A Storm In The Blood by Jon Stephen Fink
My baby, Daniel, really liked this book. He attacked it when I wasn’t looking, chewed off a corner (and swallowed it!). He then kept trying to lunge at it throughout the time I was reading it.
And really, it sounded like something I would love too. Latvian anarchists in England in 1910? A famous incident in which the group clashes with police, ending in deaths? I mean, come on! You’ve got historical fiction, learning about a group I don’t know much about, and the event itself even happened? Dramatic, educational, right up my alley!
Unfortunately, the book really just didn’t end up playing out the right way for me. The beginning was quite promising, focusing on Rivka and her father’s humiliation by Russian soldiers, after which he attempts revenge, she gets caught in the middle of it, and has to flee to England.
Not long after that, though, the whole thing sort of fell apart for me. There were too many characters to keep track of easily, and that process was complicated by the fact they all fell somewhat flat for me. Because I really couldn’t get into any of their heads and understand their motivations, I was not myself motivated to remember who was who. I also found the action somewhat hard to follow at some points.
This book was not without strengths, however. The author had clearly done a great deal of research and really knows his subject. With the large cast of characters involved and their varying political leanings, this is no small feat. I’m sure not everyone would be as put off by the prose as I was either. Actually, as I thought about it more, I realized that the form reminded me somewhat of that in “Devil in the White City.” The difference for me is that “Devil in the White City” is classified as history and so I consider it rather engaging for the genre, but “A Storm in the Blood” is classified as fiction and thus seems to me to be dry for the genre.
The book would perhaps have been better if conceived as a work of history instead of historical fiction, but it certainly has a lot to teach those interested in the time period and topic. For those with little curiosity about the subject matter, though, I would recommend skipping this one.