Name: His Majesty’s Hope
Author: Susan Elia MacNeal
Genre: Crime, Historical, Suspense, Fiction
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I picked up this beauty from the library a few days ago and I didn’t realize until I was nearly finished that it’s actually the third in the series. The author did such an awesome job explaining the main character’s background while simultaneously glossing over it that I really had no idea.
As you can tell from the cover, His Majesty’s Hope is set during WWII. It offers an interesting perspective from multiple characters–a British spy tasked with infiltrating the Nazi hierarchy, a German nurse whose mother is attending plays with Joseph Goebbels, and the brainwashed minds of Hitler’s followers.
Maggie Hope, the protagonist, is the first female spy ever to cross Germany’s borders. Her orders are simple, but the horrors that await her are too much for her to handle. She sees an excellent opportunity to gather more intelligence and takes it, breaking protocol and threatening the lives of the people who shelter her in their homes.
Unbeknownst to her, Operation Compassionate Death is in full-swing. Children considered to be weak (i.e. mentally challenged, blind, epileptic, etc) are being thrown into gas chambers under the guise of being sent to another, better equipped hospital. Their grieving parents are sent a letter…
“Oh, there’s one letter describing an illness–usually pneumonia. Or appendicitis. And the bodies are cremated, of course. Then the death certificate comes with a nice urn.”
As if to plunge the knife further into their backs, that “nice urn” is black, with a red swastika on the side. And the ashes inside may belong to any number of children…
This operation is the focal point that ties all the characters together. They begin as separate fighters, but eventually come together as one resistance force.
There are no happy endings and there’s a pretty strong chance you might tear up a bit at some points, but I definitely think it’s worth the read. Of course, it’s not 100% historically accurate, but the general emotion and struggle is very real.
I wish the author had taken the time to better explain some things and there were a few plot holes that left me confused, but it was still a powerful book.
Maggie Hope is a bit naive and childish, but there’s no mistaking that she’s a damn-good spy. As a person, though, I didn’t particularly like her. She took too many chances and put many people in danger, although her mission was mostly a success at the end. She ignored people’s advice (people who had much more experience) and she hadn’t prepared herself mentally for what atrocities she would ultimately witness. As a spy, she should have known better.