Don’t judge a book by its cover! This sentence holds especially true for Kate Williams‘ The Storms of War. Don’t expect your usual light historical/romantic fiction fare. Why? Just read my review.
Thank you Orion Books for a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis quoted from Orion Books¹:
In the idyllic early summer of 1914, life is good for the de Witt family. Rudolf and Verena are planning the wedding of their daughter Emmeline, while their eldest son, Arthur, is studying in Paris and Michael is just back from his first term at Cambridge. Celia, the youngest of the de Witt children, is on the brink of adulthood, and secretly dreams of escaping her carefully mapped-out future and exploring the world.
But the onslaught of war changes everything and soon the de Witts find themselves sidelined and in danger of losing everything they hold dear. As Celia struggles to make sense of the changing world around her, she lies about her age to join the war effort and finds herself embroiled in a complex plot that puts not only herself but those she loves in danger.
Kate Williams’ The Storms of War is set during the Great War in England and France and the detailed descriptions of the various settings help you to envision what the war must have been like. While Williams paints a clear picture of the gruesome wartime at the Western Front in France, she doesn’t forget to also write about the state of her settings before and after the war. One of these places is Stoneythorpe Hall, the home of the de Witt family, and I really enjoyed reading about how it changed during the war.
In my opinion, this novel is the coming-of-age story of Celia de Witt, our main character. She is the youngest of the de Witt children and after the war breaks out she has to grow up very fast. Child-like, dreamy and naive Celia soon adapts to the harsh reality of the wartime and turns into a practical young woman. Only later in the book, she somehow seems to be out of character for a short while. I could write a lot about the other characters. They all seem to have their own story to tell which isn’t surprising, as this is the first book in a trilogy.
As I said before, when I saw the cover of The Storms of War, I expected light historical/romantic fiction. What I didn’t expect is a novel that is filled with blood and causes so much pain. I was glad it turned out that way. The Storms of War is a well-researched book that I’d recommend to everyone who can stomach a hefty dose of war and its consequences on people’s lives.