Life in East Germany in 1980s is not easy, especially for Lena. After her parents died in a factory explosion, Lena spent some time in a psychiatric ward. After discharge, she was sent to live with her aunt. She got to spend a Sunday with her dear uncle Erich. Lena longs to live with her uncle as her ‘Sausage’ Aunty is very strict.
One night, Lena’s uncle Erich disappears into thin air. He’s known for writing about Soviet Propaganda. Was he taken by the Stasi men? Or, did he run away to West Germany. Lena soon understands that her uncle’s presence is erased from the world. His books are nowhere to be seen – in libraries or bookshops. Even her aunt denies having a brother. Lena works at the Stasi building and wants to find out more about her uncle.
I love stories set during the cold war. The simmering tension between the Soviet and the West, spies, people disappearing for have raised their voices against the propaganda and much more!
The House of One Thousand Eyes is a brilliant story about a teenager who goes in search of her missing uncle. To make things worse is her past – a year-long-stay at the psychiatric ward and the traumatic experiences she had to undergo as a patient is still fresh in her mind. As the story proceeds, Lena learns a few things. Betrayal, people taking advantage of her being a ‘simpleton’, love and friendship to name a few.
Lena is adorable! She’s likeable and as the story ends, her transformation and the sacrifices she’s made brings tears in your eyes. I am pretty sure that during the GDR and FDR era, there were many Lenas. The ones whose ‘silent’ sacrifices might not have made them a public hero but they surely contributed to the fall of the USSR in 1990.
I wouldn’t call this story a thriller. It is somewhere between the genres of Historical Fiction and Mystery. (NetGalley categorises this books under YA) Herr Dreck was, as his name suggests, filthy. He abuses Lena but there’s nothing she could do. Sausage Aunty is strict and Lena is a tad afraid of her. Lena’s friends – Danika and Peter – have a story of their own. Max is someone who enters the story in the second half but his entry is what changes Lena’s course. I am not going to say much about the hows and whys. You will have to read the book to find out more.
I recommend this book to one and all. It is not about History or Mystery here, read this book to know how lives were in East Germany. Defectors, if caught, were punished brutally. If they managed to escape, their family would be punished for it. Offices were bugged and people were followed by Stasi men. Those who were found guilty disappeared from the face of the earth – even their birth records were destroyed!
Writing Style: 5/5
Character Development: 5/5
Overall Rating: 5/5
Title: The House of One Thousand Eyes
Author: Michelle Barker
Published on: 11 September 2018
Genre: Historical Fiction, Teens and YA