by V.S. Alexander
Edition: ARC, 2018
Synopsis: Amid the turbulence of World War II, a young German woman finds a precarious haven closer to the source of danger than she ever imagined–one that will propel her through the extremes of privilege and terror under Hitler’s dictatorship . . .
In early 1943, Magda Ritter’s parents send her to relatives in Bavaria, hoping to keep her safe from the Allied bombs strafing Berlin. Young German women are expected to do their duty–working for the Reich or marrying to produce strong, healthy children. After an interview with the civil service, Magda is assigned to the Berghof, Hitler’s mountain retreat. Only after weeks of training does she learn her assignment: she will be one of several young women tasting the Fuhrer’s food, offering herself in sacrifice to keep him from being poisoned.
Perched high in the Bavarian Alps, the Berghof seems worlds away from the realities of battle. Though terrified at first, Magda gradually becomes used to her dangerous occupation–though she knows better than to voice her misgivings about the war. But her love for a conspirator within the SS, and her growing awareness of the Reich’s atrocities, draw Magda into a plot that will test her wits and loyalty in a quest for safety, freedom, and ultimately, vengeance.
Vividly written and ambitious in scope, The Taster examines the harrowing moral dilemmas of war in an emotional story filled with acts of extraordinary courage.
When she goes in search of a job, Magda finds herself assigned to be a taster for Adolf Hitler. Though she had little political inclination herself, she slowly comes to see just how inhumane the war is. Somehow, she must keep her true opinions to herself as she lives in the heart of the Reich.
To be honest, this left me with mixed feelings. The story is well researched and, for the most part, well written. Magda starting off with no real opinion about the war was a brilliant move, as it makes it easier to follow her journey. She did change her mind very quick merely because the man she was attracted to showed her pictures, but they were graphic images.
I especially liked the approach of “what-if” that the author used to tell this story. The telling of the story, how it ends, made it seem likely it could have happened in a similar manner.
There is a sex scene, though thankfully it is not detailed. There is also a rape scene which was in more detail. Towards the end, Magda’s journey did seem a little far-fetched, and the end was even more unbelievable.
Overall, I found it interesting if not exactly an instant favorite.