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Reviewed by Tammy Ruggles for Readers' Favorite
The Book of Uriel by Elyse Hoffman is a mesmerizing work of historical fiction. Set during the Holocaust of World War 2, a ten-year-old boy named Uriel has always been on the outside looking in. He was born mute and ironically lives in a village boasting a choir. But his saving grace is writing stories in a book that he cherishes. His people are known for their stories of angelic beings and malevolent creatures, but his stories are truer than fiction when the Holocaust burns its way through his village. Enter another character, Uwe, a German linguist who helps Uriel and doesn't always agree with his duties in the army. The messenger angels Uriel writes about bring him some distressing information concerning Michael, guardian angel of the Jewish people. This sets a search and rescue mission in motion because Uriel knows the Jewish people need Michael to protect them. Can Uriel save Michael from the Angel of Death, and spare the lives of millions of people?
I love this book. It's more than good versus evil. The author has magically combined history with fantasy, resulting in an irresistibly engrossing story. Let's start with Uriel. He is such an endearing character. Born unable to speak, he "talks" with the written word--the stories he writes in a golden notebook. As the plot progresses, the stakes are raised higher, and this little boy is carrying the weight of the world on his young shoulders. He's a light shining in a dark place. But he has help along the way through Uwe, even though his life could be in danger as well. Uwe is a wonderful character, atypical and interesting--almost a fantasy figure himself. Hoffman is a born storyteller, and she executes her ideas in a sound, beautiful way. Illustrations are peppered throughout. You'll find layer upon layer in the themes--stories within stories--an enriching reading experience to say the least. And for such a black time in history, you will feel hope along the way; mostly through Uriel, but others as well. The Book of Uriel by Elyse Hoffman is that award-worthy book you've been looking for.