Title: The Diamond Eye
Author: Kate Quinn
Genre: Historical Fiction
First published: March 29th 2022
Publisher: William Morrow
Finished reading: April 12th 2022
Pages: 448

“I didn’t necessarily want the other side dead; I only wanted them gone. But they weren’t going, and so help me, I would settle for dead.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and William Morrow in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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I really enjoy the way Kate Quinn writes her historical fiction, so of course I couldn’t say no to reading her newest WWII story… And I’m glad I wasn’t able to resist, because The Diamond Eye turned out to be yet another fantastic book. There is just something about her writing style and her well researched historical facts mixed seamlessly with the fictional that are able to grab you immediately, and I was under Lyudmila’s spell as soon as I started reading. What a read!

It truly shows just how well researched Kate Quinn‘s stories always are, and The Diamond Eye is even more facts than usual as it’s partly based on the actual memoir of female Russian sniper Lyudmila Pavlichenko. While it’s true that things can be said about the credibility of the content of that memoir as at least part of it could be simply Russian propaganda, but what counts is that Kate Quinn is able to make the facts FEEL real. Of course certain liberties have been taken with events and characters (all explained by the author in the final pages), but that is what historical fiction is about in the first place… The result: a perfect blend of facts and fiction and an extremely engaging and heart wrenching story.

I always love a good WWII historical fiction read, but it’s hard to find one that is different than the typical content. The Diamond Eye seems to fit the bill though. Instead of the usual suspects, we have the main focus on Lyudmila Pavlichenko, a Russian student and mother who saw herself forced to join the war to protect the future of her son. We get to know her just before, but the part that is most interesting is her life as a female soldier and later sniper of course. The descriptions of the war, her bond with her fellow soldiers, the fighting, the ‘hunts’ as snipers… They are all so vivid and thorough that it really feels as if you are right next to Lyudmila experiencing it all.

The story has various POVs and two different timelines. Part of it takes place in the past, mainly during 1937-1941, where we get to know Lyudmila and her experiences before and during the war. The other important storyline takes place during 1942 in the US, where Lyudmila meets president Roosevelt and his wife and goes on a promotion tour throughout the country to rally support for the US opening a second front in the war. The unlikely budding friendship between Eleanor and Lyudmila makes for a great contrast with the heavier moments and really helps balancing things out. On top of this, we have the POV of the mysterious marksman on a mission… And Eleanor’s thoughts in between.

The Diamond Eye is of course quite a heavy read considering it talks about WWII and the experiences of a Russian female sniper at the front, but there are also elements to balance things out. I already mentioned the budding friendship with the First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, but you will also find a little dose of romance to lighten things up. Not all is roses and sunshine and things can be said about the love triangle vibe, but I personally didn’t mind too much and the way everything was described felt realistic (although sometimes frustrating and even heartbreaking).

I can keep talking about this story, but I don’t want to give away too much about the plot… What is important is that The Diamond Eye is a fantastic piece of WWII historical fiction that manages to balance facts and fiction perfectly. Raw, engaging, shocking and heartfelt at the same time; Lyudmila will steal your heart and stamp all over it before you reach that final page. The Huntress is still my absolute favorite title so far, but this one comes a close second!


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