Daughter of the Sky by Michelle Diener

August 1st, 2013 Kimberly Review 57 Comments

1st Aug
Daughter of the Sky by Michelle Diener
Daughter of the Sky
by Michelle Diener
Genres: Historical Fiction
Source: Author
Purchase: Amazon
Rating: One StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star

The Victorian Empire has declared war on the Zulus if they don't accede to their outrageous demands. The clock is ticking down to the appointed hour. With no idea why the British are marching three massive columns of men and guns towards them, one Zulu general is prepared to take an impossible risk. But the life he's gambling with isn't his own . . . The sole survivor of a shipwreck off the Zululand coast, 15-year-old Elizabeth Jones is taken in by the Zulus, the people of the sky. Six years later, her white skin becomes useful to the Zulu army as they try to work out why the Victorian Empire has pointed their war-machine at the Zulu nation. Elizabeth is suddenly Zululand's most important spy. While infiltrating the British camp, Elizabeth's disguise as a young soldier is uncovered almost immediately by Captain Jack Burdell. However, he believes the tale she spins of searching for a missing brother and shields her from discovery, allowing her to bunk in his tent and giving her a job as his batman. Burdell is war-weary and disillusioned - no longer willing to follow regulations at all costs. But as Elizabeth and Jack explore their growing attraction to each other, the two armies move towards their inevitable clash. Elizabeth is torn between the guilt of betrayal and her fierce loyalty to her Zulu family, and when Zulu and British meet on the battlefield, both she and Jack find their hearts and their lives caught in the crossfire.

This was my first adventure involving the Victorian empire and Zululand, South Africa. Daughter of the Sky is a story about war, spies, and greed laced with romance and fascinating characters. I found myself swept up in the historical events and the beautiful landscape. Three-word review: captivating, adventurous and passionate.

Diener takes us to Zululand in the late 1800’s a time when the British Empire was conquering lands to secure their dominance. Here we meet Elizabeth Jones a redheaded white woman who survived a ship-wreck at fifteen and was taken in by a Zulu family. Her Zulu family and the Zulu way of life have become very important to her, and as the British Empire make their way towards them Elizabeth finds herself a key part of the Zulus strategy to stop the British. Disguised as a young soldier she infiltrates their camp as a spy and the tale that unfolds was captivating, touching and a fascinating look at this time period.

Elizabeth and her story immediately captivated me. She is strong, brave, patient and conflicted. Her back history plays a role in her decisions and she felt genuine. I really would have liked the tale to start sooner, or flashback on her life in Zulu. Captain Jack Burdell is conflicted about his sense of duty and the war itself. He wasn’t really fleshed out enough for me, but I did like that he kept Elizabeth’s secret. The romance was sweet and I loved watching it unfold as the sexual tension slowly built and we waiting for one of them to make the first move. We get to know some of the characters on both sides of the war, giving us a personal perspective on this war and its people. Diener skillfully wraps you up knots and you find yourself rooting for both sides.

This was my first visit to Zululand and I was swept up in the details and panoramic views Diener provided. The tale flowed smoothly as she shared with us British and Zulu movements before the battle of Isandlwana. The novel is woven with historical tidbits and truths which I found fascinating. The daunting task of moving such a large troop across this unforgiving landscape was interesting and I enjoyed learning about the natives and their strategies. As I read I became curious about the actual events and I found myself searching Google for more information. I discovered that indeed a white child was ship-wrecked and adopted by a family and that after the battle survivors were questioned about a woman. *shivers* We are privy to multiple perspectives through journals, letters and thoughts and these provided the most insight into the characters themselves. From a historical perspective, the tale was enthralling and I loved learning about these events. Diener’s love and passion for this period and place are evident in her words. Each chapter begins with correspondence from both governments and it helped give you a sense of the political climate. While the characters were unique and had their own voice, I would have liked them to be fleshed out more. Call me greedy but I wanted to know more about Elizabeth’s time in Zulu and I really would have liked to know Jack more. This is the type of novel that could easily have handled more pages and swept us up from the shipwreck to the battle itself. I enjoyed the novel and would love to revisit Zululand.

Fans of historical fiction will find Daughter of the Sky to be a fascinating look at the Battle of Isandlwana with a side dish of romance.

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About Kimberly

Kimberly is a coffee loving book addict who reads and listens to fictional stories in all genres. She’s a self-professed Whovian, as well as a Supernatural, and Sherlock Holmes junkie, She enjoys sharing books, tips, recipes and hosting the Sunday Post. The coffee is always on and she is ready to chat…

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57 Responses to “Daughter of the Sky by Michelle Diener”

    • kimbacaffeinate

      oh I so agree Blodeuedd, I love these exotic settings wrapped in history.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      It was a fascinating and sad period in history, and I enjoyed read about it, thanks Tanja:)

  1. Sharon - Obsession with Books

    From the cover I wouldn’t have picked this as a historical fiction, but I do quite like it. It also sounds great! War, greed, spies + romance has me quite intrigued.

    A wonderful review!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      it was a good one, thanks Sharon and yes the cover doesn’t quite match.

  2. Nick

    While this is not the kind of book that I usually read, I like that it’s set in South Africa. It also sounds like the author did a great job at depicting the setting. I also really like the sound of the plot.
    Glad to hear that you enjoyed it, Kim! 🙂
    Great review!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I loved the setting, it was nice traveling somewhere I have never been:)

    • kimbacaffeinate

      thanks Jenea, have a great day I cannot believe it is August already. When do your kiddies go back to school?

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Yes you should I love this author, my favorite was the Emperor’s Conspiracy.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      me too, I would love to travel the world and not just to tourist destinations but places off the beaten path.

  3. Kristen

    I haven’t read much historical fiction in the past few years, not since grade school, really. But this is a piece of history I’m not familiar with at all and that really appeals to me. I might have to go out of my comfort zone and check this one out!

    Kristen recently posted: The Case Against Multitasking.
    • kimbacaffeinate

      Right, I loved that it was a new period for me and would love to hear your thoughts if you read it:)

  4. Candace

    Oh this sounds FASCINATING! I love stories that have real historical events in them, ones we get a good story but learn stuff too. And this is something I’ve never read about and know nothing about. This one might have to go on the wishlist…

    • kimbacaffeinate

      that is exactly how I feel and I would love to revisit this period again.

  5. Andrea

    Wow, I’ve never read a book set in South Africa during the Victorian era, and it sounds fascinating. It seems like the author did an amazing amount of research. Your review is gorgeous and enthusiastic. Love it!

    Andrea recently posted:
    • kimbacaffeinate

      thanks Andrea, I really enjoy this author and found the setting and period to be fascinating.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Awesome Heidi I am glad:) This was interesting to read about, and I hope you get a chance to try it:)

    • kimbacaffeinate

      It was interesting getting the different perspectives but I would have love if this was another 300 pages and more detailed..LOL

  6. Kim

    What an amazing sounding historical. I sometimes forget how well you can be transported to a different time and place with a good historical. Thanks for the great review!

    Kim recently posted:
    • kimbacaffeinate

      That is one of the things I love about historical fiction:)

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I hear you..”I want more, I want more, I want more”

  7. Maida

    I really enjoy historical fiction, and I am very intrigued by this one. I love that there are such vivid details provided by the author and it sounds as if it was well-researched. I love it when authors do that! Plus, I love the sound of the romance (any romance is obviously awesome! lol ;p) and Elizabeth sounds like an admiring, strong character. I definitely need to check out Diener’s work! Glad you enjoyed this. Great review! 😀

    ~ Maida
    Literary Love Affair 

    Maida recently posted: Review: Frigid by J. Lynn
    • kimbacaffeinate

      I enjoy reading books from this author and find the deets so interesting:)

    • kimbacaffeinate

      It was good, I just wanted more..LOL I would still totally recommend it and the period was fascinating.

  8. Diamond

    Great review!
    I know next to nothing about that time / place in history. That’s so cool that you looked it up and there actually was a girl who fit that description, crazy.
    I have this book I won a copy from GR first reads and I will be getting to it soon *hopefully*. I hadn’t heard like anything about it though, so I was very glad you wrote a review 🙂

    Dee @ Dee’s Reads

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I loved that aspect, and want to explore more about this period, thanks Dee:)

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I really like this author and agreed I could have spent another 300 pages just learning about life there.

  9. Mandy

    I’ve not heard of this author before. But I do love historical fiction it’s one of my guilty pleasures.
    Thanks so much for sharing your review. I’ve added it to my ever growing TBR shelf.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I really enjoy her books and the Emperor’s Conspiracy is one of my favorites by her.

  10. Lauren

    I do love historical fiction, and I definitely haven’t read anything about this time and place before. It sounds like the author has done a lot of research and really does Zululand justice in this story. I would love to expand my horizons and give this one a try. Lovely review!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I love exploring places and periods I have never been too and it was delightful researched. Books that weave some truth into them are always amazing:)