About the Book
Book Title: Hidden Among The Stars
Author: Melanie Dobson
Genre: Historical Fiction (However, this is a time-slip novel, so there is also a contemporary component to the story)
Release date: September 4, 2018
From the award-winning author of Catching the Wind, which Publishers Weekly called “unforgettable” and a “must-read,” comes another gripping time-slip novel about hidden treasure, a castle, and ordinary people who resisted evil in their own extraordinary way.
The year is 1938, and as Hitler’s troops sweep into Vienna, Austrian Max Dornbach promises to help his Jewish friends hide their most valuable possessions from the Nazis, smuggling them to his family’s summer estate near the picturesque village of Hallstatt. He enlists the help of Annika Knopf, his childhood friend and the caretaker’s daughter, who is eager to help the man she’s loved her entire life. But when Max also brings Luzia Weiss, a young Jewish woman, to hide at the castle, it complicates Annika’s feelings and puts their entire plan—even their very lives—in jeopardy. Especially when the Nazis come to scour the estate and find both Luzia and the treasure gone.
Eighty years later, Callie Randall is mostly content with her quiet life, running a bookstore with her sister and reaching out into the world through her blog. Then she finds a cryptic list in an old edition of Bambithat connects her to Annika’s story . . . and maybe to the long-buried story of a dear friend. As she digs into the past, Callie must risk venturing outside the safe world she’s built for a chance at answers, adventure, and maybe even new love.
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About the Author
Melanie Dobson is the award-winning author of nearly twenty historical romance, suspense, and time-slip novels including Catching the Wind and Chateau of Secrets . Three of her novels have won Carol Awards; Love Finds You in Liberty, Indiana won Best Novel of Indiana in 2010; and The Black Cloister won the Foreword Magazine Religious Fiction Book of the Year.
Melanie is the former corporate publicity manager at Focus on the Family and owner of the publicity firm Dobson Media Group. When she isn’t writing, Melanie enjoys teaching both writing and public relations classes at George Fox University.
Melanie and her husband, Jon, have two daughters. After moving numerous times with work, the Dobson family has settled near Portland, Oregon, and they love to hike and camp in the mountains of the Pacific Northwest and along the Pacific Coast. Melanie also enjoys exploring ghost towns and abandoned homes, helping care for kids in her community, and reading stories with her girls.
Visit Melanie online at www.melaniedobson.com.
Guest Post from Melanie
Hallstatt’s Hiding Places
Backpacking across Europe—that’s how my husband Jon and I decided to celebrate our fifth wedding anniversary. We savored the old world culture and charm as we hiked along Italy’s coast, toured medieval castles in Germany, and cruised the canals in Belgium; we both left a bit of our hearts in an ancient lakeside town called Hallstatt.
The moment we stepped off the ferryboat and into this storybook village, we crossed through a portal of sorts, traveling back several centuries in time. The rugged, snow-capped mountains around us and alpine lake, the quaint village with its church steeples and cobblestone lanes and waterfall that spilled into town—all of it captivated us.
Along the shore, hidden partially by trees, we could see spires of an abandoned castle, and I wanted to know its story. No one in Hallstatt could tell us who’d lived in the castle—at least, not in English—so my husband agreed to a new adventure. With a swan as our escort, we glided across the lake in an electric boat so I could study the rusty turrets, boarded windows, and wooden boathouse resting in the water like a felled log.
Instead of quelling my curiosity, the match of inspiration ignited my mind. Who had lived in this castle, and what happened there? I began writing in my journal that night, trying to capture my rogue thoughts on paper, hoping that one day a novel would emerge from the ashes of this castle’s story.
When we returned home, I began researching more of Hallstatt’s history and discovered that this region, in all of its beauty and mystique, had been infiltrated by an enemy in 1938. This town and the surrounding Salzkammergut became a mountain retreat for Nazi officials who built mansions on the shores of its many lakes and used salt mines to hide “ownerless treasure”—the gold bullion and artwork they’d stolen from the Jewish people.
The Nazis intended to build a Fourth Reich in this alpine fortress, but the Allies had other plans. Near the end of the war, these lakes became a dustbin of sorts, collecting whatever the enemy dumped into its waters—weapons, counterfeit banknotes, concentration camp lists—as they fled south from the Allied troops. The Devil’s Dustbin, locals call it.
Lake Hallstatt plunges more than four hundred feet between the fortress of mountains. Because of its depth and the many hiding places in the underwater forests, caves, and shifting sands, divers continue finding World War II artifacts today. Some still believe there’s a treasure trove buried on the bottom, but no one has reported finding any gold.
After our trip, a story about this castle and what happened to the heirlooms of the Austrian Jewish people continued to burn inside me until I finally put it on paper. So I built Schloss Schwansee—Castle of Swan Lake—in my mind, inspired by the castle along Lake Hallstatt, and created a cast of historical and contemporary characters who are searching for lost treasure.
Hidden Among the Stars is a time-slip novel about a castle and treasure and fairy tales, but most of all, it’s a story about God using ordinary people across Austria to resist evil in their own extraordinary way.
Sometimes there are books that change a reader’s life. These books worm their way into a reader’s heart and live there forever. Hidden Among the Stars is one such book for me. This story is superb, and it left my heart beautifully shattered. I found the writing in this novel to be stellar, the research impeccable, and the characters exquisitely crafted. Hidden Among the Stars is a must read for 2018!
Callie, one of the main characters, is my favorite. She could easily be my twin. I very much relate to her introvertedness, her fear of traveling, her love of books, and her innate need to hide from the world. At one point in the story Callie states, “Too many people, for too many hours, exhaust me.” Yes! This is totally me. It’s not that I don’t like people. I’m a high school teacher; clearly, I need to be around people. But it is physically and emotionally draining to be in large groups for a long period of time. I really love and need my alone time just as Callie does in this story.
Callie hides from people because she is trying to keep herself from emotional pain. Heartbreak hurts hard. I definitely get wanting to protect one’s self from heartache, sadness, and loss. The problem though with hiding from people is that you miss out on a lot of amazing experiences and moments. As I stated above, I’m a textbook introvert. I have been known in the past to skip out on my best friend’s Halloween and Christmas parties because I knew they would be large to-dos. Large to-dos terrify me. But, after unexpectedly losing my brother and dealing with my best friend’s cancer diagnosis and treatments, I have come to realize that we only have a small amount of time with our loved ones and we should not squander this precious time. Callie eventually realizes this herself, makes a very brave decision (for an introvert), and begins to live the life God always meant for her to live. I cheered quite loudly for her when she changes things in her life for the better!
There is a lot of violence and evil illustrated in this book. There is a Gestapo agent bent on annihilation. Kristallnacht is portrayed, as is the round up of completely innocent Jewish men for “questioning.” And, the overall ugliness that defined Hitler’s regime permeates this book from start to end. There were moments I had to step away from the book just so I could breathe. But, through all of this evil, no one blames God. Some of the characters question what God is allowing, but they never hate on God. It is so refreshing to read a book and find that the characters understand and accept that God allows things and the Devil is just pure evil. To me, it’s the difference between knowing the Bible and having a relationship with God versus claiming to know God and not having truly studied His Word. So, when the characters act in brave and courageous ways in this novel, it is always believable because their relationships with God were real. They knew His Word and they knew Him. This is the lesson I took away from this beautiful story — real bravery and courage comes only when we have a full and right relationship with our Creator. A full and right relationship allowed David to stand against a giant, Daniel to withstand lions, and Esther to face a Hamon. And, it’s how the remnant few survived the Holocaust. Truly, this is an excellent reminder for me today.
Hidden Among the Stars is one of the most stunning novels I have ever read. I am blessed to have read this heartbreaking, yet hopeful, book. This story and characters will stick with me long after I’ve read the final page. I highly, highly recommend this read!
I received a review copy of this novel in eBook form from the author via NetGalley and Celebrate Lit. In no way has this influenced my review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.
To celebrate her tour, Melanie is giving away a grand prize package that includes a $25 Amazon gift card, Catching the Wind paperback, and Hidden Among the Stars paperback!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway!
Click the link below to enter.
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