In the tradition of City of Thieves and Child 44, a troubled World War I veteran races across the frozen steppe of 1930's Ukraine to save a child from a shadowy killer with unthinkable plans.
Luka is a war veteran who now wants nothing more than to have a quiet life with his family. His village has, so far, remained hidden from the advancing Soviet brutality. But everything changes the day a stranger arrives, pulling a sled bearing a terrible cargo. When the villagers’ fear turns deadly, they think they have saved themselves. But their anger has cursed them. In the chaos, a little girl has vanished, and Luka is the only man with the skills to find the stolen child and her kidnapper in these frozen lands. Besides, the missing girl is the best friend of Luka’s daughter, and he swears he will find her. Together, with his sons, Luka sets out across lands ravaged by war and gripped by treachery. Soon they realize that the man they are tracking is no ordinary criminal, but a skillful hunter using the child as bait in his twisted game. It will take all of Luka’s strength to battle the harshest of conditions and all of his wit to stay a step ahead of Soviet authorities. And though his toughest enemy is the man he tracks, his strongest bond is a promise to his family back home.
©2013 Dan Smith (P)2013 Audible, Inc.
This is probably the best narration I've ever heard in an audio book. The story was beautiful, suspenseful, generous of human spirit and the amazing narration helped lift it to this level. I loved the descriptions of the cold as well as the slice of history. But most of all, I loved how the author built the suspense and an ending that does not disappoint. And while the book did have violence, the violence was never gratuitous as in so many books in this genre. This is a suspense/mystery novel that showcases literary writing, wonderful characters, and a compelling plot. And narration so good that it defies description.
I don't usually rush out for all the "best sellers", but give each intriguing book/author a look. I have found many diamonds in the rough.
This is out of my usual genre, I normally don't choose anything that is about war or holocaust. There were parts that surrounded the Russian Purge of the 1930's that were disturbing but helped to set the scene surrounding the story. I connected and cared about the characters from the very beginning, and the hunt for "The Child Thief" was interesting and exciting. The mystery behind the missing child, the tempered bonding between father and sons, and the rigorous tracking, made this listen fascinating and worth the credit. Dan Smith's illustration of the Ukrainian tundra was elegant. The images he brought to mind were beautiful but at the same time harsh and unforgiving.
Bronson Pinchot's narration was genius as usual, each voice was distinct and the characters personalities were brought to the forefront. All in all this was a good listen and memorable in its uniqueness.
What a find!
First I was unfamiliar with the author. Second the story was unique and about a time and place I knew little about (Ukraine about 1930). Third the characters seemed to really care about each other. There was genuine affection between family members. None of the drunken beatings common in many stories of that area.
Smith's writing is delightful. The details are so vivid, it's hard to believe he didn't live the experience.
Bronson Pinchot's performance is stunning. It just couldn't be better.
Retired CFO, Army wife, Mom of five, Grandma of six, two sons who served in combat, love to read books that reflect my values and faith, love mysteries, historical, military stories, and books that don't waste my time . . . if it doesn't have an ending that was worth the wait, I'm not a happy camper.
Historical story of a time in the Ukraine that I'd not known about . . . when Stalin's Soviet regime oppressed, overtook and starved millions of Ukrainians, running them from their own farms, not allowing them to eat their own grain or animals, a horror as great as or greater than the Holocaust, it has come to be known as Holodomor . . . and driven mad by starvation, some people did the unthinkable . . . they ate their dying children . . . I had to look all this up, after listening to The Child Thief . . . I had to research the horror . . . and it's true . . . but the story of The Child Thief is much, much more . . . It IS about a time in history and a place that is so different than I could have ever imagined . . . but it's also about the fears, the depth of emotions, the GOOD that exists, FOR ALL TIME . . . and IN ALL CIRCUMSTANCES . . . that which we all must draw upon to remain human beings . . . to remain connected to one another and to our God . . . a spark of paranoia, a spark of fear, a taste for a "rush", a taste for blood . . . oh, where it leads a weaker man . . . In the coldest of winters, starving and pursued, Luka treks in search of The Child Thief . . . almost giving up, almost ready to close his eyes and surrender to the cold . . .
Where has this book been?! So many books of far lesser quality are on the bestseller lists, and they pale in comparison! This book has it all...plot, exquisitely written prose, fully developed character, historical accuracy...I was hooked from the beginning! And I can't imagine "reading" this book any other way...the narrator nailed Lucka! I was sad to have it end.
I'm so happy I found this book! I was completely riveted by the book and its characters and I would worry about them and root for them. I didn't want it to end! I didn't know anything about this time in history (1930s Ukraine) and this book was so fascinating to me that I went and researched the war and that time in history. I will listen to this book again! The only downside is that the narrator's accent at first took some getting used to, but then it became part of the authentic feel of the book. I loved it!
This is a terrifically narrated story set the early days of the modern Soviet Republic. A sweep of even the smallest villages is taking people to work camps. The protagonist is a world weary soldier trying to protect his family. So there are heroes and villains and victims. People you get attached to have awful things happen to them. The author really takes you into the scenes, the people, and what happens to them.The book opens with a horrific event and pretty much continues the horror until the end. I had to stop listening and skip ahead a few times esp. the torture scenes. But aside from its graphic quality and a too-tidy ending, I have to say this is an amazing story. Just don't say you weren't warned.
I can't say I actually enjoyed this book. It made me thankful for all I have and have ever had, and for things I will, hopefully, never experience.
I could not stop listening, because I had to know what happend to the child, and the family.
I have heard other books by Bronson Pinchot, and I have to say, once I got past the thick accent, this was a magnificent piece of acting. He made you feel his characters' feelings and hear the emotions in their voices. Not just reading, but full-out acting.
It was depressing, but in a good way, if that's possible. Grim is a good word. Anyone looking for a happy story--this isn't it.
The story penned by Dan Smith is an exquisite exercise in balance and novelty: he weaves together plot elements, character development, and historical context as one fluid entity. It wasn't that every detail was elaborately scribed—quite the opposite; details are conveyed to the reader as a living person would: colored by experience, by forgetfulness and emotion. The book is a mystery that unfolds in the context of an almost palpable world, and Smith is expert at using restraint as a mainstay to make the villainy and horror of specific moments truly, appallingly stark. On a personal note, I very much appreciated Smith's capacity to end each chapter on a cliffhanger. Each chapter except the last one, I might add, only to note the rarity of a story so well constructed in the beginning and middle to come to a satisfying and believable conclusion.
The strength of the story was lifted an order of magnitude by Bronson Pinchot's narration. Without exception, this is the best performance I have encountered on any audiobook since I was listening to them on cassette tape. Pinchot's calm, accented English was wholly engrossing, making effortless the task of my imagination to create a scene of revolutionary Russia, the cold of the winter, the brutality of the antagonists. I wish I could give him six stars.
One final note for the history-phobes: I have no special affinity for Russian history. In fact, history as a default to me tends to fall on the scale between uninteresting and tedious. This story is simply too delectable to notice that you're learning something at the same time. Like an infant being bait-and-switched with one spoon of pudding substituted at the last minute for another with vegetables, I found myself enthralled with the living context that millions had to endure, which Smith exposes here by the travels and trials of his characters. Dan Smith stages his work in such an authentic feeling, I would be very unsurprised to learn that he is actually ghostwriting for someone who actually lived through the events. By the last page, I was begging for more veggies.
FIVE STARS!!!!! I don't give a 5 star rating easily but this novel is a gem that I enjoyed, marveled over, took pearls of wisdom about life from, and was sad to see it end. I can tell you without ant hesitation that this is one of the best books I have listed to and read!!!~ (immersion reading) Characters, plot, location, you name it and it was all there. I am not going to go into detail about the specifics, but to say read all the positive reviews and believe what they say. I was sad to see this book end, but the characters and events will stay with me. To me that is the sign of a meaningful novel that is well told. Narration is excellent after I had it play a 1.5 time. The original speed was a little too slow for me. Other than that read it!!!!
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