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Katarina's Dark Shadow

Katarina's Dark Shadow

Book One: Russian Mennonite Chronicles


MJ Krause-Chivers


Historical, Fiction, Women, Religious, Psychological, Suspense, Dark

Publish Date

September 4, 2021

Short Description

A coming-of-age story during the Russian Revolution and WW1. Katarina yearns to leave the Land of the Mennonites and become a missionary school teacher. But after a devastating accident her life is forever altered. As her awareness of the Russian crisis in Ukraine grows, she senses that there is more trouble brewing within the German colonies. Emigration looms and Katarina must make a decision. But Anna is pregnant and the men are serving in the war. What will she do?

In the parallel story, In 1951 post-war Germany Peter finds his mother's diaries and begins to transcribe them and learns about her time as a woman alone in war-time.

This book is a prequel for the series Russian Mennonite Chronicles.


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The Winner

Book's Awards


FIRST CAME THE HORSES. Then came the fires. Then, they came for us.


Katarina discovers that faith is more than a badge and a belief system. During war-time, it requires resilience.

1915-1917 Ukraine territory, Russia. WW1. As the spoiled youngest daughter in a family of five women, Katarina whines about the shortage of rare goods in southern Ukraine. But otherwise, she pays little attention to the Great War until she’s injured during a rebel attack on the family farm during her sister’s wedding. When her dreams of leaving the Land of the Mennonites are upended, she turns her attention to the Russian crisis.

During the early days of conscription, the men obey the military call through alternative service and the women are left to fend for themselves. Although some hold to tradition and refuse to admit the truth about the changing political climate, Katarina seeks meaning and new direction. A job with a lonely, old newspaper man provides the support and mentorship she needs. But at the same time, this opens her eyes to the terror of war.

When the country’s dissatisfaction with the federal government’s management of the war effort spills into the countryside, regional conflict grows. The poor rise up against the rich and Katarina’s wealthy German-speaking Mennonite family find themselves in harm’s way. A mysterious Russian servant seems to hold the key to their survival.

Within the peaceful German communities, conscription encourages hasty decisions by irrational leaders and some succumb to the pressure to leave Russia. Although emigration is an option, Katarina feels committed to protect her sister Anna who is in fragile health and without her husband.

As the solid foundations of faith and family are threatened, Katarina’s world unravels. She faces the ultimate decision that will determine her future. Will she depend on her passive faith to fight the forthcoming evil? Or will she abandon all hope and flee with the others?

1951: During WW2, Katarina returns to Ukraine with the German Army and disappears. When her son, Peter, stumbles on her diaries from the Russian Revolution, he begins to wonder if she’s still alive. What secrets lie behind the Iron Curtain? What happened during those early years that prompted her to go back?

Set during the darkest days of Ukraine’s history, Katarina’s Dark Shadow portrays the courageous human struggle inside a distinct faith during violent political times.

Inspired by true stories and actual events based on the harrowing tales of the author's ancestors, this book will particularly interest those with German-Prussian, Ukrainian, or Russian Mennonite ancestry.

If you enjoyed Tears of Amber and The Girl with the Silver Star, you’ll enjoy stepping into this intriguing and unusual world with its unique cultural dynamics. Witness the Russian revolution from an entirely different perspective.

***** “A chillingly realistic, yet fictional account of what happened to ordinary people in Russian Ukraine when their world was overthrown by social unrest, war, and then a revolution. I couldn’t put it down.” *****Author P.C. James.

***** “A gripping historical fiction and true to its time. Highly recommended for those interested in a different viewpoint from WWI.” ***** Author Nola Li Barr.

If you like intrigue, complex characters, and strong women of faith, you'll enjoy this spine-chilling Christian historical fiction series.

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MJ Krause-Chivers

MJ Krause-Chivers


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