Review: Under a Blood Red Sky by Kate Furnivall

Unfortunately I was unable to finish this book – which is not something that happens to me very often. I hadn’t heard of Under a Blood Red Sky (also published under the title The Red Scarf) until I saw it in the library and I thought I’d give it a try as I love historical fiction set in Russia.   It sounded interesting:

Anna and Sofia are two women who meet whilst imprisoned in a Soviet labour camp in the 1930s and become best friends. When Anna becomes ill, Sofia comes up with a daring plan to run away from the camp and find help. Anna has told her about a childhood friend, Vasily, who is now living under an assumed name in the town of Tivil. After successfully escaping, Sofia heads for Tivil to look for Vasily and ask him to return to the camp with her to save Anna.

However, right from the beginning of the book I felt we were being asked to accept things that weren’t plausible.  The whole plot was just too far-fetched for me.  The other (bigger) problem I had with this book was that I couldn’t connect with any of the characters. Although they were constantly putting their lives at risk and facing unimaginable horrors under Stalin’s communist regime, I found I didn’t really care what happened to them. Sofia was one of those model heroines – beautiful, brave, intelligent and perfect. Everybody seemed to be captivated by her and I couldn’t really understand why. She just didn’t feel like a real person to me. Of course, there were some situations that even Sofia couldn’t deal with – that’s where the gypsy Rafik came in, using mesmerism and mind-control to overcome obstacles.  I thought the whole magical aspect of the book seemed a bit out of place.

I tried to keep reading, thinking the book might get better but when I found I was almost halfway through and still wasn’t enjoying it, I decided not to waste any more time on it and put it down with a sigh of relief. I’m glad I had borrowed this book from the library instead of spending money on it – at least I didn’t lose anything apart from a couple of days when I could have been reading something else.

Genre: Historical Fiction/Pages: 512/Publisher: Sphere/Year: 2008/Source: Library book

14 thoughts on “Review: Under a Blood Red Sky by Kate Furnivall

  1. Aarti says:

    I think this book is the sequel to another book, isn’t it? Peace Like the River or something with a river… or something with peace… I’m obviously of no help!

  2. Iris says:

    Like Ana said, it certainly sounds like it would make an interesting story. I’m sorry to hear you didn’t enjoy it.

    I did a quick search on LibraryThing, but I can’t seem to find if it’s a part of a series.

  3. Lua says:

    If I find myself not caring for the characters, not interested about what happens to them, than I see no point in continuing to read the book… I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy it. All the more reasons to appreciate good books, right? 🙂

  4. Lynn says:

    I read Kate Furnivall’s Russian Concubine and its sequel and loved them both – This one I have on my kindle and I must admit I’m struggling with it – I will read it through as it may get better but certainly hasn’t held my attention like the first 2 books did…..Don’t give up on Kate Furnivall though as her other books are great !

  5. Mary Theresa Collins says:

    A little far fetched but I read it to the end. I can’t say it’s one of her best but I do like Kate Furnivall’s books.

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