The author's maternal grandfather died a year before the author, Tom Blubaugh was born. Years later, the author asked family members about his grandfather and they agreed on four facts. Mr. Blubaugh wrote Night of the Cossack based on these four facts. Night of the Cossack is a compelling adventure about a teenager who is forced to grow up quickly. The main character, Nathan Hertzfield faces many life or death situations during his saga. Join Nathan on his suspenseful journey through parts of Russia and Europe during the early 1900's.
I really enjoyed this book and read it quickly! Besides the novel being well-written, it drew me to another time and place. Plus, I forgot that I am a woman reading from a man's point of view because the author made me forget my gender as I read. I worried for Nathan/Stepan/Ivan's safety as if I were him. If you read the book you'll know why I listed three names. My heart broke for Stepan when he had to leave Rachael, and for enduring so many losses in his young life. It seemed he lost everyone he loved, and the last straw was his horse, but he was determined to survive and not to be defeated. He was a strong character and he had integrity. He was a great example of how a mother's love can instill that kind of nature in a young man through good upbringing.
In some ways this story reminded me of the movie Europa Europa where this German Jew who was gifted in languages did whatever he could to survive. In the movie, when he saw that the Germans were going to lose the second world war, he slipped over to the Russian side in an effort to survive. That film was based on a true story. I have always found the great lengths that humans will go to hurt others--even their own people--incredibly sad, but also interesting to study. There is evil in this world and has been since the beginning of time, but studying the person's motivation to do harm is what fascinates me.
I am a fan of history and of European history, but I also enjoy Russian history and reading about the insanity that occurred at the turn of the century (in the early 1900s,) because you can see the chaos percolating before the first world war breaks out and the persecution of Jews increases at an alarming rate until it becomes an epidemic in the 1930s and 1940s. That kind of extermination is worse that a severe flu strain that wipes out entire families because it does discriminate and targets only certain people groups--Jewish people--and is initiated by human ignorance and hate. I found the Night of the Cossack interesting in many respects. I found it especially fascinating how it shows the reduction of safe places in the world for Jews to live.
I loved the last few pages of the book and how it leaned toward a continuation of the story. I also loved how it showed the beginning seeds of a new faith journey for Nathan being planted. I still wished he could have been free to love Rachael back in Romania. I felt her pain when he had to leave, and his emotions being torn when she asked him to take her with him. But he refused because it was the right thing to do, and he was a good guy. He did what was right to save others, even if it might hurt his own plans. I'm hoping the next book will introduce Nathan to a new love that will bring him to a place where he finally belongs and has the family he's always wanted. Wonderful story!
Night of the Cossack was published by Bound by Faith Publishers and released in April 2011.