The New York Times bestselling author of the “heart-stopping tale of survival and heroism” (People) The Book of Lost Names returns with an evocative coming-of-age World War II story about a young woman who uses her knowledge of the wilderness to help Jewish refugees escape the Nazis—until a secret from her past threatens everything.
After being stolen from her wealthy German parents and raised in the unforgiving wilderness of eastern Europe, a young woman finds herself alone in 1941 after her kidnapper dies. Her solitary existence is interrupted, however, when she happens upon a group of Jews fleeing the Nazi terror. Stunned to learn what’s happening in the outside world, she vows to teach the group all she can about surviving in the forest—and in turn, they teach her some surprising lessons about opening her heart after years of isolation. But when she is betrayed and escapes into a German-occupied village, her past and present come together in a shocking collision that could change everything.
Inspired by incredible true stories of survival against staggering odds, and suffused with the journey-from-the-wilderness elements that made Where the Crawdads Sing a worldwide phenomenon, The Forest of Vanishing Stars is a heart-wrenching and suspenseful novel from the #1 internationally bestselling author whose writing has been hailed as “sweeping and magnificent” (Fiona Davis, New York Times bestselling author), “immersive and evocative” (Publishers Weekly), and “gripping” (Tampa Bay Times).
What a remarkable read! I was swept away from the start, into the heart of the forest, richly written with vivid details, and into the heart of Yona, our brave but innocent heroine. This is a World War II novel unlike any I’ve read, and was woven with the results of the author’s deep research, which only made the book more gripping.
Yona is kidnapped by a mysterious gypsy-like woman at age two and spends the next 20 years with her captor living deep in the forest, avoiding humanity, hunting and gathering their food, and venturing into nearby villages in the dark of night to take what they need. However, Yona’s captor, Jerusza, is a brilliant and worldly woman who teaches her everything she knows about the forest, the world, and survival. Far from the safety of their forest, war is raging across Europe and the Holocaust is in full throttle.
When Jerusza dies, Yona is left alone, but soon encounters a band of Jewish refugees, innocents in the wilderness, whom she realizes need her help, which she is driven to provide regardless of the danger to herself. With them she discovers, love, betrayal, and loss.
This is my first novel from this author; I will be reading more.
Highly recommended for readers who enjoy historical fiction with strong heroines, suspense, lush landscapes, and an inspiring ending.
About the Author
Kristin Harmel is the New York Times bestselling, USA Today bestselling, and #1 international bestselling author of The Book of Lost Names, The Winemaker’s Wife, The Room on Rue Amelie, and a dozen other novels that have been translated into 28 languages and sold all over the world.
A former reporter for PEOPLE magazine, Kristin has been writing professionally since the age of 16, when she began her career as a sportswriter, covering Major League Baseball and NHL hockey for a local magazine in Tampa Bay, Florida in the late 1990s. After stints covering health and lifestyle for American Baby, Men’s Health, and Woman’s Day, she became a reporter for PEOPLE magazine while still in college and spent more than a decade working for the publication, covering everything from the Super Bowl to high-profile murders to celebrity interviews. Her favorite stories at PEOPLE, however, were the “Heroes Among Us” features–tales of ordinary people doing extraordinary things.
In addition to a long magazine writing career (which also included articles published in Travel + Leisure, Glamour, Ladies’ Home Journal, Every Day with Rachael Ray, and more), Kristin was also a frequent contributor to the national television morning show The Daily Buzz and has appeared on Good Morning America and numerous local television morning shows.
Kristin was born just outside Boston, Massachusetts and spent her childhood there, as well as in Columbus, Ohio, and St. Petersburg, Florida. After graduating with a degree in journalism (with a minor in Spanish) from the University of Florida, she spent time living in Paris and Los Angeles and now lives in Orlando, with her husband and young son. She is the co-founder and co-host of the popular web series and podcast FRIENDS & FICTION.
If you could pound a stake through the heart of the Bermuda Triangle until it appeared on the opposite side of the Earth, you would be in the dreaded Dragon’s Triangle. What better place to hide a weapon of mass destruction?
A simple phone call from a friend at sea throws Andrea, a graduate of Yale University with a PhD in biomedical engineering, into a world of espionage and intrigue. Did her friend, a deep-sea diver working for a company repairing communication cables, really find a mysterious object buried one thousand feet below the ocean’s surface, and could it be of any importance? Why did this phone call from the billions made each day trigger a covert group, a remnant of Nazi Germany, to come out of the shadows to claim this object, and, like a virus, systematically destroy anyone who stands in its way of recovering what it lost so many years ago? The reputation of the Dragon’s Triangle for unexplained events is just beginning a new chapter.
An obvious neophyte in this deadly game where people are starting to disappear, Andrea has nowhere to turn. A chance encounter with a NYPD officer might strengthen her chance of survival. Sean is a retired Navy SEAL officer who teams up with Andrea only to find that they are both in over their heads. The enemy seems to have limitless power, and there is only one person Sean knows who can help them stay alive. He turns to Paul O, a man of great wealth who owns a company that builds ships and satellites for the U.S. government. A private war breaks out with Paul, Andrea, and Sean, pitted against an unknown, fanatical group that takes place in the air, on and beneath the sea, and on land.
Will they survive, and if they do, how will it change them?
Three people from different walks of life meld into a tenacious team, never giving up when the chips are down and all seems lost. Who will be the first to sacrifice their life for the others, and does Andrea stay a victim, or does she become a force to reckon with that takes the strongest of men by surprise?
Tony Dellamarco is an engineer turned teacher turned author. His lifelong passion for writing led to the publication of professional articles throughout his engineering career. He has also written several stories for children, including The Great Race, on understanding the doubling of numbers, two others for a Great Pyrenees periodical, ODE to A Great PYR and Great Bear the Great PYR, and The Little Star and Tubby the Tugboat, that have been read in elementary school classrooms. He completed two additional yet to be published novels, The Raptors and The Cranberry Chalice, designed to capture the imaginations of teenagers and adults alike. A graduate of Arizona State University (ASU) with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, and Mount Saint Mary College, Newburgh, New York with a master’s degree in education, he has years of technological and educational training.
His first job was with IBM where he started working in the Quality Control and Engineering departments. After 27 years he finished his IBM career as a senior engineer. He then taught 10th and 11th grade history and science at the Minisink Valley Central School District in upstate New York. Throughout his life he’s been an avid sportsman and has trained in power lifting and a variety of martial arts. At 19 he earned a scuba diving certification and piggybacked a pilot’s license at the same time. When he’s not writing or conjuring science fiction novels, he enjoys teaching his grandchildren how to drive his tractor while working the fields around his home in the Hudson Valley.
Q&A with Tony Dellamarco
MS:Hey Tony, Congratulations on publishing your first book. Tell us about it.
TD:Beneath the Dragon’s Triangle covers many genres. It is a techno-thriller which includes military covert operations, espionage, science fiction and a dab of romance. The main character is a female, Andrea, who is thrown into a deadly game of espionage after she receives a call from a male acquaintance repairing a communication cable deep in the dreaded Dragon’s Triangle. What did this man find buried that immediately put people’s lives in danger?
When Andrea’s best friend, a librarian, dies a questionable death while researching the approximate coordinates where this object was found, her life turns into a living hell. Soon others will follow the ranks of the missing. Like the unraveling of a ball of yarn, Andrea’s mundane life becomes entangled in a web of deceit and danger. She meets Sean, a NYC police officer at her friend’s apartment. He is there to inform the next of kin of the librarian’s tragic death.This chance encounter puts both their lives in danger, and they soon find themselves fighting a fanatical group that will stop at nothing to get the information that only Andrea knows – the actual coordinates of where the object lies. Sean, a retired Navy SEAL, enlists the help of Paul O., a modern-day Howard Hughes stereotype and close friend.
Together the three fight to survive the attacks of a relentless well financed covert group. This story is high on action and adventure taking place on the land, in and below the deep waters of the ocean, and in the air. The race is on to see who will be the first to find the mysterious weapon that is capable of changing the course of history.
Here’s a (very) short excerpt:
Oh, the arrogance of man. Even the best plans can be delayed by unforeseen circumstances.
MS:So, were you born a writer, or did it evolve?
TD: As a youngster in elementary school, I always wrote stories that were out of the ordinary. A rocket that landed on the sun, as an example, and a story about a magical sled that could go through buildings. In high school I took a high-speed reading and writing class at a local college. The Sister who oversaw the writing piece told me I had quite an active imagination. The essay I wrote for her in the early 60’s was about flying cars and how they traveled from one place to another. I guess in retrospect, I was born with an imagination, but never took people and their impressions seriously about the articles I had written.
MS: When, why, and how did you start writing?
TD: Writing has always been a passion of mine. However, it was unleashed when I hung my engineering spikes up and starting teaching at Minisink Valley School District (NY) as a 9th grade history and 11th grade science teacher. Unfortunately, the general public has no idea of the diversity and intelligence of the teaching environment. My experience as a high school teacher was invaluable to my writing career – sort of like a mini-Library of Alexandria. One wing of the high school contained the biology, chemistry, and physics teachers. Another wing housed the math teachers. Then there were the English teachers who had a compilation of hundreds of stories from Ancient Greece to modern literature. The entire school was like a huge book just waiting to impart its knowledge freely to anyone who wished for it. Walk the halls of a high school with disciplined students and you will be overwhelmed with ideas and stories one could write about.
MS:What inspires you?
TD: Nature, biblical stories, and prophecies, watching and trying to understand why people act the way they do; studying the big picture…earth, the universe; studying the ever-faster evolution of technology and where it might lead….
MS: Who was/is your biggest influence?
TD: I would say my freshmen college English teacher and my humanities literature professor. My freshmen English teacher liked my style of writing, and my humanities literature sparked a thousand stories by his inspiring lectures and antics.
MS: Who was/is your biggest supporter?
TD: My wonderful wife, my editor, and an established author who took me under her wing.
MS: Who was/is your biggest detractor?
TD: Life… Accidents, sickness… Life can throw you curves when you least expect them.
MS:Who would you most like to thank for their involvement in your writing career?
TD: My wife, who never faltered when I needed to write a chapter or essay that sometimes took away from our vacation time. My wife is a true blessing that has always stood by my side and constantly encourages me to write.
MS: If you could study under any author, who would you choose and why?
TD: There are many, but, Isaac Asimov would be my choice. He wrote over 500 plus books and is one of the best Sci-fi writers of the last century.
MS: Name something you wish you had written and explain why.
TD:The Time Machine. It’s timeless.
MS: What advice do you have for beginning authors?
TD: Perseverance… never give up… It took me over 15 years of research and being delayed due to life throwing curves that took time for me to regroup … Pick up the pieces and continue.
MS:Describe your writing process.
TD: I tend to think on a topic and then do a mental layout.
MS:How do ideas come to you?
TD: I’m constantly thinking of story lines. If you listen and watch life as it evolves around you, ideas will come to you.
MS:Do you work from an outline or just go with the flow? If you use an outline, how detailed is it?
TD: Both… I have a habit of going outside the story line and go with the flow…
MS: Explain your research process.
TD: Journals, engineering, science, geography. History… read, read, and read a variety of materials.
MS:What do you love most about writing?
TD: It’s one of the few things you can do in life where you are in total control of the outcome…
MS: What do you hate about writing?
TD: Nothing really to hate. I do get frustrated when I write myself into a box − where the outcome I anticipated cannot happen because of what was written in previous chapters…
MS: What is the most important thing you have learned about yourself through writing?
TD: Everyone has a story within themselves. Write about what you have personally experience and what you know best.
MS:Do you have a special place to write?
TD: Yes. I enjoy looking at the landscape from the vantage point of my computer.
MS: Where did you get the idea for your book?
TD: Multiple sources that converged into a plot.
MS:Do you have a favorite character from your book or series? Why that one?
TD: Andrea, because she is every man’s dream, and a champion for women who never give up even when the odds are stacked against them.
MS:What is the time span in your novel, weeks, months, years?
TD: Months to a few years.
MS: How much research went into it?
TD: I put in years of research because of technology catching up to what I had already put down on paper. Meaning, I had to re-research and recreate something different and futuristic from what I had committed to the storyline.
MS: How have the changes in present day publishing impacted writing career?
TD: Unfortunately, times have changed. Years ago, you could send a manuscript or chapter outline to a publisher and get a response, but that option no longer exists, except for the few very well established authors. Today, getting a response from an agent is difficult. Where a publisher would read your manuscript in the past to see if the story was well written and interesting, today’s agents make their decisions without diving into the story line.
MS:What would you do if you couldn’t write anymore?
TD: Dedicate more time to charities.
MS:Can you tell us what you’re working on now?
TD: The sequel to my first book, Beneath the Dragon’s Triangle.
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