This is a young adult story set in Poland towards the end of World War II (though it feels current). Our 2 young protagonists are Polish Maria (who escaped from a work camp) and Kostya, who is part of the Ukrainian resistance. Our story is told in first (Maria) or third (Kostya) person, switching every between them every few chapters. Our 2 main characters are both war victims, but not on the same side. However, there is no “good guy/bad guy” here. Everyone suffers. And their hardship has stripped away nearly all of their humanity, leaving them cold, hardened killers. But this they have in common, and they manage to connect on this basic level to care for one another, recognizing that underneath the animalistic exterior, they are both desperate, vulnerable and scared.
At times, the story is a little confusing about who is who in regards to warring factions, but an appendix (which I found too late) at the back of the book can help with this. The book feels very raw with emotion and the characters are written well. So the book had all the ingredients for me to love it, but I didn’t. I only liked it.
Thank you to the author and publisher for the complimentary copy of this book; my review is an honest one.