Tuesday, September 22, 2015

REVIEW: Tsura by Heather Anastasiu

Tsura
by Heather Anastasiu

Publisher: ?? Self-published?
Page Count: 248
Release Date: August 18, 2015
Format: Kindle

How got: Kindle Unlimited

First attention getter: email from author

Synopsis:

From GoodReads:

In WWII Romania, Tsura, a young Roma (gypsy) woman, has no choice but to leave her lover, Andrei, behind and marry the grandson of the man whose basement she and Andrei have been hiding in. An epic WWII saga, for fans of The Bronze Horseman and Outlander.

“It won’t be a real marriage.” Tsura put her hands to Andrei’s shirt and pulled him in close. “I’ll never share a bed with him. I love you. I only do what I must to keep us all safe. Once the war ends, it’ll be as if it never was.” She caught his face in her hands. “I am only yours, Andrei.”

“Yes, you’re only mine,” Andrei bent over and growled in her ear. “When you put on that dress for him and walk down the aisle in that ugly goy church,” he kissed her hard before putting a strong hand to the back of her neck, pulling her forehead to his, “you think of me, here. When you say your vows to that man, you remember that it’s me who has owned your body tonight.” He again pressed his lips to hers. It was a claiming.

My Thoughts:

Star Rating - 4

This is definitely an emotional ride. Tsura is such a passionate, heart-on-sleeve, and vibrant personality that the reader can’t help but be drawn into her journey. We feel her every soar of passion and romance, all her betrayals, her sorrows, and her struggle to survive. It’s an out-of-control train ride all the way up to the end, ratcheting up the emotional tension with each turn of the page.

At first, I wasn’t that impressed with Tsura. The actions she took in the beginning of the novel struck me the wrong way. Anybody willing to risk the life of those hiding them for a quickie against the outside wall of the house reads as selfish and ungrateful to me.

Yet, once she’s married and in Bucharest, away from Andrei really, I started to like her more and more. She grew as a character, maturing as the war and time progressed. She started to see that not everything is in shades of black or white and that the world is a crueler place than her dreams of married bliss with Andrei. Sometimes she would back slide into two-dimensional snap judgments and immature thought patterns, but those lessened in frequency as the book progressed.

I found the setting different from your usual WWII story. Nazi ally Romania isn’t an often written about spot. Seeing how they oppressed and persecuted their Jewish population, propagating huge pogroms like the Iasi pogrom and deporting to Transnistria yet refusing to give their Jews to the Nazis to send to the death camps was an interesting point. I also liked exploring the small resistance movement in Romania through Mihai’s and Tsura’s forging and spying activities.

I do have to say, though, that I ended the book ticked off rather than satisfied. It wasn’t a cliffhanger exactly; the reader isn’t left wondering if Tsura will survive a predicament or if Mihai will escape a situation.

However, there’s such a huge uptick in the emotional tension that builds and builds up to the very end with absolutely no resolution to come down from it. The emotions are of the gut-wrenching, soul-searing, heart-breaking variety. I was to the point of screaming at my Kindle with tears streaming down my cheeks.

And then suddenly: The End. Wait! What?!?!!? That was my reaction. The ending almost felt like emotional blackmail to get you to go get the second book right away. It worked on this reader; I’ve already gotten book two on my Kindle and have started it (thank God for Kindle Unlimited!). But that lack of any emotional resolution whatsoever really kills this book’s final impressions.

Great characters, emotional resonance that are off the charts, and an intriguing setting/timeframe of WWII make this an interesting read. Only the ending kills it; hopefully book two will end differently and give me a better impression of this duology. I’d recommend the book to lovers of romances and character studies in WWII; just have that second book prepared for instant reading and pretend that they’re all one book. Do that and I don’t think the abrupt ending will have as much power.

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