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Reviewed by Steve Leshin for Readers' Favorite
The Reschen Valley lies near the border of Austria and Switzerland, which becomes important as the tale moves forward. The story centers on the life of the main protagonist, Fritz, short for Fritzl. As a young lad of 13, Fritz is afraid he will be forced to enter the priesthood by his father. As it turns out, he and younger brother, Max Junior, are sent to help their grandparents run an inn located in the next town. As both boys mature, events take place that cause Fritz to engage in smuggling to earn extra cash. At the inn, he soon discovers it is not their grandparents who run it. It falls to two female employees of the inn. One of them is Jutta Mair, a feisty lass a few years older than Fritz, who orders the two boys around. Soon Fritz copes with sexual tensions regarding Jutta. This leads to events that change his life as the winds of war approach. We find Fritz in a ragtag unit of fighters as the war breaks out. His hormones yearn for a young woman named Cecilia, who is forbidden by her mean father to have anything to do with Fritz. This leads to further complications.
The Smuggler of Reschen Pass: A Reschen Valley Novella by Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger is an engaging montage of regional culture, character studies and historical drama all wrapped up in the events before and after World War I. The Smuggler of Reschen Pass, as the title implies, is central to the plot as we follow Fritz and, with the war, the hardships with his family, his choices and the consequences they cause. Being a novella, as opposed to a novel, it left me wanting more. Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger based her story and the main character on true events and did her research quite well. With a gift for dialogue and description, the author keeps the reader engaged. What finally happens to Fritz and Cecilia? I can hardly wait to read the next installment.