Night of Flames by Douglas W. Jacobson

Title:  Night of Flames

Author:  Douglas W. Jacobson

Published:  October 1, 2008

Page Count:  384

Genre:  Historical Fiction

My Rating:  4.5/5

In 1939 the Germans invade Poland, setting off a rising storm of violence and destruction.  For Anna and Jan Kopernik the loss is unimaginable.  Anna’s father is deported to a death camp, and Anna must flee to Belgium where she joins the Resistance.  Meanwhile, Jan escapes with the battered remnants of the Polish army to Britain.  When British intelligence asks him to return to Poland in an undercover mission to contact the Resistance, he seizes the chance to search for his missing wife.

First of all, I have to say that I absolutely LOVE this cover.  Isn’t it just gorgeous??  It’s even better in person, if you can believe that.

Anyway, I truly loved this novel.  Night of Flames surprised me with how much I enjoyed it and how interesting and intriguing I found the story to be.  The book was just so rich with history and historical details, while still focusing deeply on the characters and the plot.  I always enjoy reading books about World War II and the Holocaust, but what I liked about this one in particular was the lack of gruesome details and difficult scenes.  It was focused much more on the plot, on what the characters were going through, and on their relationships with each other.

One thing I found particularly fascinating was Jacobson’s portrayal of Poland during the German invasion.  I can only imagine what it must have been like for the people of Poland – they were just invaded and had no clue what would happen next, everyone was desperately scrambling to get out of Poland yet nobody had any idea which routes to take, it was just mass confusion and chaos.  I had never put a lot of thought into this aspect of the war, and it was so interesting to read about it from these characters’ perspectives.

There are many characters to keep track of in Night of Flames, yet Jacobson does an excellent job enabling the reader to keep them all straight.  The plot is complex, lots of different things going on at once, yet I never found the complicated storyline clunky or overwhelming – it was paced perfectly, and I had just enough introduction to each character to care about them with the action still starting right from the start.  I think one thing that helped with the amount of action and details was the shorter chapters – it was easier to understand things when only small amounts of story were  thrown at me each time.

Night of Flames is simply an excellent historical novel.  It pulled me in from the beginning, and I found myself completely immersed in the history put before me on the page – not to mention the fantastic characters and exciting plot!  I would highly recommend Night of Flames for any fiction reader, although fans of historical fiction will be especially enraptured with the book.

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14 thoughts on “Night of Flames by Douglas W. Jacobson”

  1. The cover had me mesmorized for a moment. Love it! I’m not a big fan of the WWII historical novels, but this one is tempting.

  2. Glad to hear you liked this one, as I hope to read it for the challenge, too. A WWII book without graphic scenes sounds good to me. I’ll get this post on the war blog soon.


  3. i haven’t read much historical fiction–i just started with ‘pillars of the earth’…wish me luck! 🙂 this novel sounds so good and the cover is stunning. i’m not doing the WWII challenge, but i did hear about it around the blogs–sounds like this one would be a perfect fit! thanks for the review.

    1. Nat,
      When I saw that you’re reading Pillars of the Earth, I had to jump in with a reply. I’ve always been a big Ken Follet fan and, in my opinion, Pillars is by far his best work. It is one of the two books that inspired me to become an author (the other being Herman Wouk’s Winds of War). Stay with Pillars to the end and you’ll be truly rewarded. Then you can pick up Night of Flames and it will read like a breeze!!
      Douglas W Jacobson,

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