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 *affiliate
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. Whovian, Ravenclaw, Howler and proud Nonna. She owns and manages Caffeinated PR. The coffee is always on and she is ready to chat. Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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

  1. 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:)

  2. 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.

  3. Aurian

    Not really a timeperiod that is fun to read about, but the historical background sure is interesting. You should try some Barbara Bickmore.

  4. Diana Leigh

    I’ve had my eye on this one for a while. Amazing setting! Too bad her life with the Zulus wasn’t explored more, though sounds like it was still enjoyable.

    • kimbacaffeinate

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

  5. 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:)

  6. Christy

    Okay, now this sounds really interesting. The characters needing to be fleshed out worries me a little since I’m such a character person, but still. Great review, Kim!

    • kimbacaffeinate

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

  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 

    • kimbacaffeinate

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

  8. Michele

    Zululand sounds wonderful — very intriguing review, lovely!

    I’ve missed so much during my blog hiatus while we were moving! I’m loving your new digs! *browses and touches all the things* Congratulations on a successful move! <3

  9. Melissa (Books and Things)

    This sounds different and I’m a fan of different. However, usually with these kinds of stories I’m usually begging for more on the culture and land of the people there and not just on the “invaders” and their perspective. Still, I’m curious about that world. Hm…

    • kimbacaffeinate

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

  10. 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!

    • kimbacaffeinate

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

  11. Maja (The Nocturnal Library)

    I don’t know how I feel about multiple perspectives, but spies and romance are a guaranteed success. I am also very curious about Zululand and I love that the author gives enough (and colorful) information.

    • kimbacaffeinate

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

  12. Heidi

    I remember when Blod reviewed this and I thought it sounded really interesting. I know nothing about this era and I love that it is actually based on true events. Makes it even more exciting! Yes, the weird symbols are gone today 🙂

    • kimbacaffeinate

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

  13. 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!

    • kimbacaffeinate

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

  14. 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.

  15. 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!

    • kimbacaffeinate

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

      • Kristen

        I’ll definitely add it to my list! It’s crazy – every since I started follow more book blogs, I’ve begun to realize just how many books are out there. My list just keeps growing!

        • kimbacaffeinate

          *nods head and eyes tbr pile and massive wishlist*

  16. Felicia S. (

    I love when a book is set somewhere that I have never heard of 🙂 It means I get to learn a little more about new places. Always makes me want to travel!

    • kimbacaffeinate

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

  17. kindlemom1

    I have to admit, I know very little about South Africa. This sounds like it was a great read! Wonderful review Kim!!

    • kimbacaffeinate

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

  18. Jenea

    I haven’t seen this one before, but it sounds like one that I would get into. Thanks for sharing it, great review.

    • kimbacaffeinate

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

  19. 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:)

  20. 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.

  21. Tanja

    This sounds really interesting. I mean Zululand, I want to read it just because of that name. This sounds like a book with the interesting story and characters and with enough dose of mystery and history. Great review Kim 🙂

    • kimbacaffeinate

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

  22. Silvia

    I’ve never heard of this before but it definitely sounds fascinating! Great review, Kimberly 🙂

  23. kara-karina

    She is a fab author, right? I’ve got this on my kindle but haven’t read it yet :)) I know, I know… most of the things that aren’t for review end up on the back burner. Will be picking it up soon, great review, K.!

    • kimbacaffeinate

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