Moving Fiction Set During the Holocaust: Review of The End of Law by Therese Down

Leah Courtney
Last year I had the opportunity to review Only With Blood- a novel by Therese Down. She was a new to me author, but I loved the book. It was haunting, with a dark note but a wonderful story. When I came across another novel from her to review, I was thrilled.

Review of The End of Law, historical fiction
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The End of Law is fiction set during the Holocaust. The book follows Hedda, a German girl. Hedda's father works for a large medical supplier, and her mother lives out a vague, often meaningless existence. When Hedda is a grown woman, she meets and marries an up and coming SS officer and begins a life of mediocrity. She rarely has any emotion, and to her husband she is a decoration of sorts. Meanwhile the country is following Adolf Hitler as he begins dealing with "the Jewish problem" and advancing the Aryan race.

Hedda knows and cares little about what is going on in the country, but her husband is a devoted SS officer who lives for the accolades he gets. He ends up as a chief officer in the T4 program- the secret group devoted to euthanizing first the "unworthy" Germans- often those deemed mentally disabled- and later the Jewish people. Hedda's father ends up as a part of this program as well, developing combinations of medications that can aid in killing as efficiently as possible. Another member of the group is a man Hedda once dated as a young woman. This man, Karl, begins to struggle with his conscious as he sees the atrocities committed by his country grow and grow.

The story follows Hedda and the three men as the war advances. It's a dark story. It was a dark time historically. As Hedda awakens more and more to what is going on around her, readers can feel the disbelief that many Germans had at the things their government was becoming capable of.

The characters in the story are extremely well developed. I felt as if I got to know each by turn. The best stories allow readers inside the characters' heads, and The End of Law did this.

I've always wondered about the way that Germans viewed the war and the atrocities committed by their own government. Through the eyes of Hedda, her husband Walter, Karl, and Hedda's father, I had a view of the various ways that Germans responded to the horror.

The End of Law is an extremely thought-provoking and moving book. It was one I didn't want to put down. It's hard to describe a book about this time in history as "good." But it's one I was thoroughly absorbed in.

At the end of the book, the author takes time to talk about some of the real people who stood against Hitler's Reich. I think it makes the book even more compelling to think of the real people it's based upon.

I give the book five stars and an R rating for content (much violence, some graphic).

You can find The End of Law on Kregel here or on Amazon here.

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Leah Courtney / Author & Editor

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