Book Review – Mischling

Mischling by Affinity Konar (Atlantic Books) ISBN: 9781786490841

I’m hesitant to pick up another World War II novel. There have been many re-tellings, and it’s not easy to be original in this genre.

In this account, Pearl and Stasha arrive at Dr Josef Mengele’s camp for twins at Auschwitz in 1944, delivered by their mother and grandfather. The horrors of the concentration camps are different for these twins. They believe they are better off, better treated, better fed, and perhaps they are. The dehumanisation of children – experiments that at best are weak attempts to stumble upon some “scientific” discovery and at worst, slow agonising torture of innocent victims. Characters are camouflaged by the appearance of medical knowledge, yet devoid of ethics and morals – this makes for difficult subject matter.

The author’s writing is attractive – there is lots of imagination and imagery in her style, but I kept hearing an older voice than the 12-year-old twins doing the telling. The plot was well balanced, and held my attention for the best part.

We cannot and should not forget the horrors that abounded from that time, but I fear that this rendition has nothing more to add, and unless it’s your first encounter with this history, is unremarkable.

Bev Bouwer

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Posted on: 6th August 2017