I enjoyed this book. It wasn’t a “stay up all night because you can’t stop reading it” book, but I did have fun reading it and it did go by pretty quickly. I didn’t know anything about the historical Amber Room until I started reading this, either. Maybe that’s why I only “liked” it instead of “really liked” it. I had to stop and wonder if what Berry was telling me were the historical facts or the fictional historical facts.
Berry reads a lot like Dan Brown novels. The chapters are on the short side and the pacing is very fast. There’s a love interest, a mystery, and a revelation at the end. That’s pretty much the standard formula for suspense thrillers like this. Berry doesn’t seem to have as much of an ego as Brown, though. I find this refreshing. Do you know what I mean? Dan Brown has this way of writing like he’s the king of the universe with the BEST and most controversial ideas. Sometimes it’s a little daunting. Yet, Berry is a very natural writer whose ego never comes through (at least not yet, anyway. It is his first book).
The story itself seems a bit contrived in places, especially with regard to the love story between Rachel and her ex-husband. It comes across as too simple and too fabricated. But, I think this a genre convention. Plot devices drive these novels.
Here’s what I did like: the research. Berry is meticulous with his research. Other than what happened to the Amber Room, I’m fairly certain the other details of the time period and the history behind the room are correct. He even distinguishes between fact and fiction at the end of the novel in an author’s afterward. I do wish I had known about that before I started reading. It would have saved me a lot of time asking my husband if the facts were true. Alas. I also like the characters. They were interesting and didn’t feel fake. I got emotionally involved with this, which is a mark of a good read, to me.
Overall, this is a good read. If you love historical thrillers like Dan Brown’s novels, then chances are you’ll like this book, too.