Blog Tour: The Book of Uriel


In the fires of World War II, a child must save his people from darkness…

Ten-year-old Uriel has always been an outcast. Born mute in a Jewish village known for its choir, he escapes into old stories of his people, stories of angels and monsters. But when the fires of the Holocaust consume his village, he learns that the stories he writes in his golden notebook are terrifyingly real.

In the aftermath of the attack, Uriel is taken in by Uwe, a kind-hearted linguist forced to work for the commander of the local Nazi Police, the affably brutal Major Brandt. Uwe wants to keep Uriel safe, but Uriel can’t stay hidden. The angels of his tales have come to him with a dire message: Michael, guardian angel of the Jewish people, is missing. Without their angel, the Jewish people are doomed, and Michael’s angelic brethren cannot search for him in the lands corrupted by Nazi evil.

With the lives of millions at stake, Uriel must find Michael and free him from the clutches of the Angel of Death…even if that means putting Uwe in mortal danger. The Book of Uriel is a heartbreaking blend of historical fiction and Jewish folklore that will enthrall fans of The Book Thief and The World That We Knew.

About The Author

Elyse Hoffman strives to tell historical tales with new twists: she loves to meld WWII and Jewish history with fantasy, folklore, and the paranormal. She has written six works of Holocaust historical fiction: the five books of The Barracks of the Holocaust and The Book of Uriel.

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My Thoughts

Firstly, thank you to The Write Reads and the author for a copy of the book with a request for an honest review.

I chose to take part in this tour as the Holocaust is one of the periods of history that fascinate me the most. I was intrigued to see how the author would weave together the historical context with the fantasy elements.

Uriel is a 10 year old, mute Jewish boy whose family have perished in a raided village. A German translator, Uwe, happens across his body in the rubble and sees a small golden notebook in which Uriel has written the stories told to him by his community. As Uwe departs with the Ordungpolizei for whome he will be their interpreter, Uriel is given the task of rescuing the Archangel Michael by completing 5 tasks for the Angel of Death. He is gifted with a hamsa to protect him. All evil people will be blind to his presence and only the righteous will see him. As he travels to the next settlement, his is reunited with Uwe, the only person who can see him. But as Uriel completes these tasks for the Angel of Death, he endangers Uwe’s life.

I really appreciated how the author intricately linked stories from Jewish folklore and the WWII setting. I felt like I learnt a lot about Jewish culture and traditional stories. The characters of Uriel and Uwe were loveable and I felt myself rooting for them throughout, while always having that foreboding feeling that tragedy would befall the pair at some point. Without giving away the plot, I loved the epilogue about the museum as I felt it was a fitting tribute to such a harrowing period in history, as well as the characters.

The book was incredibly easy to read. I must admit, apart from the few graphic descriptions, I felt like the prose had a middle grade fiction feel. I didn’t find it overly sophisticated or original, but the story was enchanting nonetheless, and I think there is something to be said for a story that pretty much unfurls in exactly the way you think it will. Uriel is mute, but he can read and write and I think the characters missed a really obvious trick until about 80% of the way through of actually writing to communicate. This would have avoided a lot of struggle – then again, if that was the case, would the action have unfolded in the same way? I doubt it. The elements of the 4 tasks Uriel had to complete reminded me a lot of the film Pan’s Labyrinth and the atmosphere of the fantastical and ominous threat did come through.

Overall, The Book of Uriel was an enjoyable read. If you are interested in folklore and historical fiction, this is the book for you!

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