Child of the Ruins – Kate Furnivall | Book Review |#ChildoftheRuins #HistoricalFiction @KateFurnivall @HodderBooks

People are disappearing. I spoke to my neighbour yesterday, we laughed at some nonsense, and today he is gone. We only discovered he was missing because the dog wouldn’t stop howling and we all knew he would never leave his beloved pet. So I am careful, extremely careful.

Two families divided by war. An entire city on the edge of disaster.

1948, Berlin. World War II has ended and there is supposed to be peace; but Russian troops have closed all access to the city. Roads, railway lines and waterways are blocked and two million people are trapped, relying on airlifts of food, water and medicine to survive. The sharp eyes of the Russian state police watch everything; no one can be trusted.

Anna and Ingrid are both searching for answers – and revenge – in the messy aftermath of war. They understand that survival comes only by knowing what to trade: food; medicine; heirlooms; secrets. Both are living in the shadows of a city where the line between right and wrong has become dangerously blurred.

But they cannot give up in the search for a lost child …


My thanks to Emily, formerly of Hodder for the tour invite and the paperback copy to review. Child of the Ruins was published on 7 November 2023 by Hodder & Stoughton and is available in Ebook, Audio and Hardback. The Paperback will follow on 1 August 2024.

Set in 1948, the story focuses on two women, Anna Wolff and Ingrid Keller. The Second World War is over but the people of Berlin are not living in peace. Berlin has been divided into East and West, with the Allies (including the US) controlling the West and the Soviets governing the East. The Soviets have cut off all provisions to the West and its citizens are reliant upon non stop air supplies from the Allies. Life in the East is no better with buildings reduced to rubble and the people starving under the Soviets brutal regime.

To my shame I knew little about the after effects of the split, but Kate Furnivall has produced an intricately researched and detailed story of espionage and betrayal – and its consequences.

Anna and Ingrid are both very different. Anna lives in the east, her business was repairing bicycles. She is caring and compassionate whilst Ingrid (living in the west), with her circus background has a much harder character with both eyes always on the main chance. Their paths collide unexpectedly and survival depends on trust.

This is superb historical fiction with some parts of the story being hard hitting and uncomfortable to read – the author didn’t hold back when it came to portraying the suffering and desperation that East Berliners were subjected to, possessions having to be exchanged for a tiny amount of food and children having to fend for themselves. The root of evil goes right to the top of authority but there are good ones too who don’t wholly buy into the party line. Anna has already endured so much but needs to survive if she is ever to find a missing child – an immense challenge as she has no idea where he could be.

The revelations in this story come thick and fast and I was kept wondering whether certain people could be trusted. There is a lot of detail but it still has a good pace and I worried for one character as she seemed to be the focus of much attention – not in a good way, and I couldn’t understand why.

Excellent historical fiction with vividly drawn characterisation and a gripping and powerful storyline which will surprise and shock. Definitely recommended.


Kate Furnivall is the author of twelve novels, including THE RUSSIAN CONCUBINE, THE LIBERATION and THE GUARDIAN OF LIES. Her books have been translated into more than twenty languages and have been on the Sunday Times and New York Times bestseller lists. She lives in Devon.

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