The Winter Soldier | 3.5 star review

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Winter Soldier | 3.5 star reviewThe Winter Soldier by Daniel Mason
three-half-stars
Source: Netgalley
Genres: Historical Fiction

"A dream of a novel... Part mystery, part war story, part romance." --Anthony Doerr, author of All the Light We Cannot See

Vienna, 1914. Lucius is a twenty-two-year-old medical student when World War I explodes across Europe. Enraptured by romantic tales of battlefield surgery, he enlists, expecting a position at a well-organized field hospital. But when he arrives, at a commandeered church tucked away high in a remote valley of the Carpathian Mountains, he finds a freezing outpost ravaged by typhus. The other doctors have fled, and only a single, mysterious nurse named Sister Margarete remains.But Lucius has never lifted a surgeon's scalpel. And as the war rages across the winter landscape, he finds himself falling in love with the woman from whom he must learn a brutal, makeshift medicine. Then one day, an unconscious soldier is brought in from the snow, his uniform stuffed with strange drawings. He seems beyond rescue, until Lucius makes a fateful decision that will change the lives of doctor, patient, and nurse forever.From the gilded ballrooms of Imperial Vienna to the frozen forests of the Eastern Front; from hardscrabble operating rooms to battlefields thundering with Cossack cavalry, The Winter Soldier is the story of war and medicine, of family, of finding love in the sweeping tides of history, and finally, of the mistakes we make, and the precious opportunities to atone.

The Winter Soldier for me was an extremely detailed look at the way that medicine evolved throughout the war. I also think it offered an insight into a time frame and another subject matter that I don’t think is looked at very often. Saying that this was not a story that grabbed me. I wasn’t pulled into the character’s journeys and some of the information that was put into the story felt out of place and almost unnecessary to the story. I just think that there could have been more connection made with the characters without it. I loved some of the writing, some of which was completely poetic and beautifully described and for that was the saving grace of The Winter Soldier.

The Winter Soldier follow the story of a young medical student who after learning he will be allowed to perform actual procedures enlists. The problem I have is that there are so many characters who either have extremely similar names or similar personality traits that trying to, them all was unbelievable. Plus they weren’t developed and couldn’t make an impact on the story or the other characters. I wanted a little more drama and action from everything. Maybe switching the focus from medicine to the characters.

I won’t go into too much detail because I don’t want to spoil it if you did end up reading The Winter Soldier. But the ending is one of the most unsatisfactory endings I have ever read. Not one of the questions I had were answered and I’m not sure whether this was a deliberate kind of like the last book in the A Series of Unfortunate Events which was done really well or whether it was a mistake. Either way, I had so many questions and it almost looked like they were going to be answered and then ripped away. It was a disappointment, to say the least.

It’s a shame because I usually really love wartime stories and they usually quickly become one of my favourites, but I just don’t think there was enough about the characters and their lives. I also think the relationships in The Winter Soldier were underdeveloped and I struggled with that aspect. Especially the way the ending worked out. I just wanted more and I expect more from the books I’m reading. Like I said before, there were some really nicely written pieces which saved this book for me, but apart from those passages, I think the story fell flat in my opinion and I am so sad about it!

I don’t think I would recommend The Winter Soldier, it wasn’t the best wartime book and I definitely think there are better out there. My recommendation would be The Bronze Horseman!

What are some of your favourite wartime books? Let me know in the comments!

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