Review & Excerpt: Hadamar: The House of Shudders, by Jason K. Foster

Jason K. Foster

on tour

December 2-27

with

Hadamar book cover

 

Hadamar:


The House of Shudders

(YA- Historical Fiction)
Based on true events

Release date: June 1, 2019
at Big Sky Publishing

370 pages

Website | Goodreads

SYNOPSIS

Nazi Germany is ruled by Hitler’s barbaric policies of racial cleansing. Ingrid Marchand’s only sin was to be born black. Horrifying institutions like Hadamar are where the undesirables – including the mentally and physically disabled and children – are systematically tortured, gassed and executed. It is where Ingrid is humiliated and brutalised and will encounter a depth of hatred the world has never seen before.
On the brink of starvation, can Ingrid survive the horrors of her incarceration and help bring her tormentors to justice?
Hadamar is a gripping tale of survival in a world of hatred, horror and insanity.

My Review

Hadamar was a tough book to read. It’s not that it was poorly written, because it wasn’t. It was vivid, and compelling. However, the subject matter is pretty dark, given that the book is set in a hospital the Nazis created in order to kill those people (children and adults, though a lot of children) that they felt were not proper Germans, or were disabled or wrong.

Despite the dark subject matter, the book was compelling, and especially the protagonist, Ingrid. Ingrid is of mixed race, with a white German mother and a black French father. At first, her father is taken away, and then she is sterilized. That’d be enough, but then the Nazis take her away from her mother and move her to Hadamar.

The book covers until the end of the war, so there is a lot of historical detail, and a lot to take in. There is also a decent resolution, which I wasn’t certain of, given the subject matter.

This was well worth the read. I expect it would be of special interest to those studying WWII, or other subjects attached to it. I’d like to read other books by this author as their writing is strong and I expect they would do well no matter what their subject.

Excerpt – Chapter 1

Standing either side of me they placed their hands under my armpits, lifted me up off the chair and took me away to an adjacent room. Inside, there were medical stands with hanging bags, and metal trays bearing all kinds of silver tools. In the centre of the room was a bed. At the end were two leg clamps that resembled horse stirrups and on either side there were two more belts. The nurses threw me down heavily onto the bed and attached a black leather strap across my chest, forced my arms along the outer parts of the bed then fastened my wrists into place.

I tried to move my arms. I tried to flip my chest from side to side. It was useless. I went to kick my feet, but the nurses had a tight hold of them as they fixed them into the stirrups and strapped them into place. The two nurses covered their faces in white masks and gloves as the two Obersturmführer appeared. The older doctor paused over my abdomen as he pressed his fingers down on either side of my belly button. He turned around and reached for a large knife.

Hovering above me, the blade glinted in the artificial light as he twisted his hand. With his left hand he retrieved a small square of white bandage. Momentarily placing the knife beside me, he picked up a brown bottle, placed the bandage across the top and tipped it. After dabbing my belly with the bandage, he put the bottle down and picked up the knife once more. I watched on, utterly helpless.

He plunged the knife into me.

At first I felt nothing but the pressure of the scalpel as it drove its way in. I remember thinking that my blood was the same colour as anyone else’s. Then came the most excruciating pain I had ever felt; as if someone was driving a hot poker into my sides and twisting it around and around. I scrunched my eyes closed, but I could still feel the doctor’s careless cutting as he carved me up like a butcher hacking up a carcass. I begged myself to pass out but I couldn’t. Instead I opened my eyes, lifted my head as high as I could, and watched as he reached for another tool that looked like a pair of scissors. Unable to raise my head any higher I couldn’t see what he was doing, but I heard a loud clicking sound. Then I felt a needle being threaded through me.

He cut me again, on the second mark he had made. I felt the same sensation: the scalpel penetrating my skin, the same jagged slicing, the clicking sound.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Hadamar - Jason K FosterJason K. Foster
is an author, poet, freelance journalist and high school teacher.
He holds a Bachelor of Arts (Communications)
and Graduate Diploma in Teaching from WSU
as well as a Master of Arts (History) from Macquarie University
and a Diploma in Spanish from Macquarie University.
Jason is widely travelled having spent time in five continents and over fifty countries.
He has taught in Australia, the United Kingdom, Spain and Argentina;
experiences that bring a distinct range and unique world view to his writing.
He has published ten books in the true crime and historical narratives genres.
He has also been published the world over
with his work appearing in a range of mediums
from History magazines in the United States to Australian travel magazines
to Poetry Anthologies in the United Kingdom.

Follow the author on Facebook
Visit his website

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Article: Don’t Write What You Know

From The Atlantic, by Bret Johnston. (read the full article here) He writes:

Instead of thinking of my experiences as structures I wanted to erect in fiction, I started conceiving of them as the scaffolding that would be torn down once the work was complete. I took small details from my life to evoke a place and the people who inhabit it, but those details served to illuminate my imagination. Before, I’d forced my fiction to conform to the contours of my life; now I sought out any and every point where a plot could be rerouted away from what I’d known. The shift was seismic. My confidence waned, but my curiosity sprawled. I was writing fiction, to paraphrase William Trevor, not to express myself, but to escape myself. When I recall those stories now, the flashes of autobiography remind me of stars staking a constellation. Individually, the stars are unimportant; only when they map shapes in the darkness, shapes born of imagination, do we understand their light.

I highly recommend going to read the entire article. It made me think about how I should be using my own knowledge and experiences (or not) within my writing.