The Diamond Eye: Book Review

Like most fans of historical fiction, I'm a huge fan of Kate Quinn books. She has a knack for creating unforgettable female heroines that stick with you long after The End. And Mila in The Diamond Eye is no exception. Based on a real female sniper in the Red Army during WWII, The Diamond Eye is a fast-paced historical novel that you won't want to put down.

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Quick Look

  • WWII Historical Fiction
  • Fast-paced & binge-worthy
  • Single Point of View
  • Memoir-style flashbacks
  • Deadly female solider
  • Based on a real person

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

Publisher's Synopsis

In 1937 in the snowbound city of Kyiv, wry and bookish history student Mila Pavlichenko organizes her life around her library job and her young son--but Hitler's invasion of Ukraine and Russia sends her on a different path. Given a rifle and sent to join the fight, Mila must forge herself from studious girl to deadly sniper--a lethal hunter of Nazis known as Lady Death. When news of her three hundredth kill makes her a national heroine, Mila finds herself torn from the bloody battlefields of the eastern front and sent to America on a goodwill tour.

Still reeling from war wounds and devastated by loss, Mila finds herself isolated and lonely in the glittering world of Washington, DC--until an unexpected friendship with First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and an even more unexpected connection with a silent fellow sniper offer the possibility of happiness. But when an old enemy from Mila's past joins forces with a deadly new foe lurking in the shadows, Lady Death finds herself battling her own demons and enemy bullets in the deadliest duel of her life.

Based on a true story, The Diamond Eye is a haunting novel of heroism born of desperation, of a mother who became a soldier, of a woman who found her place in the world and changed the course of history forever.

My Review

Fiction meets real life in Quinn's latest WWII novel. Based on the true story of Lyudmila Pavlichenko, The Diamond Eye is one of Quinn's most tactical novels. I thoroughly enjoyed the battle scenes, but I could see why some might not enjoy the hyper-realistic portrayal of war that Quinn manages to capture. Her writing had me completely immersed in the fight right alongside Mila. The intensity of the battle scenes made this book un-put-downable for me.

Mila is a truly unforgettable female main character. Her strength and endurance, combined with her sniper skills, had me marveling throughout the novel. The struggles she faced as a female soldier in the Red Army were admirable, particularly because of her front-line duty.

One of the best parts of The Diamond Eye is the romance. There's something special about wartime love, and Quinn captures the desperate need for connection in the chaos. The closed-door romance showed a vulnerable side of the deadly Mila, adding complexity to her character. Later, her advocacy and steadfast determination to raise awareness of the plight of the Soviet army on the Eastern front gave made her even more admirable.

Unfortunately, the battle ended for Mila toward the end of the book which is when I lost a bit of interest. The last battle of Mila's career seemed overwrought and distracted from the otherwise terrific novel. The ending is my least favorite of Quinn's novels; it's highly dramatic but a little too far-fetched for my liking. Quinn, as usual, can spin a yarn, so it's still a really great book that I highly recommend reading.

My Rating

Kate Quinn's writing style could make just about anything interesting, and she sticks with her tried and true formula in this page-turner. Despite the unrealistic twist in the end, The Diamond Eye is a terrific novel from one of the greatest historical fiction authors.

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About Carlie

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