Under Darkening Skies

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 28 Jan 2020

Member Reviews

I really enjoyed reading Under the Darkening Skies and I learnt about a whole other aspect of WWII that I never knew about. The Book is set in both war time Norway and Canada in 2011. It follows the story of Ingrid and her husband Olav and what happens when Ingrid is forced by circumstances to become part of the Lebensborn program which is created to breed the perfect Ayran babies. And what it was like to be them after the war was over. Jump to 2011 and we meet their son Arnold who is triggered by some of his mothers last words to look into the birth of her son Ulrich.
It is a predictable story line but it was great to learn about a new aspect of the war.
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This was an enthralling book set in German-occupied Norway during WW2. I’ve never read anything about how the Norwegians suffered, and the revelations shocked me to the core. We encounter the Germans’ obsession with creating the perfect Aryan race, but I’ve never heard of their outrageous, salacious Lebensborn program. The führer Hitler had a bizarre ideology of making Europe a better place. Ingrid is drawn into this horrendous scheme through bribery by an SS Officer while her sick mother and taciturn, long-suffering fiancé Olav look on helplessly. It evokes the sick black side of human nature in wartime. A punishing read that I’ll never forget. Thank you to NetGalley and Amazon Publishing UK.
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What an interesting storyline! 
The story begins in Norway in the final years of the Second World War.  Ingrid's world turns upside down when her dad is killed in a trawler incident followed the invasion of the German army.
Ingrid becomes close to her neighbour Olav but she also receives unwanted attention from Franz, a SS officer.
The book flits between WW2 and Canada in 2011. Ingrid is very dying and she is talking out loud. Her son Arnold is very confused to what he's hearing and he needs to find out the truth.
The book covers some ideologies that the Third Reich believed in; breeding pure race. But the power of love, determination and friendship is the key to survival.
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lady in her late teens when the German army infiltrated her town  and she was forced to be her mother’s caretaker and the provider for their household.  Without the help of Olaf, a man who lived across the road, she never would have made it.  He would generously repair things around the house and generously bring them food and firewood. 
As time would have it, the visits became more frequent and a romance blossomed between the two.  
Much to the dismay of Ingrid, there was a German soldier that had taken an interest in her.  Despite having no interest in him, his interest only increased.  He seemed to turn up every where she went.  His presence was very intimidating, considering the very harsh treatment she had witnessed the townspeople endure from the Nazis.  Throughout all of this, Olaf was becoming increasingly angry with the unwanted attention the Nazi soldier was bestowing on Ingrid, now his fiancée. 
War had taken a toll on their little coastal town and money was scarce.  Most people were bartering goods and services for food and other much needed items. Sadly, Ingrid’s mother became very ill. There was no medicine that Ingrid and Olaf could afford.  After pooling their resources, the money they had would only provide a day or two of medicine.  Due to her desperation, Ingrid chose to do the unthinkable.  And who should witness the entire thing but Klaus, the German SS guard who was interested in her!   It became clear that there would be a consequence for her actions.  She either had to participate in the set consequence or her mother would pay the price of death.  Neither choice was easy...   Regardless of the choice, some one was going to be hurt.  

Fast forward 50 years and we meet Arnold, the son of Olaf and Ingrid, who lives in Toronto. Years ago, the family had immigrated from Norway to Canada.  At the current time, Ingrid was old and ill and Arnold was helping care for.  Due to her poor health and age, Ingrid would ramble  on in both English and Norwegian.  Names were mentioned of whom Arnold knew nothing of...   and a secretive envelope was found with a mysterious note inside amongst his mother’s belongings.  
Arnold has to make some choices regarding the mysterious ramblings from his mother and the secretive envelope with a curious messages inside.  
What will Arnold do and what will he find out?

I really enjoyed the subject matter of this book.  I intentionally left out some of the subject matter in order to maintain some anticipation of what might happen next!  I very much preferred the characters we originally met in 1940’s Norway versus the 1990’s Canadians. 
I will happily give this book 4 stars.  I truly did enjoy the story and the informational content as well.  
#netgalley #raykingfisher #amazonpublishinguk #underdarkeningskies
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Thank you to Netgalley for this advanced reader's copy in return for my honest review. This is the first book that I have read that it set in Norway during WW2. Enjoyed it immeasurably. This story is told in two time lines and I have a very particular love for this style of writing.
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Published on my blog:

I'm currently reading Under the darkening skies by Ray Kingfisher. I got this book from Netgalley as an ARC. This is a historical fiction book about World War 2, but with a twist, so that's what appealed to me. I'm really liking it so far. It's very well written and the story is fascinating and fast pace. Maybe I'm even going to give it 5 stars... 

This wasn't a 5 star for me unfortunately. I think the topic of this book is very important, also the different sides of one story. The build up of this book was also pretty good. What I didn't really like was one perspective that was very hard for me to figure out and I think that doesn't need to be that way in a historical fiction. In the beginning of the book one or two parts felt repetitive and that was a bit annoying. My enjoyment of this book was also not really high, maybe because of the topic, but it still counts for me in a rating. Therefore I gave this book 3.5 stars.
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Oslo during WWII, Ingrid Solberg has to make a decision that no one should have to make, and can’t tell her loved ones why she is doing it.
70 years later in Toronto, Canada,  her son. Arnold finds information after her death that makes him question everything he thought he knew about his past. He has to return home to Norway, where he was born, to discover the truth.

I enjoyed this book, although I was slightly disappointed with the predictability of it at times I was very interested in the Norwegian peoples war. I knew that the Nazis had wanted to create the perfect Ayran race, but hadn’t heard of the Lebensborn Program. Very thought provoking. 

Thanks to netgalley and the publishers for the ARC in return for an honest opinion.
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I am a huge World War II era historical fiction fan. Under Darkening Skies hits all the marks I enjoy reading about in this genre. I think one of the things that fascinates me in these type of stories is the heroism of everyday people. Citizens who just want to lead a quiet life and are thrust into unimaginable circumstances and can't help but do the right thing for their families, their country and sometimes complete strangers. I think Ingrid and Olav in this book are such heroes though their heroism is more self motivated than what is usually written for this subject.

This story is told in two time lines. There is 2011 where we meet Ingrid as a dying elderly woman and her devoted son Arnold. The other time line is the beginning of WWII and Germany's occupation of Norway. I was fascinated by this premise because I had never read any books or even seen any movies that have dealt with Norway's part in WWII. From this novel I learned quite a few things that I later investigated on my own to get a better perspective of it. It's high praise when a fiction book entices you to read more non fiction.

Ingrid is a young lady and lives a modest life in a small fishing town with her parents when Germany takes over her country. Her father is killed in a boating accident and her and her mother struggle to survive until her neighbor Olav, a carpenter by trade and a resistance fighter in secret, takes a shine to Ingrid and  becomes her savior in so many selfless ways.

The main plot of the story cleverly involves the horrific program the Nazis implemented called Lebensborn. The goal of this program was to breed the perfect Nazi. A blond, blue eyed, sturdy child to be the future perfect specimen of a human as seen through the eyes of the Nazi leadership. In fact, one of the main reasons Germany invaded Norway was because of their highly concentrated population of blond blue eyed sturdy women. 

The author, Ray Kingfisher, weaves a story that despite the horror of the times is also a beautiful love story. We should all have an Olav in our lives to be our partner or even better a father who truly knows the meaning of unconditional love. Though Ingrid is our heroine and she is forced to make the most disdainful of choices to save her family, for me it was Olav who brought me to tears with his selfless love for his country, Ingrid and her mother, and their children.

Sadly, when the Lebensborn program ended the children produced from it, as well as their mothers, we're treated as traitors rather than victims and by the time Norway acknowledged their mishandling of the situation most of them had already past away suffering untold discrimination and abuse. Incorporating this real life travesty into a story of love and heroism is beyond impressive.

The book contains some mysteries which I was quick to figure out but it didn't take away from me wanting to continue the journey that Ingrid and Olav were on from occupied Norway to the frontier lands of Canada and Toronto. 

I was not in agreement with how the author represented the life of Franz, a Nazi soldier, who I believe would not have felt about his life the way he describes it at the end of the book. This feeling I freely admit has to do with my own Jewish heritage.  Interestingly the plight of Jews during this time is mentioned only briefly in the book but it shows how other countries truly did not understand until it was too late the atrocities of the Nazi regime.

I recommend this book for  historical fiction fans but also for romance fans. It's not a typical love story but it's a love that keeps the human spirit alive in this very original story.

I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.
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I really enjoyed this book. I felt that it was a bit simplistically written but that the story told is definitely worth reading. I knew a bit about this part of World War 2. This book was an eye opening read. I got totally caught up in the characters lives and wanted to know what happened to them. I will remember this book for a long time.

Thank you to Netgalley for my copy.
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Thanks so much to NetGalley, Amazon Publishing UK and Ray Kingfisher for giving me the chance to read his new book: Under Darkening Skies.

Oslo Norway 1940, Ingrid Solberg is eighteen she lives with her parents, her father Anders is a fisherman and her mother Helga is a housewife. Of course they're concerned that the Germans invade Poland but like most Norwegians they didn't think WW II will effect them and why worry about it?
One day Ingrid notices that something is happening in the town square and she goes to investigate. In the distance she can see row upon row of a grey mass moving towards her, it's not long before German soldiers march into Oslo and Norway has been invaded. Hardly a shot was fired, the German army crossed the border and took over the country. Ingrid arrives home to tell her mother, she finds her crying and her beloved father has been killed when his shipping trawler hit a stray mine and the Solberg women's lives are changed forever. 

German soldiers are everywhere, on every street corner and it's very intimidating.
Soon the German's start enforcing change, it's now illegal to own a radio, ration books are needed to buy food, many things like medicine are very expensive, people are issued with identity papers and they must carry them at all times. The couple next door are arrested, they had been involved in the publication of the Light Newspaper, members of Norway's resistance, their son Olav was badly beaten up and he's not taken into custody. Olav and Ingrid become friends, he cuts fire wood for her mother, they work together in the community vegetable garden, to grow much needed extra food for everyone, they fall in love and get engaged.

Toronto Canada 2011, Arnold Jacobsen, is visiting his mother at the Toronto Western Hospital, she's 90 very unwell and is fading fast. His mother is losing her battle, she also seems to be confused, when she can speak she's not making a lot of sense and she keeps asking for someone called Ulrich? Arnold and his sister Barbra have no idea who he is, after their mother passes away, they have the horrible task of going through their mothers things, they find two suitcases, one contains a unopened letter and the siblings know very little about his parents life before they moved to Canada? Arnold has been divorced for years, he has very little confidence, he hasn't dated and his only friend is Merlene she's a nurse who cared for his mother in hospital. He had no idea that Merlene fancied him, he thought they were just friends and he pleasantly surprised when she wants to be more than a good friend! They decide to go to Norway together, to discover what happened to his parents during WW II, over 70 years ago, why they cut all ties with Norway and who is Ulrich?

Nothing could prepare Arnold for what he discovers about his mother, father, what happened to them both during WW II, it forced them to move to Canada, cut off all contact with their homeland and go into hiding.

His mother Ingrid had been stalked by a German SS Officer, his name was Franz Wahlberg and he was obsessed with creating a pure Aryan race. They had a program where women were impregnated by Nazi officers, the expecting mothers stayed at a place called Lindensborn, once they delivered their babies, they breast fed them for 9 months, the babies were adopted by German couples to be raised to be as perfect little German citizens and carry on the pure Aryan bloodline,

I knew pure Aryan babies were created during WW II, I assumed the couple were willing, I had no idea what happened to the women and babies after the war ended. Yet, another way of the Nazi's treating women and children in a terrible inhumane way, it was brutal and cruel.
Under Darkening Skies is a story about how a young woman must make the unthinkable sacrifice to protect the two people she loves, it's shocking, confronting, emotional and very disturbing.
Ray Kingfisher's Under Darkening Skies is a brilliant, heart breaking story, it's a very unique book, one that you should read if you enjoy WW II historical fiction and I gave it five stars.
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A different take on WWII fiction, this is the story of Ingrid, a Norwegian woman who was forced into the lebensborn program by Franz, an SS officer.  Her son, Arnold, has no idea of his mother's history until after her death- they've been resident in Canada since after the war.  His need to find the truth of his heritage, once he realizes he likely is not the son of Olav, takes him down a dark road.  Kingfisher has done a nice job with his characters-notably with the men- and setting.  Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC.  It's a good read that sheds light on a less familiar aspect of the war.
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#UnderDarkeningSkies #NetGalley
An interesting read which details the Nazi occupation of Norway and specifically Oslo during WW2. Ingrid is coerced by a Nazi officer to conceive a ”lebensborn” aryan child as part of the Nazi programme of increasing the worldwide Aryan population.  She does so in order to get medicine for her dying mother and to prevent her fiancé’s resistance activities being exposed. 
This story unfold through depictions of Ingrids life, her subsequent emigration, her son’s unravelling of his mother’s hidden past, and also snippets of the Nazi Officer’s history. 
It's quite fraught with subtefuge, drama, elements of horror and drama. A thought provoking read.
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💕 Thanks to NetGalley and Amazon Publishing UK for a review copy.

Two things that I loved about this book were firstly, that it was set in Oslo during WW2 and seldom do we see the effects of war being covered there and secondly, that the views and opinions of the three main male characters were strongly presented. Too often, stories of this war are from the point of view of the women left behind. It was refreshing to see where the men of Norway were placed in the conflict.

The story embraces the life in modern times of Arnold as he watches his mother decline in health. As he hears a confusing utterance from her, his life takes him on an adventure of discovery, looking for a missing relation. Travelling back in time to his mother and fathers beginnings, he gradually pieces their story together. 
The story was well told and although quite predictable, it was a pleasant read.
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Desperate times call for desperate measures
This book takes place during the Nazi occupation of Norway.  It is about how the Norwegian people were mistreated by the Germans during the occupation.

It is about the Lebensborn program started by the Nazis to breed a superior white race. The story is about a woman named Ingrid that was recruited to the program by Frank an SS Officer.  She resisted but finally agreed to save the life of her mother that was very ill and medicine and treatment was not within the financial means of Ingrid and her husband to be Olav.  Also Olav was working with the resistance and Franz would have him arrested if Ingrid did not agree.

This book is the story of the birth of the child called Ulrich.  What happened after his birth, how he ended up with his mother and why they immigrated to Canada. How horrible life was for the family after the war because she had a child with a Nazi officer.

It is also the story of Arnold living in Montreal in 2011.  His mother is very ill. Before she passes away she mentions the Norwegian town she once lived in. Thinking that Arnold was her husband Olav she said in her last words before she passed “Arne must never know the truth of his father”. 

While going through his mother’s personal papers he finds an unopened envelope from Sweden. He reads the envelope and calls the lady that sent it.  He ends up going to Norway looking for Ulrich he believes is his half brother.  His friend a nurse he has been seeing goes with him.  After talking to the lady in Sweden he finds out he is Ulrich.  He meets Franz who is now 90 years old in a nursing home.

This is a story of a woman determined to give her family a better life and save them from the horrors of the past.  It is the story of a man that loved his wife enough not only to forgive her for her part in the Lebensborn program, but raised the child as his own.

It is also the story of Franz who was so indoctrinated from an early age with the Nazi propaganda that he gave his life and his whole to the doctrine of the Nazi regime.

This book was interesting and thought provoking.  What would any reasonable person due in a truly desperate situation?  One more horrible program Put in place by the Nazi’s that I know little about.

I  would recommend this book.

Thanks to Ray Kingfisher, Amazon Publishing UK,  and NetGalley for allowing me to read and review a advance copy of the book
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Under Darkening Skies showcases Ray Kingfisher’s eye for intrigue and subject matter, but I’m not sure I’m the best audience for his style of storytelling. 

Historically, this novel has a lot going for it. WWII fiction is riding high, but Norway is not a venue many authors have used and I appreciated the fresh perspective the setting afforded. Ingrid proved an interesting enough heroine, but I was fascinated by the men in her life. Historical fiction tends to focus on women and while I respect the motivation behind that trend, I liked how Under Darkening Skies approached masculine emotion and allowed Olav, Franz, and Arnold to be more than mere placeholders in Ingrid’s story. 

Having said that, I found the novel highly predictable. Reading between the lines, I understood this story would touch on the Lebensborn program before I cracked the spine. For me, the hook was the mystery at the heart of the novel, but I deciphered the plot twist well-before the halfway mark and spent the vast majority of my reading hoping for a curveball that never materialized. 

At the end of the day, I think Kingfisher has a lot a great ideas, but Under Darkening Skies lacked the historical depth I crave. I give it points for flirting with some interesting emotional arcs but can’t say it the page-turner I’d hoped for on picking it up. 

Recommended for fans of lighter war stories and/or those discovering the material for the first time.
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4 stars

In 2011, Arnold's mother Ingrid passed away after a long illness. She muttered some very odd words just before she passed. Arnold ponders them almost obsessively for day after the funeral especially after discovering a letter from Norway amongst her things. It was a letter wanting to know what had happened to Ingrid's son Ulrich. Arnold, now sixty-six, is greatly troubled by the letter, but his two grown daughters are not. Arnold contacts the writer of the letter named Merit and his relatives in Saskatchewan. 

The story flashes back to 1940 in Oslo, Norway in 1940 when the Nazis overtook the country and a program called Lebensborn. It tells Ingrid's story, her boyfriend Olav and her very ill mamma. It is a heartbreaking interlude.

Arnold decides to travel to Oslo to meet Merit. He invites Merlene, his mother's nurse in her latter days and now a good friend of Arnold's to go with him. To say that Arnold has an eye opening time is a gross understatement. 

This is a good book and I enjoyed reading it. I knew about the Lebensborn Program but did not realize that the Nazis exported it to their conquered countries. It was a horrifying story that also had moments of hope and the proof of the resiliency of the human spirit. 

I want to thank NetGalley and Amazon Publishing UK for forwarding to me a copy of this very good book for me to read, enjoy and review.
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Thank you NetGalley and Amazon Publishing UK for the eARC.
I tried hard to get into this book, but for some reason I didn't like it.  A bit was the writing which seemed simplistic, but none of the characters spoke to me either; they felt flat and I couldn't get invested in them.  Too bad, because I was looking forward to reading the story; usually I like WWII novels and novels set in Canada, but this one just wasn't for me.  Sorry!
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The story was fantastic. It absolutely pulled me in, no question. I was hooked from the first page and couldn’t stop until the last sentence of the last page. 

My biggest problem with the book was the writing style. It was a little youngish for me, though the storyline is certainly not for a younger audience.
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It took a little while for me to get into the story but once I did, I really enjoyed it. Great characters and writing style. Lovely ending. I'll definitely look out for more from the author!
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I'm sad to say that this is just not a book for me. I thought the blurb sounded very intriguing, but alas I struggled both with the very predictable story and the flat characters. I really wanted to like the book. However, I felt I didn't even have enough willpower to plow through the book to even finish it.
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