I received a free copy of this ebook to review from NetGalley, on behalf of the publisher.
Rising Sun, Falling Shadow, by Daniel Kalla, is the sequel to The Far Side of the Sky. I haven’t read the first book in the series, but I didn’t feel lost. There are frequent short summaries of events from the first book that caught me up. Rising Sun, Falling Shadow drops us into the middle of the bloody, brutal theater of China’s World War II. Japan has invaded and is enforcing their rule mercilessly. Kalla takes us to Shanghai, where a small group of Europeans lives in exile. Some of them are British and French diplomats that are now cut off from their governments. Others are White Russian refugees that have been in the city since the Revolution. And a few are Jews that fled central Europe, looking for safety.
Our protagonists are Franz and Sunny Adler. Franz fled Austria five years prior to this book’s beginning, after the Anschluß. Sunny is a Eurasian who has lived in Shanghai all her life. Together, they work at a small, badly supplied hospital that cares for the Jewish community that has grown in the city. When the Japanese require the Jews to move to a small section of the city, a ghetto (though they refuse to call it that), life only gets harder from the Adlers and their friends and neighbors.
The book moves incredibly quickly. Babies are born. People are arrested and escape. Plots are formulated and either executed or foiled. There’s little time for character in all the hubbub, but Kalla does give you a strong sense of both Franz and Sunny. (The same can’t really be said for any other character, unfortunately.) Summarizing it all would take almost as many pages as Kalla did to tell the story.
Rising Sun, Falling Shadow, above all else, gave me a strong sense of the chaos of World War II China and the desperation that its citizens and inhabitants must have felt. There was no time to recover from one crisis before another descended. It’s a wonder that anyone could hold on to their sanity under such pressure.