Nora’s Review of: The Forest of Vanishing Stars by Kristin Harmel

The Forest of Vanishing Stars

By Kristin Harmel

Published by Gallery Books

Release Date July 6, 2021


WWII Historical Fiction

Jewish Refugees

Forest People

BACK COVER: The New York Times bestselling author of the “heart-stopping tale of survival and heroism” (People) The Book of Lost Names returns with an evocative coming-of-age World War II story about a young woman who uses her knowledge of the wilderness to help Jewish refugees escape the Nazis—until a secret from her past threatens everything.

After being stolen from her wealthy German parents and raised in the unforgiving wilderness of eastern Europe, a young woman finds herself alone in 1941 after her kidnapper dies. Her solitary existence is interrupted, however, when she happens upon a group of Jews fleeing the Nazi terror. Stunned to learn what’s happening in the outside world, she vows to teach the group all she can about surviving in the forest—and in turn, they teach her some surprising lessons about opening her heart after years of isolation. But when she is betrayed and escapes into a German-occupied village, her past and present come together in a shocking collision that could change everything.

Inspired by incredible true stories of survival against staggering odds, and suffused with the journey-from-the-wilderness elements that made Where the Crawdads Sing a worldwide phenomenon, The Forest of Vanishing Stars is a heart-wrenching and suspenseful novel from the #1 internationally bestselling author whose writing has been hailed as “sweeping and magnificent” (Fiona Davis, New York Times bestselling author), “immersive and evocative” (Publishers Weekly), and “gripping” (Tampa Bay Times).

NORA’S REVIEW: I’ve read many WWII books, but nothing remotely similar to this one. The beginning reminded me of a fairy tale story where an old woman does something that changes the course of a small child (like what happened to Sleeping Beauty, Hansel and Gretel) Then things change and young Yona is being educated by the older woman who lives under the stars. Yona does not mind being in the woods and is eager to learn anything the woman wants to teach her.

Then WWII happens and the Jews head into the woods. That is where Yona meets people for the first time. She is not sure what to do. The old woman said not to talk to anyone, help anyone because they will hurt her. The book is told in first person, which makes this tale a very up-close and personal adventure. I was captivated by Yona and how she has soaked up all the languages and survival skills the old woman taught her. She is a smart, courageous young lady learning to navigate the terrors of WWII and the desperate people fleeing into the woods. Yona faces the challenges ahead of her with determination and respect. I liked how the author had Yona examine her own feelings, thoughts, and motives as she navigates the world without the old woman by her side. This story has a strong sense of place as the woods come alive and make the story unique on many levels.

This is a wonderful read and one that would work well for your next book club pick. I enjoyed the author’s note to readers about her research and all that was true and what she changed to make the story work. This is the first novel I have read by this author; it won’t be the last. It is a book you won’t soon forget.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have received a complimentary copy of this book by the publisher through NetGalley. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”

Nora St. Laurent

TBCN Where Book Fun Begins!

The Book Club Network blog

About Vicki Hinze

USA Today Bestselling and Award-Winning Author of 50+ books, short stories/novellas and hundreds of articles. Published in as many as 63 countries and recognized by Who's Who in the World as an author and an educator. Former featured Columnist for Social-IN Worldwide Network and Book Fun Magazine. Sponsor/Founder of Vicki's latest novels are: in the Philanthropists series: The Guardian. In the StormWatch series, Deep Freeze. FMI visit
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