The Shadow War

Written by Lindsay Smith
Review by Lyn Miller-Lachmann

Magic and history combine in an exciting tale set behind the lines in World War II Germany as five teens try to take out a nexus of evil scientists who are summoning monsters to the Nazi cause. Liam is a 16-year-old physics major at Princeton whose brief sexual relationship with a Slovak exchange student has exposed him to this underworld—and his own capacity to bring monsters to this world or close the rift between the two worlds. Daniel and Rebekah are the sole survivors of their Jewish family sent to an extermination camp. Rebekah’s ability to see into the future allowed them to escape, but Daniel, who has a lot of passion but limited magical ability, wants revenge. Phillip has been recruited from his Black college for a secret communications mission deep inside Germany, and he accepts it as absolution for betraying his friends and community. Simone, a queer Algerian teenager living in Paris, joins the resistance but pines for her lover, who refuses to endanger her own privileged position.

Along with the description of magic and monsters, the novel excels in developing the relationships among the characters. Readers see the chemistry between Liam and Daniel, and Phillip and Rebekah, but their attraction is fraught with the baggage of their former lives. Simone’s story takes a surprising turn that readers will appreciate as well. Smith, whose earlier YA novels were Cold War spy thrillers, adds an effective new dimension, a shadow world of death and destruction, to the existing story of Europe in World War II just after the U.S. joined the fight.