Wednesday, April 19, 2023

To Dream of Shadows ~Steve N. Lee ~ A Book Review

To Dream of Shadows is a book that I could not put down.  While I love many different types of novels, I find that I have been drawn to those that take place before/during and after the Second World War.

man in tunnel

barbed wire


I know there is a fascination with all that went on during that time and I'm sure that having had family in the European world during that horrific time, makes those novels seem to come alive for me.

It was a horrible time in our history for sure.  Given what we know now about the atrocities that took place during that time, but, we also hear of immense heroic acts as well.

concentration camp

Even though the German army was the perpetrators of many of these terrible deeds, there were those who used their rank to undermine the intentions of the Nazi party!  Just think of Schindler's List as one of those!

enclosed by barbed wire

To Dream of Shadows falls into that category of book.  While the Nazi's were the POWER , many of the people who found themselves in positions within the Reich,  really thought that the intention of the labor camps was to make the workforce (they were not humans) productive for the needs of the Reich.  To be sure,  these individuals were totally deluded in their thinking.  The Reich did not care about productivity of their workforce (Jews were replaceable), as much as it cared about showing the Jews who was in power and yielding that power without consideration for anything humane or decent.  The Germans did not think that the Jews were human, they were less than the family dog!  They were there to be dominated, made to feel less than dirt! Their main use was being worked death or on really bad days, being used for the entertainment of the officers!  They would find all kinds of ways to make a Jew suffer for their very sordid amusement. When morality gives way to power, all manner of abuse is possible and some of these officers devised ways that were so horrific that even today we get the chills at the thought of what was happening in those prison camps.

Even in these terrible circumstances, the light of hope is never extinguished.  There will always be hope and that is what author Steve N. Lee uses to drive this story.  Hope in the midst of every possible horror and dehumanizing situation, can keep the strong willed alive!  

From the time of her incarceration at 18, Inge has been relocated away from her family to a hellhole of a war prison.  Not knowing what has happened to the rest of her family, Inge undergoes all manner of deprivation.  Starving and being worked almost to death, she finds her inner strength with the hopes of liberation. But can there be hope right here in the midst of this prison?

Heinz, aka as Rudi,  one of her captors and an SS Sergeant, has been fed the lies about the Jews since childhood.  He never questions what is happening right before his eyes until he falls in love with one of the prisoners and begins to see that they are just as human as he is.  

He becomes a bright light in a very dark place, trying to make things better for all those captives.  But his intentions do not go unnoticed by others in the rank and file, at the prison.  Turning in one of their own (who is helping the enemy) would mean extra honors for them.  Heinz needs to watch his back as his subordinates are getting concerned about his treatment of their "subjects/prisoners".

Can he get out of this squalid place with the prisoner that he adores? He and Inge can be put to death in a heartbeat if their relationship becomes public. It is a forbidden love and the consequences of this union could result in death for both of them.  

What can be done?  You will have to read this book and see what happens.  Just be ready to hold your breath in anticipation.

Steve N. Lee has done a masterful job in retelling this story and I know if you are anything like me, you will have a hard time putting this book down.  Suffice it to say this could make a great movie along the lines of Schindler's List and maybe open your eyes to what the human spirit is capable of when love is the driving force.

***All pictures used in this blog post come from Pixabay, thank you!


Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


  1. This sounds like a wonderful, perhaps even encouraging, book even though it takes place in one of the most horrific times and places of contemporary history. Your suggestion to be ready to hold your breath in anticipation makes me want to read it immediately. Anything that can hold your attention that much, must be a great book.

    1. It is very damning as far as the inhumanity, and disregard for the Jewish people, but, in the end love makes all things possible. Even changing hearts that have been hardened by hatred!

  2. As a Jewish person whose grandmother escaped the horrific Russian anti-Jewish pogroms as a young girl in the early 1900s (1917-1920) and whose father fought in WWII, this story hits close to home for me. Racism is, by its nature, dehumanizing. And, as soon as we dehumanize another human being, we desensitize and dehumanize ourselves. Love is the antidote, and it is powerful! I am grateful that there were at least some Nazis who, despite their indoctrination, rediscovered their humanity through the power of love.

    1. We can never let this type of hatred happen again. Our Jewish forfathers and mothers suffered far too much to have another "holocaust" happen! Unfortunately we seem to be very slow to learn our lessons. We do need to work far harder learning to love others even though they are different. <3

  3. Even, today, I'm still shocked by the horrible aspects of the human race. It's beyond comprehension to me that the Nazis believed what they did, and did what they did - horrendous! This story is at least a story of hope amidst this horror, and an example that love is the only answer to any of this.

    1. We as a human race seem to be capable of greatness and capable of great stupidity too! We really need to adjust our motivations when it comes to our "neighbor" or who is our family. When we think that we are all related, these atrocities cannot be possible. But power and hatred are very strong emotions and motivators.....unfortunately!

  4. Definitely a book that needs to be read and kept on everyone's book shelf. Thanks for this interesting review, Olivia.

    1. It really does need to be read, the horrors are spine chilling! Who can be so cruel? I guess hatred and power are a toxic combination that makes anything possible. We need to let go of that stuff!

  5. Thank you for sharing my book with your readers, Olivia. I'm so pleased you enjoyed it!

    1. Thank you for writing such a captivating book. I have read many novels set in this time period and I must say that your story had my skin crawling and my mind opened up to what the combination of power and hatred can make the human spirit capable of!


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