Reviewed by: Charlayne Elizabeth Denney
Member of Paranormal Romance Guild Review Team
Alia Mercier lives in Paris in the summer of 1939. Friends with various near-famous and famous authors and artists, she has also befriended a young widow, Suzanne and her young daughter Cécile. Alia has a secret none of her friends know, she is a fallen angel, having left heaven in grief after losing Ariel. Even after she takes the form of a French woman, she has some of the angel abilities, including occasionally seeing into the Book of Life and reading the eventuality of death of others.
War is coming to France, the German Wehrmacht soldiers are coming to Paris as an occupying force and want all Jews registered. Alia, knowing what will happen if her friend Suzanne and her daughter registered, takes it upon herself to be their savior. Suffering abuse at the hands of the SS commander, she tries to keep her friends safe, but there’s nothing she can do if they are caught.
The Archangel Michael comes to her occasionally, talking with her about things she left behind and about things she’s doing now. His visits are not easy.
As the occupation gets tighter and the French Resistance fights to free their country, Alia begins to see that she has to sacrifice herself, her dignity, to keep everyone she loves from being swallowed up in the Nazi cleansing.
Broken is a very different kind of paranormal book. Traci L. Slatton has built her world around Alia and her loneliness and rebellion. Then she populated it with interesting new characters and famous people like Pablo Picasso. As I kept reading, I saw the historical events that happened to the people of France at the hands of the Nazi’s from a very personal point of view.
This book is certainly not for the faint of heart. Slatton doesn’t pull any punches with the storyline and the book is very well researched. Her weaving of the historical and the fictional is masterfully done and she includes a selected bibliography of works on World War II and the Nazi occupation and resistance in France. She knows her history well and that makes the set-up of scenes come alive as she has Alia walk through her human life. As a historian myself with some extensive reading on the period and the particular settings she uses, I appreciate the attention to the detail, even when it made me uncomfortable. At the end, I had to sit and just let the story play out in my head, and my heart. This is one book that will stay with me long after I write this.
I recommend Broken to anyone with a love of history and those who love a well-researched historical novel. The paranormal aspect with the angels is very secondary to the historical plot and it work well.