Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Vienna Dolorosa by Mykola Dementiuk

Reviewed by P.A. Brown

This book is not for the faint at heart. It was very hard to read and only the complex characters made me read through to the bitter unsavory end. Taking place in Vienna on the day the Nazis occupy the city this book deals with many ugly characters, dealing with an ugly world, and not very well.

There are no likable characters in this book, the closest thing to a sympathetic person is the hotel proprietor, a transvestite who runs a hidden brothel in her hotel that caters to homosexuals. And in Nazi Germany and Austria homosexuality carries some serious repercussions, including death. In fact one of the characters meets what has to be one of the grisliest deaths I think I've ever read in a fiction book.

Years ago I developed a fascination with Nazi Germany and Adolf Hitler. I slogged through The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. It was like a really bad train wreck, I had to stare. I wanted to find out what made this kind of insanity possible. Not only what drove Hitler in his madness, but what allowed the average German to go along with it and release their own monster. This book does no more to answer that than any other book I've read. I've since come to the conclusion that it's just something dark in all humans. Same thing occurs with serial killers and child abusers. These days I write about my own dark characters and try to capture the essence of those people.

Mykola Dementiuk does a creditable job of peeling away the layers of these monsters and showing their normalcy. If you have a weak stomach, do not read this book. If you sicken easily don't read this book. But if you want to delve into the dark heart of people who have chosen a path that nearly led the world to the brink and resulted in the death of millions of people whose only crime was being 'different' then by all means read Vienna Dolorasa. You won't easily forget it.

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