To Dream Of Shadows is described as
‘an epic tale of compassion, sacrifice, and the strength of the human spirit.’
To Dream Of Shadows by Steve N Lee was just published April 16th and is the first of two books ‘inspired by a true love story from history’s darkest hour’.
To celebrate its publication I have an extract to share with you all from the opening chapter which I do hope you enjoy.
[ About To Dream of Shadows ]
She will save hundreds of lives. But can she save her own?
Inspired by a previously untold true story.
1943. 18-year-old Czech, Inge is torn from her family and imprisoned in some godforsaken hellhole. There, she suffers month after month of torturous labor while praying for liberation by the Allies. But rescue never comes. And her dream of surviving the war dies.
Heinz, an SS Sergeant, has been force-fed the Reich’s poison since childhood, but nowadays, he covertly helps prisoners.
So when a random act of kindness thrusts Inge and Heinz together, they can’t resist being drawn to one another. Unable to deny their feelings, they dare to dream of a future, a life — together.
But their relationship does not go unnoticed. For Inge and Heinz, falling in love becomes a death sentence. And not just for them, but for all those they care about.
Inge makes an unthinkable sacrifice.
[ Extract – To Dream of Shadows, Chapter 1 (abridged) ]
Inge Zaleska wiped the sweat off her face on the short sleeve of her pink-and-white striped dress. She panted, even though she was doing nothing but sitting on her suitcase with her back against the side of the cattle car. Cursing under her breath, she glared at the tiny window crisscrossed with barbed wire high in the far left corner. The thing was worse than useless with eighty-six people crammed in the car under the baking sun.
She raked her fingers through her long, greasy black hair, pulling the straggly mess away from her face. Would it ever be silky soft again?
Grimacing, she struggled to flex her left shoulder, Mrs. Karkowski having slumped against it asleep again. The unbearable stuffiness saw many of the older travelers constantly dozing. Inge circled her shoulder, fighting to relieve the ache without disturbing her friend’s slumber. The pain didn’t go.
“I’m sorry, Mrs. Karkowski, but I have to move.” Inge eased Mrs. Karkowski’s head up, but instead of the old lady waking and greeting Inge with a wrinkled smile, clouded eyes stared like frozen millponds. Inge gasped and lurched away, bumping Mama on her other side.
Mrs. Karkowski crumpled over her knees.
Mama pulled Inge closer and shielded Inge’s younger sister. “Don’t look, Agata.”
Agata buried her face in Mama’s shoulder.
Robert, Inge’s stocky older brother, and a man in a blue shirt picked up the body.
Robert shouted, “Dead coming through.”
The sea of people parted, squashing themselves together just enough to create a narrow aisle to the far right corner. The two men shuffled along it.
Dead coming through. What a horrible and degrading send-off for a dignified woman. The only thing worse was how such a horrendous statement had become so commonplace that it was now more likely to irritate people at the inconvenience of having to move than to bring tears to their eyes.
In the corner, the men dumped the old lady on top of the other six bodies piled there.
Glassy-eyed, Agata said, “Why are they doing this, Mama?”
Mama stroked Agata’s short brown hair. “Don’t wonder about the bad things that are happening, sweetheart. Wonder about all the good things we’ll have when we’re resettled.”
“But I don’t want to be resettled. I want our old home, and my old school, and my old friends.”
Inge clasped Agata’s hand. “It’ll be fun, Aga. That nasty bully Vera Bosakova won’t be in your class anymore, you won’t have math with that horrible Mr. Sliz, and ice cream is half the price in the new place, isn’t it, Mama?”
“That’s what I heard.” Mama stroked Agata’s hair again and smiled at Inge. But her eyes didn’t smile. Inge could tell she was fighting to make it look genuine — fighting with all her might because of her love for her family — but such sadness lay in her eyes. Sadness Inge had never seen before. As if someone had said the sun was never going to shine again, so they’d spend the rest of their lives in darkness.
Someone shouted from the far side of the car, “Toilet bucket!”
A moment later, a bespectacled man passed a metal bucket to Mama, who passed it to Inge. The contents sloshed around and the stench clogged her nostrils. Holding the bucket at arm’s length, Inge screwed up her face and quickly passed it to the chubby man who’d spread into Mrs. Karkowski’s space.
The bucket reached a middle-aged woman who wept as she squatted over it, screened by a bald man and a boy encircling her with their jackets.
Three days ago, Inge had cried too when she’d had to relieve herself surrounded by so many strangers. Now, despite the revulsion and embarrassment, she was almost thankful for the bucket — its stink helped mask the one coming from the corner of the dead.
Robert crouched and nodded over his shoulder. “Someone saw a road sign through one of the cracks and thinks they recognized the name — a town in Latvia.”
“Latvia?” asked Mama. “Where the devil are they resettling us?”
“I don’t want to go to Latvia.” Agata clutched Mama.
Inge let her head fall against the side of the car and closed her eyes. Okay, so the journey was horrendous, but hadn’t she always dreamed of traveling? Wasn’t that why she’d studied languages so diligently? And now, here she was traveling. Of course, she’d pictured a luxury passenger carriage, not a cattle car, but travel was travel. Maybe this “resettlement” would be a good thing. A golden opportunity to start fresh.
Yes, that was it. She smirked. This wasn’t the end of her life — the way Agata imagined — but the start of it. A life filled with wonder and adventure.
So where was this adventure going to take her?
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[ Bio ]
Apart from animals and writing, Steve’s passion is travel. He’s visited 60 countries and enjoyed some amazing experiences, including cage-diving with great white sharks, sparring with a monk at a Shaolin temple, and watching a turtle lay eggs on a moonlit beach. He’s explored Machu Picchu, Pompeii, and the Great Wall of China, yet for all that, he’s a man of simple tastes — give him an egg sandwich and the TV remote control, and he’ll be happy for hours!
He lives in the North of England with his partner, Ania, and two black cats who arrived in the garden one day and liked it so much, they stayed. Graciously, the cats allow Steve and Ania to stay in ‘their’ house.
Website ~ https://stevenleebooks.com/
Twitter ~ @Steve_N_Lee
Thank you for sharing an extract of my book with your readers, Mairéad. Much appreciated!
Steve you are so very welcome!