This week, the CFBA is touring A Valley of Betrayal, a novel by Tricia Goyer, the first book in a new series of historical fiction centered around a little known civil war that tore apart Spain in the middle of the great depression, which I learned from the book was a major prelude to WWII.
A Valley of Betrayal is the story of a young woman, who filled with romantic notions and dreams of walking down the aisle in a blue wedding dress and happily ever after, follows her heart into Spain just as it is on the brink of civil war, after the communists win the recent election and the nazis demand a do-over with bombers. As the title suggests, the brutal realities of war provide a rude awakening and she has to choose between turning back towards home or taking sides in the conflict and assisting in a war not her own.
Now, for most of us, this is definitely going to be a lesson in history, but have you ever read a history book cover to cover, had difficulty putting it down, and enjoyed it? No? If this book is history, it’ll change that.
I’d have handled the interior monologue differently, but overall, the craftmanship was pretty good. The plot line with Deion didn’t come up often enough, so when it did, it took me a few minutes to remember who he was and at times I felt like I’d forgotten significant details there. She did an excellent job handling those of us who catch on too fast, managed to convince me I was wrong, only to later reveal maybe I’d been right after all, which gives the author and reader both their kicks. I loved the way she handled the villains–I have never seen a nazi so fleshed out before. She made it very hard to hate Ritter, and he does some very nasty things to people she worked very hard to make us like.
She also handles deftly an interesting aspect to the war: the nazis and the communists fighting, each wanting to be the hero erraticating an evil ideology, and both completely blind to their own faults. It makes me think America stayed out of WWII so long because we couldn’t decide which ideology–Communism or Nazism–was worse. The Japanese of course made up our minds for us.
To me, this is the best part of the book, the characters are all human, even the Nazi, and that’s not an easy feat at all, plus the way she brought several seemingly unrelated plot lines together.
The worst part, to me, is a book jacket synopsis that doesn’t accurately describe the story (because to do so would reveal plot turns she evidently didn’t want spoiled) and a cliffhanger ending that leaves unresolved the relational issues that had kept me turning pages even more than the issues than the mentally-stimulating issues mentioned above. We spend a good portion of the book chasing a mystery, only in the end to find out we’ll have to read the second book to get an answer, and maybe even the third.
Virtually everything else about the book was fab, but this for me was a huge disappointment and let down. So if you hate cliffhangers as much as I do, and can afford to buy more than one book, wait until book two comes out and get them together. If you don’t mind my fate, having to wait until book two comes out to find out what really happened with Sofie’s fiance Michael, or find the offered solice sufficient without the answer, enjoy!