Katarina’s Dark Shadow
Sanctified Hearts Publishing (2021)
Reviewed by Rachel Dehning for Reader Views (11/2021)
“Katarina’s Dark Shadow” by MJ Krause-Chivers is a timeless story about love, loss, and staying true to yourself.
Set in the early 1900s during WWI, the story opens with Katarina and her family celebrating the wedding of her older sister, Anna. It soon becomes clear that marital bliss is an illusion, as evil overtakes the world, with little hope for current love. Katarina’s family are Mennonites – faithful followers of Christ’s word, but separate themselves from others. Katarina’s family lives in a time when men hold a more prominent social standing than women, with women expected to have one goal in life: to become a wife and mother. Readers follow Katarina as she strives to find her place in society while battling the effects of trauma inflicted at a young age. Fast forward several decades, Peter has found Katarina’s diaries in a pile of rubble amongst the chaos. Katarina has been declared dead for years, yet the discovery of her diaries must be more than a coincidence? Peter pours over her vulnerable words from her teenage years and studies them to discover their hidden meaning, along with their relevance to his life.
“Katarina’s Dark Shadow” will hold up well over the years. While discussing just some of the horrors of the Russian Revolution, the story is both historical and entertaining. The author relays facts to the reader through the dialogue, with some artistic liberties, to make the story enjoyable and worthwhile. Living in twenty-first-century America, it’s tough to imagine living in a society with men viewed as superior to women; it is unheard of nowadays due to pride and such a strong push for equality among not only men versus women. Living firmly in your faith, such as the Mennonites claim to do, is commendable, as this is nearly unheard of in today’s society. Standing firm in your personal beliefs is also admirable, given any situation. Lastly, mental health due to a traumatic event could not have been presented better; Krause-Chivers shows how, even today, this topic is viewed similarly as in the past among some, even though mental health is more well-known today than ever.
“Katarina’s Dark Shadow” is a lovely play on words that is suitable for history buffs and really anyone. The end of the story concludes part one of the Russian Mennonite Chronicles, leaving anticipation of what part two will reveal.