The Writer is a distinctive take on events that took place during the early twentieth century, before the onset of the Second World War. It particularly focuses on the lives of Jewish people living in Austria, during a time when a sense of growing disdain finally culminates in outright antisemitic hostility.
The two main characters, Mathias Kraemer and Johannes Namal have a close friendship that not only stems from their shared Jewish heritage, but also from their shared profession as writers. When the rise of Nazism infiltrating Austria threatens to harm them and their families, they both decide to become part of an underground identity change network, in the hopes that this will keep them safe from the clutches of the fear-inspiring state police.
The Writer began extremely well, with tons of promise and potential. It offers a unique insight that is generally lacking from other books of a similar genre. I really enjoyed reading the initial part of this novel and I felt very much invested in the story, the characters and their development. However, The Writer ultimately fails to maintain this strong start until the end.
I unfortunately had a few issues with The Writer. The novel sets itself up as a POV (Point Of View) novel, where each new chapter explores another character’s perspective. However this structure lacks consistency and even more so as the story progresses. At one point during Johannes’ POV section, the story transitions into the events of a character where Johannes is not present, so he would not have been able to narrate these events, thereby causing the narrative to conveniently shift into the omnipresent third-person.
As we get into the final part of the book, the thriller element and accompanying sense of urgency it tries to convey starts to become very rushed. Also I started to become disillusioned with the relentless use of exclamations – The safe was open! The gun wasn’t there! – that became especially prolific towards the end. It felt like the novel was trying to create suspense, but this too fell short for me.
Overall, The Writer was largely enjoyable and has undeniable potential.
Many thanks and appreciation to the author, J.C. Maetis for his continued patience and for gifting this book to me in exchange for my honest review!