out the occupation. Separated from her three-year-old son, Theo, in the process, the young widow desperately searches for her little boy even as she works for an agency responsible for evacuating children to the countryside.
When German bombs set London ablaze, BBC radio correspondent Hugh Collingwood reports on the Blitz, eager to boost morale while walking the fine line between truth and censorship. But the Germans are not the only ones Londoners have to fear as a series of murders flame up amid the ashes.
The deaths hit close to home for Hugh, and Aleida needs his help to locate her missing son. As they work together, they grow closer and closer, both to each other and the answers they seek. But time is running short--and the worst is yet to come.
Reviewer: Raechel Helwig
Another beautifully and richly crafted WWII novel from author Sarah Sundin! I always know I'm in for a historic treat when I pick up one of her books.
For me, it's usually the characters that make or break a story, and Alieda and Hugh certainly made this story in all the right ways. Aleida's plight to find her son easily gripped my heart, and I wanted her to find him almost as desperately as she did.
I love that each of the characters had flaws, quirks, and weaknesses. They had their strengths aplenty too, but it was also their weaknesses that added depth to their story, and I appreciated that. It's always meaningful when a character progresses in a story, learning to surrender and grow.
The faith strand was beautifully written, and I love that both Hugh and Aleida kept learning in their own journeys as well as together. "Embers in the London Sky" also includes a riveting mystery plot that keeps you guessing till the end, and I was very intrigued to piece it all together alongside the characters! It was all so wonderfully crafted. And that ending! The last couple chapters definitely brought tears to my eyes.
Quotes I liked:
Happy memories of her family's many cats filled her mind. "There are no ordinary cats."
"Then you're human. What we know and what we believe can be two separate matters. We know what we know, but we don't always know what we believe."
"Aleida, I am not Sebastian. I will never hurt you, but I refuse to pussyfoot around you either. I only want to protect you."
This book was provided courtesy of Revell through Interviews and Reviews. I was not required to write a positive review, and all thoughts expressed are entirely my own.
Reviewer: Cheryl Wood
I started reading Embers in the London Sky on my way to Africa and was quickly pulled into the story. A story of a mother’s heartache, war, murder, and a lot of sacrifice. How does a mom move forward when her child is taken and she doesn’t know where he went? Aleida and Theo, her son, are fleeing an abusive relationship from her husband.
Once she arrives in Britain, she is hired as an agent, helping refugee children while looking for her son. She meets Hugh, a BBC radio correspondent, and a friendship develops. Throw in murders that are taking place with no clear answers. They both set out to not only search for Theo but also try to figure out who is behind the murders.
A definite page-turner searching for answers as to who the murderer was—oh boy, was I wrong on my guess.
A perfect balance of love, loss, mystery, and faith, this is one historical fiction readers will enjoy. I am eagerly awaiting the next book in the series.
I received a complimentary copy courtesy of Revell through Interviews & Reviews for my honest opinion.
Reviewer: Conny Withay
“Even as a foreigner in a foreign land. He saw her. He remembered her. He loved her,” Alieda realizes in Sarah Sundin’s novel, Embers in the London Sky.
This four-hundred-page paperback targets those who enjoy historical romance in England during World War II. With no profanity or overtly sexual scenes, topics of abuse, murder, death, and war may not be appropriate for immature readers. The ending includes an author’s note, a teaser for another novel by the writer, acknowledgments, fifteen discussion questions, the author’s biography, and advertisements.
In this 1940s tale set mostly in London and its surrounding area, recently widowed Alieda van der Zee is beyond herself when her young son is separated from her when they flee from the Netherlands to England. As she desperately searches for him, not only does her obsessive-compulsive disorder ramp up, but she also no longer trusts men. When BBC radio correspondent Hugh Collingwood meets her and several murders happen locally, they both must learn to let go of things they do not want to so they can find peace and happiness.
I love historical fiction where I learn something new, and this one sheds a lot of light on how children were displaced during war, sometimes never found by their loved ones. I appreciated learning about how the news of wartime was broadcast in London, especially via the often-restricted BBC. The romance between the protagonists was tender and understandable considering their circumstances.
Those who do not like stories of war or murders may want to pass on this read, but it is not too graphic in its details. Some may not care for the many characters and having to keep track of them. Although the book caters to believing in God for answers, others may wish the eternal plan of salvation were included.
It would be helpful if a list of characters and a map were given at the beginning of the book. I wish all pronouns for God were capitalized for reverence.
If you like a murder mystery set in London amidst Nazi bombs dropping that includes a romance of letting go of that which cannot be controlled, this is an engaging read.
Thanks to Revell and Interviews & Reviews for this complimentary book. I am under no obligation to give a positive review.
Reviewer: Winnie Thomas
This story illustrates once again why talented author Sarah Sundin is one of my favorite historical fiction writers. Her obvious impeccable research, richly painted settings, and well-developed, multi-layered characters are showcased in this poignant, heart-wrenching tale set in London against the backdrop of WWII.
When Aleida Martens escapes from the Netherlands, she is separated from her young son and searches desperately for him in London and the surrounding countryside. When she meets BBC radio correspondent Hugh Collingwood, he agrees to help her, but they are soon enmeshed in a rash of mysterious murders.
With plenty of danger, suspense, and action, this tale is one of courage and hope in the face of great adversity and trial. The author’s notes gave some interesting added history and insight into the BBC and the efforts to evacuate young children from London during the bombing by the Germans.
I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy from Revell Publishing through Interviews and Reviews. All opinions are my own.
Reviewer: Paula Shreckhise
Putting myself into this story was very easy. I could sympathize with Dutch refugee Aleida as she desperately searches for her missing son, Theo. Aleida is determined enough to get a job that aids in that search and may get discouraged but doggedly soldiers on. When she meets BBC correspondent Hugh Collingwood, she gets a friend. Although he is charming, witty, and helpful, he is mindful of her recent widowhood. They also find a connection in their shared faith.
In this layered story, we have a slow romance, family drama, and a murder mystery that brings danger to Hugh and Aleida. Add to that a look at what the BBC did to boost the morale of British citizens during the nightly bombing of London, and you have a highly fascinating and entertaining story. A welcome counterpoint was the arrival of Lennox the cat and the banter as Hugh tried to adjust to his cantankerous guest.
This had the perfect blend of history, romance, faith, mystery, and humor. Another winner, in my estimation. With more to come from Aleida’s cousins Cilla and Gerit in subsequent books, I look forward to more WWII action.
A complimentary copy of this book was provided by Revell through Interviews and Reviews and via NetGalley. I was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.
Reviewer: Ewurabena Wilson
Sarah Sundin has written an intriguing WWII novel worth reading.
I may not be in a position to classify Embers in the London Sky as Sarah Sundin’s masterpiece owing to having read only two of her works, but I am convinced that this will be shelved as one of her greatest works.
Sarah Sundin’s Embers in the London Sky, an historical novel, begins in 1940 at Tilburg, Netherlands, where Aleida Van der Zee Martens is forced to evacuate with her family to London, United Kingdom, following the invasion of the Nazis in her home country. Aleida enters her new country, widowed and in search of her beloved son, Theodoor. Her determination to find her son causes her to cross paths with Hugh Collingswood, an aristocratic BBC war correspondent. With a common denominator of being plunged into war and the loss of loved ones, the two begin a friendship that blossoms into love.
I loved this novel’s plot. It was totally different from other WWII novels that I have read. The author’s addition of a murder mystery to a WWII novel was different but beautifully executed. I was kept in suspense throughout the novel. The creation of awareness of unpopular incidents during WWII, specifically xenophobia, is very commendable on the author’s part.
The main characters were great. It was as if I were there, reporting with Hugh during the London air raids and assisting Aleida in the search of Theodoor. The main characters were relatable in terms of their struggles during such a difficult period. The minor characters, Lennox, the cat, Lousia, Gilbert, and Jouveau, the journalists who met up at the Hart and Swan, all left a good mark on my mind.
If you are a fan of Sarah Sundin, make sure to grab her latest novel. For those yet to read any of this author’s novels, may this one usher you into her works.
I received a complimentary copy courtesy of Bethany House through NetGalley and Interviews & Reviews for my honest opinion.
Reviewer: Monica Huyser
In 1940, Germany invaded the Netherlands, and Aleida van der Zee Martens escaped to London. At that time, she was separated from her three-year-old son, Theo. She is a young widow, desperately searching for her little boy.
Embers in the London Sky by Sarah Sundin starts right out with the nitty-gritty of war and all of its difficulties. In the beginning, readers also learn that her husband was abusive to her and her son. It is because he handed the child off to someone else, without her knowledge, that Aleida does not have her son. Aleida soon gets a job with an agency evacuating children to the countryside to help her search for her son. During this time, she also meets BBC radio correspondent Hugh Collingwood. Together, they search for her son and deal with the daily London bombings during the war.
At the same time, there is also a mystery as Hugh's uncle is murdered, and the pair seek to help the police find the killer. This case becomes more complicated as the book goes on, and there is more than one murder.
Embers in the London Sky definitely shows the reader some of the challenges of living through this wartime era. Sundin brings history to life through these characters. I can't imagine trying to find my son at such a time. She doesn't dwell on the abuse, but it is clear Aleida's husband was abusive, and Aleida was looking to flee from him initially before the war evacuation.
I thought the developing friendship and eventual romance between Aleida and Hugh were well-paced, and I liked how it worked out. I also liked how these main characters had some personal challenges that they had to learn to deal with in the midst of tough times.
I thought the murder mystery added to the story as the reader tried to figure out who the killer was. I also liked that there was an element of faith in the characters that got stronger as those characters faced so much as the book went on. All in all, this was an enjoyable read full of richly developed characters, a plot that kept the reader guessing, and a faith line that was inspiring. In my opinion, Revell also nailed it on the beautiful cover, which does capture the essence of this book.
I also like that there are questions at the back of Embers in the London Sky that would be good for book clubs to use for discussion.
I received a copy of this book from Revell through Interviews & Reviews. All opinions are my own.
Reviewer: Nikita Wells
“The truth needs to be told.”
This World War II read was amazing!
Sometimes it's hard to find WWII books that have a great writing style, lots of action, no foul language, and romance without spicy or explicit scenes. This was not the case with this book. It checked every box for me and was a very satisfying and clean read. This absolutely makes my "must buy in paperback" list and is a story I'll want to re-read again and again.
Aleida and her son Theo were just so sweet together and were the best of fictional characters. They endured so much during the war. I also loved Hugh or "Collie" Collingwood's POV: watching the war unfold from the perspective of a BBC reporter. It was also neat to see his character, and the radio show "London After Dark" was based on real-life BBC journalist Raymond Glendenning and his work reporting during air raids.
Embers in the London Sky was a tale that kept me hooked from page one to "The End" and is a must-read for any WWII fiction reader!
Thank you to Revell Publishing for the complimentary NetGalley ARC I received to review through Interviews & Reviews. I was not required to write a positive review, and the thoughts above are my own.
Reviewer: Laura J. Davis
Once again, Sarah Sundin delivers an epic WWII tale filled with heartache, romance, and even murder!
I thought Sarah's last book, The Sound of Light, was her best, but I think this might be her best. How does she do it? Her characters are vibrant and real. Her prose reads like a movie playing out in my mind. This is a book to be savoured!
Aleida Martens courage and strength as she searched for her son had this mother's heart in her throat. I can't imagine losing a child. But losing a child during a war in a country of millions? The odds are not in her favour until she meets BBC correspondent Hugh Collingwood. As he helps her look for her son, romance blossoms, and yet, there is so much more to this story!
Don't read this book if you can't stay up late, because I guarantee you will not be able to put it down. I highly recommend it!
I received a complimentary copy courtesy of Revell through NetGalley for my honest review.
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