Happy Sunday !
Today, I am the last stop of The House of One Thousand Eyes by Michelle Barker blog tour. I am really happy to have been able to participate and celebrate this fall release. This is the first book I had read by Michelle Barker. The House of One Thousand Eyes is a historical fiction young adult novel about seventeen-year-old Lena, who was orphaned when her parents were killed in a tragic accident and she is being raised by her aunt, heavily devoted to the communist party and searches for her uncle, a writer after he disappears after an afternoon visit. It was such an enjoyable read. I was encaptured to this novel. The cover itself really captures the essence of the book.
Scroll down for an interview with the lovely Michelle Barker and a chance to enter for a giveaway!
Make sure you check out all the other reviews, posts and excerpt, even soundtrack/playlist for the book !!
The House of One Thousand Eyes
Published September 11th 2018
Historical Fiction/ Young Adult/ Mental Health
Who can Lena trust to help her find out the truth? Life in East Germany in the early 1980s is not easy for most people, but for Lena, it’s particularly hard. After the death of her parents in a factory explosion and time spent in a psychiatric hospital recovering from the trauma, she is sent to live with her stern aunt, a devoted member of the ruling Communist Party. Visits with her beloved Uncle Erich, a best-selling author, are her only respite. But one night, her uncle disappears without a trace. Gone also are all his belongings, his books, and even his birth records. Lena is desperate to know what happened to him, but it’s as if he never existed. The worst thing, however, is that she cannot discuss her uncle or her attempts to find him with anyone, not even her best friends. There are government spies everywhere. But Lena is unafraid and refuses to give up her search, regardless of the consequences. This searing novel about defiance, courage, and determination takes readers into the chilling world of a society ruled by autocratic despots, where nothing is what it seems.
My Personal Thoughts
* Given a arc to review from Annick Press. All My thoughts and opinion are my mine own.*
It has been a long time since I have read an excellent young adult historical fiction novel. I wish publishers market more YA historical fiction novels. There are authors who write historical fiction who write very blandly, almost reading from a grade ten history textbook that’s fallen apart, terribly well-developed characters and dry pacing. Barker’s nothing short of thrilling. The House Of One Thousand Eyes captures a deeply emotional testament. Crafted gaudily, intimidating of political intrigue in Germany early 1980s, captivating the suspense and intensity of history. This novel is not light-hearted. Its dark and gut-wrenching as Lena, the main character takes you over the wall, into the shadows of prostitution, crime, and addiction, and poverty.
Lena is a strong-minded female heroine. Lena character is vulnerable and daring. I love her from the beginning. Her heart is full of imagination and hope. Her world is paranoid and upsetting. Lena character goes through trials and tribulations. She is orphaned after a tragic accident, hospitalized for recovery and living with her strict loyal aunt. Her aunt does want Lena making any mistakes, only tranquil and uncomplicated. Her escape is with her uncle, a writer, and anti-communist. Then he disappears as if he never existed. Lena follows a dark and disturbing path to search for her uncle despite the consequences.
Overall, I was beyond impress with The House of OneThousand Eyes. I believe that this book would be excellent for book clubs and discussions in classrooms
Author Q & A with Michelle Barker !
1. Not only is the cover of the book compelling, disturbing, and intriguing, the story itself is, too. What inspired you to write The House of One Thousand Eyes?
I was first of all inspired to write this novel because my mother grew up in East Germany and escaped in 1953 when she was 17. So I’ve always been interested in the country. But two other things happened that made me REALLY want to write about East Germany: I read the book, Stasiland, by Anna Funder, and I saw the movie, The Lives of Others. Both are about the oppression of East Germans by the secret police (the Stasi). Until then, I hadn’t fully appreciated what my mother had been escaping from, and once I did, I couldn’t help but want to write about it.
2. I notice that you wrote A Year of Borrowed Men, a historical fiction illustration. How much time do you spend on research, was there a difference of research when writing A Year of Borrowed Men to The House of Thousands Eyes? How do you begin your research process?
I spend a lot of time on research, mainly because I’m not a historian and I’m afraid of making mistakes. If I’m going to set my novels in a particular historical period, I want the reader to feel as if they’re fully immersed in that time and place. I want them to feel like they’re living it. In order to achieve that, you really do have to do a lot of work.
When I’m beginning the research process, I try to find a general history book from the time period that gives me a feeling for the place and sets out the basic facts. From there I compile a list of books that I think might help me. I read as widely as I can, not just history books but also memoirs and novels set in that time period. I also watch movies and television shows that focus on the era. When it comes to Germany, there is so much information to choose from it’s almost dizzying. I will never feel as if I know all that I need to know about that country.
The process of research was different for A Year of Borrowed Men because the story was based on my mother’s life as a child growing up in Germany during World War Two. So I spent a long time talking to her and asking her questions. I couldn’t do as much of that for The House of One Thousand Eyes because she had left the country long before 1983, when the novel is set, and this story is completely fictional. I missed being able to call her or send her an email to get quick answers to difficult questions. But I found a few other excellent sources: one was a blogger named Penny Croucher who has written excellent guidebooks on Germany, and the other was Oliver Fritz and his wonderful autobiography, The Iron Curtain Kid.
3. This is a novel set when the government on the East side dictates what you watch, how you speak, where you work, and what you do with your time. And if you step out of line-- they can make you disappear. Why did you choose this setting for the book?
Mainly because it terrified me. When I visited the Stasi Headquarters in Berlin, I kept having to remind myself: this was not a James Bond movie or a dystopian novel. This actually happened. Governments can have that kind of power, and if you have the misfortune to live under such a regime, your life can be ruined. I wanted to explore what it might have felt like to live there, and I also wanted to appreciate what many of my relatives had lived through.
I also believed that this setting would be a rich source of material and would have built-in tension—perfect for a novel.
4. Lena’s character goes through a lot of tribulations. From the loss of her parents, to being sent to a psychiatric hospital, recovering from trauma, living in an influential Communist Party household, and fear of the government on her back as she desperately searches for answers for her missing uncle. Was there a part of the journey writing this novel that was difficult to write?
Yes, many parts were difficult. There were certain chapters that I dreaded having to work on because I knew terrible things happened to Lena in them. I won’t say which ones, because I don’t want to ruin the book for anyone, but even now I remember the numbers and I wince when I see those sections. They were mainly the parts when she interacts with an important government official.
Lena’s memories of the psychiatric hospital were also hard for me. And finally—the ending. Again, I won’t ruin it for readers, but I struggled to write the ending of the novel—not because I wasn’t sure how to end it, but because I was.
5. What do you want readers to take away from reading The House of One Thousand Eyes?
That’s a difficult question. When I was writing the novel, I did not have any kind of message in mind. I only wanted to tell a good story. Now that it’s done, I suppose I hope readers would take a good look around at where they live—not only to appreciate the freedoms they have, which we so often take for granted, but also to realize that these freedoms can disappear.
Power corrupts, and as John Dalberg Acton said, absolute power corrupts absolutely. The more I study history, the more I believe it is an essential way of keeping our eyes open to what is possible. No one thought Nazi Germany would happen. No one expected the Berlin Wall. We need to know that these things are possible so that we can guard against them ever happening again.
6. Are there any book recommendations (fiction or non-fiction) that you have if readers want to explore more in depth about the Cold War, The Berlin Wall, Hohenschonhausen, House 18 or even personal stories of living behind the iron curtain?
Definitely! Anna Funder’s Stasiland and Oliver Fritz’s The Iron Curtain Kid were essential sources for me. Both are non-fiction. In terms of YA fiction, Graffiti Knight, by Karen Bass and Sektion 20, by Paul Dowswell, are excellent novels.
7) How can readers discover more about you and your work?
Readers can visit my website: www.michellebarker.ca or follow me on Twitter @MBarker_190. I’m also on Facebook @MichelleBarkerAuthor. Reviews of my work are on Goodreads and I often post reviews there as well. I look forward to meeting you all!
I am hosting The House of One Thousands Eyes Giveaway !!! This giveaway is to celebrate the release of The House of One Thousands Eyes and say thank you for all the support to tuning to all the book bloggers who have participated in this blog tour. Your visit to their page or comment has been wonderful. This is a pretty fantastic bundle to win!
Enter to win A hardcover copy of House of One Thousand Eyes, bookmarks, a hardcover copy of Fire Song and an Amazon Giftcard for $25
Check it out HERE
1. OPEN ONLY TO CANADA & USA .
2. Open from Sunday 16th 2018 until Wednesday 19th 2018. I will notify the winner after the giveaway closes via email. The winner has 24 hours to contact me unless otherwise stated. I will select a new winner after the 24 hour period expires if no one responds.
3. If any questions or concerns please contact me right away at email@example.com
Check out fellow book bloggers participating in the tour !