September 1941, Kiev.
Life for teenage sisters Natasha and Lisa Smirnova is about to change beyond their worst fears.
Despite Stalin’s assurances to hold the Ukrainian capital at all costs, Hitler has ordered his troops into the Ukraine and for the Russians and Ukrainians living there, it heralds a terrible time of fear, hunger and peril.
All too soon, the danger of living under Nazi occupation impacts on the lives of the ordinary citizens.
The eldest Smirnov son, Stanislav, sets off to fight for the Red Army at the front.
On the brink of marriage to her fiancé Alexei, Lisa’s happiness quickly turns to despair.
Her older sister Natasha watches as their frail grandmother stands up to a Nazi and pays a hard price. But who is the mysterious soldier who steps in to rescue Natasha?
As the harsh winter of 1941 draws in, the Smirnov family watch Jewish friends dragged from their homes, never to return.
The family are further torn by war when Natasha’s father is taken away.
Distraught Natasha turns to Mark, a Hungarian who she grows quickly fond of.
The consequences of their relationship could be dire for both Natasha and Mark if they are discovered, and their future looks fragile.
Two years pass and the noise of Red Army planes is heard once again over Kiev, prompting new hope to rise up among the citizens of the city.
The Nazis look set to move out, but will the Smirnovs’ loved ones ever return to Kiev?
Natasha waits and hopes for better times to return, not knowing whether she will ever see the people she cares for again.
Savaged Lands is a novel of love and loss, which chronicles the lives of ordinary citizens of Kiev during this dark and desperate period of their history in World War 2. Its descriptions and characters portray the horrors, and ultimately the hopes, of family members looking to survive oppression and starvation.
Whilst moving and chilling in parts, it ultimately bears testimony to the strength of the people of Kiev, and to their faith that life and love could still prevail against all the odds.