Review of Katarina’s Dark Shadow by MJ Krause-Chivers

RUSSIAN MENNONITE CHRONICLES: Book One: Katarina’s Dark Shadow by MJ Krause-Chivers

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


I was originally intrigued by this book because of the subject matter. I knew next to nothing about Ukraine in the early 20th century, and this book really dove deep into that area of study.

There were two POVs – Katarina, then her son, Peter, around thirty-five years later. I found Katarina’s POV to be more interesting, although she could be a bit irritating at times. However, I think that was a realistic portrayal of a young girl in this crazy time during history. Peter didn’t have a lot of character development, but I imagine he’ll have a bigger part of the story in following books.

The plot of this book was slow for me. Peter, looking back on his mother’s life, was always talking about all of these traumatic events, and very few of them actually happened in this book. Much of the scenes were taken up with explanations of the current politics of the day and happenings in other parts of the country. Although very interesting to some people, I got a little bogged down with so much history when I was expecting more of a story and moving plotline. However, as mentioned above, this is part of a series, and this book really just set the stage for the entire series.

Katarina chafed against the confines of her Mennonite upbringing, and she questioned many of the traditional Mennonite views on certain issues such as self-defense and the woman’s rightful place in the home. She also questioned why God would allow certain things, but for the most part, I wasn’t convinced Katarina was a Christian. Perhaps she was, and the later books in the series would speak to that more in her life.

There was almost no romance in this book, and there was no cursing. However, there were a couple weird comments/scenes that made me feel uncomfortable and could’ve been approached with more tact or just deleted. Overall, this book would be great for someone who is very interested in Russia, Ukrainian, and Mennonite history, or people who enjoy their historical fiction to focus on the history side of things. Fans of The Russians series by Judith Pella and Michael Phillips will enjoy this book.

Thanks to the author for a free copy in exchange for a review!


Available on Amazon


Award-winning Christian author, Amazon vine reviewer, and researcher Miranda J. Chivers/a.k.a. MJ Krause-Chivers writes about faith and real life challenges. Her mission is to heal hurting souls through both nonfiction and fiction.

Her first fiction series: Russian Mennonite Chronicles Book One: Katarina’s Dark Shadow releases September 7. It was inspired by true stories based on her grandparents’ refugee journey from Russia following the Russian revolution.

“In 1918 the World War was ending, but the Russian Revolution had just begun. The peace-loving German Mennonite colonies never expected that their quiet, traditional communities would soon be turned into a violent war zone.”

Every advance reader loves this new exciting historical series based on real events and are already asking for Book two.

MJ also writes Christian non-fiction. Her work includes multiple devotional series with Christian Devo Writers. In her debut non-fiction book “Unequally Yoked: Staying Committed to Jesus and Your Unbelieving Spouse,” she explored the challenges of living in an unequally yoked marriage with answers based on scripture and real world experience.

When she isn’t writing or reading, MJ travels, digs around historical settings, cooks ethnic cuisine, and collects rocks. She lives in Niagara, Ontario.

AWARDS: “Unequally Yoked: Staying Committed to Jesus and Your Unbelieving Spouse” won the Silver Medal in the 2018 Readers’ Favorite Award (Christian Biblical Counseling); 2019 Author’s Academy Awards (Advice) Top Ten; 2019 Top Shelf Awards Finalist.

Miranda can be contacted via email: miranda@mirandajchivers.com
Check out her website for free info and read her latest blogs: https://www.mirandajchivers.com

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