Star Of The North by D.B John Harvill Secker May 10th 2018
North Korea and the USA are on the brink of war
A young American woman disappears without trace from a South Korean island.
The CIA recruits her twin sister to uncover the truth.
Now, she must go undercover in the world’s most deadly state.
Only by infiltrating the dark heart of the terrifying regime will she be able to save her sister…and herself.
Billed as the ‘most explosive thriller of the year’ Harvill Secker and Dead Good Books are thrilled to offer ten lucky readers the opportunity to read this amazingly thrilling novel and win a special edition proof copy.
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My Short Review
Before your begin this thriller, put everything on hold, and turn your phone off. Star Of The North is a novel that will hook you in, immersing you in the incredible story of three people, and it will not let you go until you have read the final page.
We meet Jenna Williams, a Korean/American and a lecturer in Foreign Affairs. A woman who has few friends, living with the trauma of her twin sister, Soo-min’s disappearance from a South Korean Beach in 1998. Against her better judgement, but hopeful that she can find the twin sister that she believes is still alive, she is recruited by the CIA and is soon drawn into a deadly game of politics with the hierarchy of the North Korean regime. She is feisty, brave, clever, and unflinching in her determination to find her sister.
Cho is a high ranking North Korean official, soon to be promoted and bringing him one step closer to the despotic ruler that is Kim Jon-Il. He has all the trappings of a man in favour, a loving wife and son and a lifestyle many North Korean’s can only dream about. A trip to New York and an encounter with Jenna alters the course of his life forever. The consequences of his actions are truly shocking and John spares absolutely no details in his descriptions.
Finally we meet Mrs Moon and oh how I adored this character. Mrs Moon works the land until she decides to try her hand at selling her wonderful cooking at the the local train station. It brings her into contact with other traders, the local police, and a world of bribery, corruption and fear. She is the character that epitomises what it is to be a North Korean, it is a world of starvation, untold hardship and ultimately fear.
John’s narrative is just superb. The images that he conjured up in my mind were ones that seemed almost unbelievable, yet I just knew that there were strong elements of truth in what he wrote. The horror of the prison camps and the constant fear that North Koreans must live in is written about in graphic detail, yet it is never sensationalist, always relevant and in keeping with the story.
The tension is at times unbearable and the pace unrelenting with very little time to draw breath before John plunged into the next segment of the story.
Just when you think the tension is at its peak, John took it further, and the latter parts of the novel were breathtaking, leaving me quite exhausted!
Star Of The North deserves to be a huge success, it has everything you would want in a thriller and more. The characters are wonderful and John’s portrayal of a country closed to the west unflinching. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
I would like to thank Angela McMahon and Harvill Secker for a proof copy to read and review and for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.
About the author
D. B. JOHN was born in Wales. He began training as a lawyer but switched to a career in publishing, editing popular children’s books on history and science. In 2009 he moved to Berlin, Germany, to write his first novel, Flight from Berlin. A visit to North Korea in 2012 inspired Star of the North. He lives in Angel, London.
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