Title: Hidden Among the Stars
Author: Melanie Dobson
Genre: Historical Fiction/Time-Slip
Publishing Date: September 4, 2018
About the Book:
From the award-winning author of Catching the Wind, which Publishers Weekly called “unforgettable” and a “must-read,” comes another gripping time-slip novel about hidden treasure, a castle, and ordinary people who resisted evil in their own extraordinary way.
The year is 1938, and as Hitler’s troops sweep into Vienna, Austrian Max Dornbach promises to help his Jewish friends hide their most valuable possessions from the Nazis, smuggling them to his family’s summer estate near the picturesque village of Hallstatt. He enlists the help of Annika Knopf, his childhood friend and the caretaker’s daughter, who is eager to help the man she’s loved her entire life. But when Max also brings Luzia Weiss, a young Jewish woman, to hide at the castle, it complicates Annika’s feelings and puts their entire plan—even their very lives—in jeopardy. Especially when the Nazis come to scour the estate and find both Luzia and the treasure gone.
Eighty years later, Callie Randall is mostly content with her quiet life, running a bookstore with her sister and reaching out into the world through her blog. Then she finds a cryptic list in an old edition of Bambithat connects her to Annika’s story . . . and maybe to the long-buried story of a dear friend. As she digs into the past, Callie must risk venturing outside the safe world she’s built for a chance at answers, adventure, and maybe even new love.
Click here to purchase your copy!
About the Author:
Melanie Dobson is the award-winning author of nearly twenty historical romance, suspense, and time-slip novels including Catching the Wind and Chateau of Secrets . Three of her novels have won Carol Awards; Love Finds You in Liberty, Indiana won Best Novel of Indiana in 2010; and The Black Cloister won the Foreword Magazine Religious Fiction Book of the Year.
Melanie is the former corporate publicity manager at Focus on the Family and owner of the publicity firm Dobson Media Group. When she isn’t writing, Melanie enjoys teaching both writing and public relations classes at George Fox University.
Melanie and her husband, Jon, have two daughters. After moving numerous times with work, the Dobson family has settled near Portland, Oregon, and they love to hike and camp in the mountains of the Pacific Northwest and along the Pacific Coast. Melanie also enjoys exploring ghost towns and abandoned homes, helping care for kids in her community, and reading stories with her girls.
Visit Melanie online at www.melaniedobson.com.
Guest Post from Melanie
Hallstatt’s Hiding Places
Backpacking across Europe—that’s how my husband Jon and I decided to celebrate our fifth wedding anniversary. We savored the old world culture and charm as we hiked along Italy’s coast, toured medieval castles in Germany, and cruised the canals in Belgium; we both left a bit of our hearts in an ancient lakeside town called Hallstatt.
The moment we stepped off the ferryboat and into this storybook village, we crossed through a portal of sorts, traveling back several centuries in time. The rugged, snow-capped mountains around us and alpine lake, the quaint village with its church steeples and cobblestone lanes and waterfall that spilled into town—all of it captivated us.
Along the shore, hidden partially by trees, we could see spires of an abandoned castle, and I wanted to know its story. No one in Hallstatt could tell us who’d lived in the castle—at least, not in English—so my husband agreed to a new adventure. With a swan as our escort, we glided across the lake in an electric boat so I could study the rusty turrets, boarded windows, and wooden boathouse resting in the water like a felled log.
Instead of quelling my curiosity, the match of inspiration ignited my mind. Who had lived in this castle, and what happened there? I began writing in my journal that night, trying to capture my rogue thoughts on paper, hoping that one day a novel would emerge from the ashes of this castle’s story.
When we returned home, I began researching more of Hallstatt’s history and discovered that this region, in all of its beauty and mystique, had been infiltrated by an enemy in 1938. This town and the surrounding Salzkammergut became a mountain retreat for Nazi officials who built mansions on the shores of its many lakes and used salt mines to hide “ownerless treasure”—the gold bullion and artwork they’d stolen from the Jewish people.
The Nazis intended to build a Fourth Reich in this alpine fortress, but the Allies had other plans. Near the end of the war, these lakes became a dustbin of sorts, collecting whatever the enemy dumped into its waters—weapons, counterfeit banknotes, concentration camp lists—as they fled south from the Allied troops. The Devil’s Dustbin, locals call it.
Lake Hallstatt plunges more than four hundred feet between the fortress of mountains. Because of its depth and the many hiding places in the underwater forests, caves, and shifting sands, divers continue finding World War II artifacts today. Some still believe there’s a treasure trove buried on the bottom, but no one has reported finding any gold.
After our trip, a story about this castle and what happened to the heirlooms of the Austrian Jewish people continued to burn inside me until I finally put it on paper. So I built Schloss Schwansee—Castle of Swan Lake—in my mind, inspired by the castle along Lake Hallstatt, and created a cast of historical and contemporary characters who are searching for lost treasure.
Hidden Among the Stars is a time-slip novel about a castle and treasure and fairytales, but most of all, it’s a story about God using ordinary people across Austria to resist evil in their own extraordinary way.
Once again, Melanie Dobson has proved herself as an amazingly talented author! I was introduced to her writing through her book Catching the Wind earlier this year, and she has once again written a masterpiece. As with any other book taking place during WWII, the story will slowly break your heart, then attempt to sew some of the pieces back together. Families that survived the war carried their scars (both physical and emotional) with them as painful reminders of their pasts, but no one really escaped whole. They slowly learned how to live life again despite the gaping holes in their hearts.
Hidden Among the Stars flips between the late 1930’s and the present day. It’s told in first-person through Callie, and third person through Annika, Max, and Luzia. Each character’s perspective adds another layer to the pain and complexity of just how devastating the war was and how it had a lasting impact on the generations following. I can only imagine how emotional it was for Melanie to write this story considering how emotional it was reading it.
I can’t share specific details or else I’d be spoiling, but something that really struck me in this story was people’s abilities to make selfless decisions even at the risk of death. It’s no secret that today we live in a “ME” world. To some, thinking of others first is even a foreign concept. How natural do those feelings really come though? Do we care about ourselves first and others second? If given the choice between saving ourselves and saving another, would we even have to think? Thankfully I’ve never had to face a situation like that, but my hope would be that I wouldn’t think selfishly. My hope would be that death wouldn’t scare me. If I’m being honest though, it terrifies me. There are many told and untold stories of people during WWII and the Holocaust who gave up their own lives to save others. It’s their stories that deserve to be told, and it’s their voices that deserve to be heard.
Hopefully the more people learn of history, the less likely it is to be repeated. Melanie Dobson has written a raw, heart-wrenching story of love and loss in WWII. I honestly don’t think I can recommend it enough! I also recommend checking out some of her other stories that take place during the same time period. One thing is for sure though, Melanie Dobson knows how to write a story that you feel and not just read words on a page.
*I received a complimentary copy of this book from CelebrateLit Tours and the author through NetGalley. I was not required to give a positive review. Thoughts and opinions expressed are mine alone.
Age Appropriatness/Content Awareness:
*PLEASE NOTE: This section may contain mild spoilers but I do my best to reveal the difficult and/or triggering content without giving away the story.
The biggest warning for this book is a rape that occurs. While the actual rape isn’t explicit, it’s part of a violent scene. Other than that though, I would consider this book mild for what it could be. The language is clean and with exception to the scene above, the romance is clean. I would probably recommend to ages 14 and up.
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To celebrate her tour, Melanie is giving away a grand prize package that includes a $25 Amazon gift card, Catching the Wind paperback, and Hidden Among the Stars paperback!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.