Review: Rising Sun, Falling Shadow by Daniel Kalla

November 14, 2013 Historical Fiction, Review, Tor Books 2

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Forge Books (September 24, 2013)
  • ISBN-10: 0765337649
  • Source: Publisher

*Note: This is the sequel to The Far Side of the Sky. It is recommended that you read this book first.

1943 Shanghai: Over 20,000 Jewish refugees seeking safety in Shanghai are forced by the Japanese to move into a “relocation” camp, a one-kilometer area known as the “Shanghai Ghetto.”  Dr. Franz Adler and his new wife, Sunny, struggle to run the city’s only hospital for refugee Jews. The Adlers struggle to keep their family united, always fearful of being discovered by the Nazis or Japanese. Due to the internment of British and American citizens, Franz’s pregnant sister-in-law, Esther, is separated from her husband, Simon. While Simon is able to evade capture, the life he is forced to live in hiding is less than desirable.

While Franz tries to find the best in their current situation, Sunny cannot get over her father’s death and is desperate for revenge. Unbeknownst to Franz, Sunny joins in an underground resistance group.   Franz’s daughter, Hannah, barely a teen herself, struggles to be recognized as more than a young girl. This struggle puts her directly in harms way and she becomes involved in a smuggling ring, carrying contraband into restricted areas.  Meanwhile, Franz struggles to treat the injured refugees with minimal supplies, under the watchful eye of power-hungry individuals who would like to do away with the hospital and the Jewish refugees…permanently.

Kalla creates an incredible and terrifying world in Rising Sun, Falling Shadow. While the premise seems dark, an underlying element of hope and love of family is what stands out most to this reader. Additionally, although this is the second book in a series, the characters introduced in the first novel continue to grow and develop, becoming genuine individuals that readers will connect with and become attached to. Watching the family go through these numerous struggles, overcoming despite the highest of odds, is endearing and heartwarming.  What stands out to me most of all, however, is how little we as American citizens know about this torture and cruelty that transpired in Shanghai. We are all aware of the Nazi occupation in Germany but I am shocked to admit I was unaware of the atrocities that took place  against those struggling to seek refuge outside their homeland.

I genuinely do recommend that you do start with the first book in the series before starting this one. While it can serve as an adequate standalone, you will miss out on a great deal of character building and development by leaping right into Rising Sun, Falling Shadow. It’s a dark part of our world’s history that at times, is quite difficult to swallow. That said, what Kalla has created in this series is incredibly endearing, hopeful,  and ultimately, wholly rewarding. He doesn’t inundate the reader with overwhelming amounts of historical facts, instead focusing on the individuals who experienced it. Highly, highly recommended.


2 Responses to “Review: Rising Sun, Falling Shadow by Daniel Kalla”

  1. rhonda

    This is why I love your blog I read The Far Side if the Sky had no idea there was a,sequel.

  2. Daniel Kalla

    Thanks for this review, Jenn. It’s a terrific synopsis, and I feel you really get to the heart of what I’m trying to convey here. Namely, that this is a slice of little known history that is well worth remembering. Thanks again.