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This Rebel Heart

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A tale set amid the 1956 Hungarian revolution in post-WWII Communist Budapest. In the middle of Budapest, there is a river. Csilla knows the river is magic. During WWII, the river kept her family safe when they needed it most--safe from the Holocaust. But that was before the Communists seized power. Before her parents were murdered by the Soviet police. Before Csilla knew t A tale set amid the 1956 Hungarian revolution in post-WWII Communist Budapest. In the middle of Budapest, there is a river. Csilla knows the river is magic. During WWII, the river kept her family safe when they needed it most--safe from the Holocaust. But that was before the Communists seized power. Before her parents were murdered by the Soviet police. Before Csilla knew things about her father's legacy that she wishes she could forget. Now Csilla keeps her head down, planning her escape from this country that has never loved her the way she loves it. But her carefully laid plans fall to pieces when her parents are unexpectedly, publicly exonerated. As the protests in other countries spur talk of a larger revolution in Hungary, Csilla must decide if she believes in the promise and magic of her deeply flawed country enough to risk her life to help save it, or if she should let it burn to the ground.


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A tale set amid the 1956 Hungarian revolution in post-WWII Communist Budapest. In the middle of Budapest, there is a river. Csilla knows the river is magic. During WWII, the river kept her family safe when they needed it most--safe from the Holocaust. But that was before the Communists seized power. Before her parents were murdered by the Soviet police. Before Csilla knew t A tale set amid the 1956 Hungarian revolution in post-WWII Communist Budapest. In the middle of Budapest, there is a river. Csilla knows the river is magic. During WWII, the river kept her family safe when they needed it most--safe from the Holocaust. But that was before the Communists seized power. Before her parents were murdered by the Soviet police. Before Csilla knew things about her father's legacy that she wishes she could forget. Now Csilla keeps her head down, planning her escape from this country that has never loved her the way she loves it. But her carefully laid plans fall to pieces when her parents are unexpectedly, publicly exonerated. As the protests in other countries spur talk of a larger revolution in Hungary, Csilla must decide if she believes in the promise and magic of her deeply flawed country enough to risk her life to help save it, or if she should let it burn to the ground.

30 review for This Rebel Heart

  1. 5 out of 5

    Kalena W

    3/5 stars, this had important history and diversity, but I didn’t know what was going on a lot of the time Thank you Knopf Books for the arc through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review! This book was honestly very hard for me to read, and it's supposed to be a young adult book. It wasn't hard in the sense of the content really, though looking at trigger warnings for that is extremely important, it was just the pacing and the content. There were some redeeming qualities about this book th 3/5 stars, this had important history and diversity, but I didn’t know what was going on a lot of the time Thank you Knopf Books for the arc through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review! This book was honestly very hard for me to read, and it's supposed to be a young adult book. It wasn't hard in the sense of the content really, though looking at trigger warnings for that is extremely important, it was just the pacing and the content. There were some redeeming qualities about this book that make me put it right in the middle of my rating scale, but overall I felt really meh. It wasn't horrible but it also never had me desperately turning to the next page. My favorite part of this book was learning more about the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, as it's something that hasn't been touched on in any of the history classes I have taken. It was the moment when the Hungarians revolted against the Soviet Communists in power, following the Polish people. While the revolution was unsuccessful, it just showed the strength that people can have in the face of adversity and danger. As the author says, the protests were very important for history even if they were unsuccessful at the time. "Whoever can protest and does not is responsible for what happens without the protest" (155) The characters, mainly Csilla, Tamas, and Azriel were the most interesting but only in the last third of the book. Before that, it had felt like nothing really happened, and the pacing was drastically off. I think that a good portion of the book could have been cut out, as the first one-third was really just Csilla going to work and being followed home. One could argue that this time was for the reader to get used to her character and see the growth, but there really wasn't growth either. If there was, it was so small it was barely noticeable, leaving Csilla looking like a flat character. However, the polyamorous romance between Csilla, Tamas, and Azriel was some great representation and totally caught me by surprise. I wasn't expecting it but I was delighted. As for the rest of the story, it was a bit, confusing some of the elements put in. There may be MINOR SPOILERS in this section but totally out of context and not directly stated. The whole river ordeal was strange for the story though, it runs through Budapest naturally but it was magic in this story. It whispers to Csilla, it turns to stone, silver, and more than that and I don't really understand the point. I'm sure there was some symbolism but it was so muddled I couldn't quite grasp what was trying to be said. There was also an angel of death and a thing from Jewish folklore and I just don't understand. I know this was magical realism but I don't see anything that it really brought to the story, as even in the last third of the book so many things felt glanced over. The ending is just as open-ended as the whole story, which is both good and bad in my opinion. It allows the reader to form their own thoughts on what could have happened, both positively and negatively. But with the whole story sort of being, not well put together in a sense, it left me really disappointed. In a way it was good, but I wanted something more concrete to really wrap up this story that seemed too broad. [TW: antisemitism, war themes, guns and shootings, stalking, loss of loved ones, trauma and PTSD depiction, oppression, mobs, physical beatings]

  2. 4 out of 5

    Dahlia

    Well, that was absolutely gorgeous and devastating and so full of perfect lines I could combust just thinking about it. So, pretty good.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Kate Welsh

    This was just STUNNING. Even as someone interested in history, I'd never come across much about twentieth century Hungary before and this was a fascinating look at the 1956 Revolution and how memories of WWII affected people's feelings during the Cold War in ways I hadn't necessarily thought about before. It's fully of great, complicated characters - Csilla is definitely a new favorite YA heroine for me - and gorgeous, lyrical writing. I loved the way Csilla's magic was rooted in her Judaism and This was just STUNNING. Even as someone interested in history, I'd never come across much about twentieth century Hungary before and this was a fascinating look at the 1956 Revolution and how memories of WWII affected people's feelings during the Cold War in ways I hadn't necessarily thought about before. It's fully of great, complicated characters - Csilla is definitely a new favorite YA heroine for me - and gorgeous, lyrical writing. I loved the way Csilla's magic was rooted in her Judaism and her complicated feelings about the city and country she was trying to save. Also great LGBTQ+ rep of various kinds across the characters and I adored the central relationship. Highly highly recommended!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Megan Rose

    Initially, two things attracted me to This Rebel Heart: that gorgeous cover, and the fact that it was set in a part of history I'd read little about. I've read so many historical fiction novels regarding World War II and the Holocaust, but never any about the aftermath of the war, or any of Hungary's struggles. Because of this, there were a few times I became confused about the sequences of events, but it inspired me to do my own research about the time period, and I hope to read it again one da Initially, two things attracted me to This Rebel Heart: that gorgeous cover, and the fact that it was set in a part of history I'd read little about. I've read so many historical fiction novels regarding World War II and the Holocaust, but never any about the aftermath of the war, or any of Hungary's struggles. Because of this, there were a few times I became confused about the sequences of events, but it inspired me to do my own research about the time period, and I hope to read it again one day with new knowledge. This was a beautiful and heartbreaking read. The world in This Rebel Heart is completely devoid of color. There are so many metaphors and symbolism this choice provides, and it added an interesting and unique look to the world. It helped tell the narrative of the time period and the struggles of Hungary and its people. This choice was so smart, and I cannot praise it enough. There's so much I could say about this plot point, but I don't want to go into too much detail in fear of spoiling. Something interesting about This Rebel Heart was a lot of the events that took place were either historically accurate or heavily based on real life events; however, it also incorporated magical realism. The main character, Csilla, was heavily connected to the magic showcased in the book, as well as with the angel of death Azriel, who's a big part of the plot. Magical realism is usually hit or miss for me, but for this one, I'm happy to say it was a hit! The incorporation of the river’s magic added even more layers and depth to an otherwise already intricate and detailed plot. And even though without the incorporation of this, it still would have been effective, the magical undertones really brought home the point of the story. Csilla, Azriel, and Tamás, the three main characters, are very compelling and so interesting to read about. Even though the three of them are brought together through tragedy and political unrest, you can't help but root for them and wish for a happy ending, even if it seems impossible. Their dynamic was so endearing and sweet. At first, I thought it was going to be a love triangle, which I was upset about, because I am not a fan of that trope. However, I was pleasantly surprised when the three of them came together romantically! It made perfect sense for them, even in the time period they lived in. They were all drawn to each other, connected by fate, and so it made sense that they all fell in love with each other. I do, however, wish we'd gotten Tamás's point of view. I know most of the chapters were written in Csilla's perspective with only a few sections from Azriel here and there, but I would've loved to personally experience Tamás's thoughts and motivations, especially surrounding Csilla and Azriel. There are so many wonderful plot lines and character arcs in This Rebel Heart, but one of my favorite parts of the story is how much of a slow burn it is. It would've been so easy to make this a non-stop action book, depicting different parts of the war, but the use of strong emotions and the development of the people's will slowly building was so much more effective. We got to know these characters intimately and see how the state of the world was affecting their lives. We watched as their resolve crumbled, then built itself back up again, until they could no longer be complacent and had to push back in whatever way they could. This Rebel Heart is such a powerful and beautiful novel, and I truly treasured my time with it. This is one I read at a slower pace, because I really wanted time to digest everything and think about it as I read. Ultimately, I feel that made my enjoyment even more palpable. I'm so glad I read this one, and I can't recommend it enough! Thank you to TBR and Beyond Tours, NetGalley, and the publisher for providing me with a digital ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Brianna

    Thank you so much to Knopf and GetUnderlined for sending me a finished copy in exchange for an honest review! My family is not only Jewish, but from Hungary, and though they left Hungary long before this book takes place, I still felt like I was making my ancestors proud by reading a book about the shared history and trauma of Hungarian Jews. What a beautiful use of magical realism. For those who do not know, magical realism isn’t just low fantasy, but is actually the use of fantastical elements t Thank you so much to Knopf and GetUnderlined for sending me a finished copy in exchange for an honest review! My family is not only Jewish, but from Hungary, and though they left Hungary long before this book takes place, I still felt like I was making my ancestors proud by reading a book about the shared history and trauma of Hungarian Jews. What a beautiful use of magical realism. For those who do not know, magical realism isn’t just low fantasy, but is actually the use of fantastical elements to discuss oppressive systems, most often used in Latine and Jewish literature. here’s a fantastic article on the subject: http://www.diversityinya.com/2015/09/... And this book uses its magic to link stories across time. It’s used to discuss the idea of the importance of retelling stories, and it’s used to emulate the beating heart of hope and survival that has permeated Jewish cultures and communities across the world and throughout history. To be honest with you, I usually don’t read Jewish historical fiction set around the Holocaust because it’s just so very heavy and often really hinges itself on trauma. But the lens of this book was one of love and hope and revolution. The main character, Csilla, was the perfect narrative window - a girl born with the river in her veins and a rebel heart. The love interests Támas and Azriel were so well balanced, Támas as a grounding force towards a new Hungarian future and Azriel as a mythical connection to her storied past and heritage. Any one of the incredible elements in this book would’ve been enough to make me love it: a magical Jewish MC, a balanced and heartwarming polyamorous relationship, a golem, a world long without color slowly turning rainbow with hope, a Jewish angel LI, and so on, but I’m so grateful we got to have all of them. Dayenu. This is a story the world needs and one I hope I find myself returning to, for my own enjoyment and for the sake of my own history. CW/TW: parental death (past), grief, antisemitism, war, holocaust discussion, child death, suicide (mention), homophobia, violence, death, torture (mention), sexual harassment, gun violence

  6. 4 out of 5

    A.J.

    I received an ARC of this title in exchange for an honest review. This book was everything I hoped for in a story that promised a historical fantasy narrative centering queer and Jewish characters. Set in 1956 Hungary during the short-lived (and ultimately failed) Hungarian Revolution against the Soviets, it follows teenage Csilla, a Jew and Holocaust survivor who lives with her aunt Ilona, her only extended relative to have survived the camps. Csilla is grappling with the recent exoneration of h I received an ARC of this title in exchange for an honest review. This book was everything I hoped for in a story that promised a historical fantasy narrative centering queer and Jewish characters. Set in 1956 Hungary during the short-lived (and ultimately failed) Hungarian Revolution against the Soviets, it follows teenage Csilla, a Jew and Holocaust survivor who lives with her aunt Ilona, her only extended relative to have survived the camps. Csilla is grappling with the recent exoneration of her parents who were executed under false pretenses a few years earlier. She and her aunt are secretly planning to defect Hungary to Israel. While Csilla loves her country, she feels like it's never loved her back and she's ready to leave it all behind for a new life somewhere she and her aunt will be wanted and welcomed. Yet a seemingly chance encounter with a mysterious figure who is oddly familiar to Csilla and a run-in with a university student who needs Csilla's help to get answers of his own launch Csilla on a journey that she may not have anticipated but ultimately begins to feel is inevitable, like something she was always meant to take. This story is a dual narrative between Csilla and an angel of death, interspersed with media like Csilla's father's journal entries from the 1930s to the early 1950s, contemporaneous newspaper snippets, and more. But largely, the story is Csilla's and her actions drive the plot in beautiful, twisting ways to its heart-wrenching conclusion. While this story is based on true historical events, it's also infused with fantasy elements. The Danube River "speaks" to Csilla; it kept her and her family safe during the Shoah. There are also scenes that relate to creating a golem. This story is thoroughly Jewish in the best possible way and feels very relevant to current events, despite having taken place almost 70 years ago. An author's note at the beginning of the ARC stresses the importance of taking action in the face of injustice, that immediate failure can still have an impact that ripples into the future. It sets the tone of the story and is worth revisiting once you've finished reading. Ultimately, this book is a must-read for fans of historical fiction, historical fantasy, Jewish history, and anything involving queer characters. Consider pre-ordering so you have it the moment it releases later this spring.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Kemora

    This book was beautifully written and epic. There was such lovely imagery and I didn’t realize that a new author would be this darn good. Please give this a chance people. Special thanks to the author and the publisher for this arc all opinions are my own.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Mic

    I AM AGGRESSIVELY EXCITED ABOUT THIS EVEN THOUGH IT WILL PROBABLY MAKE ME CRY

  9. 5 out of 5

    Ellie J.

    5/5 stars Recommended to people who like: revolution, historical fiction, fantasy, magical realism, multiple POVs, rebellion, LBTQ+ characters Big thanks to Netgalley, Random House, and Katherine Locke for an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review! They accepted all the truths and all the lies and weighed them equally against each other. But some lies outweighed some truths. Some lies were so egregious that refusing to acknowledge them was akin to committing the crime over and over again 5/5 stars Recommended to people who like: revolution, historical fiction, fantasy, magical realism, multiple POVs, rebellion, LBTQ+ characters Big thanks to Netgalley, Random House, and Katherine Locke for an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review! They accepted all the truths and all the lies and weighed them equally against each other. But some lies outweighed some truths. Some lies were so egregious that refusing to acknowledge them was akin to committing the crime over and over again, every day. This might actually be my favorite book of the year. It has revolution and change and social justice all wrapped up in a nice historical fantasy/magical realism bow with LGBTQ+ characters (yes, multiple) and set in a country that often doesn't get attention, particularly in YA fiction. Locke says so many good things about change and revolution in this book and I love it. This book is set in Cold War Hungary, which has, like so many other European countries, not dealt with its role in WWII and the Holocaust. It's a haunting story to be telling, and so familiar to ones that come out of countries that are perhaps more familiar to people, like Poland and East Germany, but it is unique as well. I liked learning Hungary through Csilla's eyes, both its sins and its beauties. The AVH, or the secret police, has been tearing families apart and has played the active role of suppressing freedom of expression. Yet at the same time there is still this place where a revolution is possible. Where it was possible. Locke wrote the city well, I think, and that powder keg is a palpable undercurrent throughout the book, at times more obvious than others. I also thought the metaphors and motifs Locke included were poignant. Truth vs. lies is a major part of the book. The Nazis utilized propaganda, the Soviets lie again and again, and everyone living under the fear of the AVH lies daily to protect themselves and to gloss over the things that happened. Because it's easier, because they're afraid, because it's what works. I like that we as readers get to work out with Csilla what the truth, or rather, truths, is. Another powerful metaphor running through the book is personal choice. People choose each day how they react to things, and sometimes that choice does include keeping your head down to keep yourself safe, and sometimes that means deciding to stand up because doing nothing hasn't gotten anyone anywhere. Csilla 100% starts out as a character who does nothing to protect herself and her aunt, and sometimes this means staying quiet, but she's also forced to reckon with this choice in the book and whether that's the choice she wants to be making when it means condemning others. The way Locke deals with the Holocaust is important as well. I think in general there's this glossing over of what happened after. After the Allies won. After the concentration camps were liberated. After the Nazi officials were round up. The fact of the matter is, most Nazis were left free without reprimand or punishment. The people who informed on their neighbors or who guarded the ghettoes went on with their lives as if nothing had happened. In Eastern Europe, a lot of concentration camp guards and Nazi officials worked with the secret police in their respective countries. This book acknowledges that and really grapples with what that means for a country and for people personally. The colorless city was a nice touch too. This is a bit where the magical realism comes into play, since I hadn't really thought Locke meant it literally when she said Budapest had turned gray. But, no, the city and its people have literally been painted in monochrome, with no color peeking through. Does it come from people's passivity or from the active acceptance of violence against others? That question isn't really answered in the book, but I can see it going either way, or both ways. I like that this was sort of left up for interpretation. They were all important, the people who were disappeared and taken. They were all important to someone. For the characters themselves, Csilla is definitely the main character. She gets the most POV chapters and most of the story centers around her and her story. Csilla survived the Holocaust, largely thanks to the Danube, which she and her parents jumped into when they were being deported. When the rubble settled, it was just the three of them and her aunt left. At the start of the story, her parents have been dead for four years and it is down to just two. Suffice to say, the crimes of the city have shaped Csilla into the person she is. Someone who is careful and keeps her head down, giving her party lines (literally) and doing her best not to attract more notice than necessary. Csilla essentially becomes another person over the course of this book. She becomes louder and more sure of herself, decides to fight for what she thinks is right and not just for survival. She comes into herself in other ways, too, not just with the revolution, but also with her parents and the legacy her father has left behind. Csilla's story, both past and present, directly ties into the major metaphors of this book, and it's interesting to see how she decides to tackle them. I, for one, very much love revolutionary!Csilla. Azriel is the other main POV character, though there are a couple others sprinkled in in some places. Azriel is a bit of a mysterious character at first, though it's fairly easy to figure out why, to the point where I'm not sure if it's a spoiler or not, but I won't mention it in case it is. Azriel carries such a heavy burden, but he's also invested in what happens. He has a big heart for those around him and doesn't like to see suffering, though like Csilla, he's also seen plenty of it. His transformation in the book is less intense and involves preparing for what seems like the inevitable while also accepting that there are points where things can change depending on human action. Also, for those wondering where the LBGTQ+ comes in, Azriel is genderfluid or genderqueer, among other things. Tamas is the final main character, though he doesn't get a POV, likely because he's often with Csilla and Azriel anyway and also likely because he can't be used to tell the same sorts of stories they can. Tamas is, in part, what kicks off this whole revolution and triggers Csilla's need to decide whether to continue on the road she's on or change course. He becomes somewhat of the face and leader of the revolution, being one of the first students to decide to stand up against the Soviets and the regime of terror. Tamas grows over the course of the book from someone who's wary of catching the AVH's eye, even for someone he cares about, to being someone equally happy being diplomatic as he is holding a gun and fighting for his freedoms. Csilla, Azriel, and Tamas are in a polyamorous relationship, which starts right around the time the revolution begins. Considering the Hungarian Revolution/Uprising began Oct. 23rd and lasted until the beginning of November, the three have really only known each other for maybe three weeks, possibly a month, by the end of the book. While the numbers read like it's instalove, and there is certainly that connection between the three of them from the start, with the intensity of everything that happens in the book and the way war and shared trauma can bond people, it doesn't read or feel like instalove. Csilla, Azriel, and Tamas genuinely read like they care about and want to be with one another, no matter what comes. I'm really glad that Locke went with that triad since it's very clear on-page that there's romantic possibilities between the three main characters and so many authors just brush off what could be a perfectly good polyamorous relationship for a love triangle instead. Aside from our three main characters, there is also Ilona, Csilla's aunt who survived the war. I liked Ilona for a couple of reasons. For one, she so clearly cares about Csilla. She's willing to do things that she might not otherwise want to do if it weren't for her, and her love also comes through in her worry for Csilla. I also like Ilona because she has some very clear markers of trauma that I liked that Locke explored. With Ilona there is no, 'oh it's over and I'm all good now and ignoring what happened,' instead it's 'that happened and it sucked and I will probably never collect the pieces of myself.' There is also Zsu, Csilla's friend from her job. Zsu actually came across as pretty annoying to me at first and I kind of preferred their other friend, Aliz, but over the course of the book Zsu grows alongside Csilla and I ended up really liking the person she became. She showed a lot of grit and leadership in the book, and I liked that along with her ingenuity. Marton is the final major side-character, and he also works with Csilla (are you catching a theme here?). He's a character that grows into the story as events unfold, though he is present from the beginning. Marton ends up having some interesting depths to him and I think his character, too, plays into the metaphors of lies and truths and history. No one is held responsible. Not for that, not for the crimes that have come after. When are we going to talk about what happened? When are we going to deal in truth and not lies? When will people be held responsible for their choices? The ending to the book is left open, able to be interpreted in whichever way the reader desires. If you read textually, or if you know the history behind the revolution, then the ending is perhaps obvious. But the fact of the matter is, Locke did create the possibility for more than one ending. I want to believe the positive one, even if the realist in me is pulling me the other way. There is so much hope and so much love, and I think the open ending is really the only way the book could have ended.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Hot Mess Sommelière ~ Caro

    The cover: hi I'm generic dystopian YA The synopsis: girls loving girls in Soviet Hungary Me: O.O OMG The cover: hi I'm generic dystopian YA The synopsis: girls loving girls in Soviet Hungary Me: O.O OMG

  11. 5 out of 5

    Alaina

    I have received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This Rebel Heart was a very interesting read. From the very beginning, I was completely hooked with the characters and the overall story. In it, you will meet Csilla. She is a young Jewish woman living in Hungary during the revolution of 1956. Due to her parents' untimely death, they were executed by the government, she sets off on a unique path with the angel of death by her side. Now I won't lie. There were some parts of t I have received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This Rebel Heart was a very interesting read. From the very beginning, I was completely hooked with the characters and the overall story. In it, you will meet Csilla. She is a young Jewish woman living in Hungary during the revolution of 1956. Due to her parents' untimely death, they were executed by the government, she sets off on a unique path with the angel of death by her side. Now I won't lie. There were some parts of this book that broke my heart and others that gave me joy. The characters and what they go through was definitely a page turner for me. I seriously enjoyed meeting each and every one of them. Then there's the journey that they went on and it was definitely emotional and magical. Even if I was confused as to why certain things did happen throughout it. In the end, I definitely enjoyed the heck out of this. I feel like I learned something new and fell in love with the representation of the characters. The ending also made me an emotional mess but in a good way. I'll definitely be on the lookout for Katherine's next book!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Gabe Novoa

    Wow. This book was breathtaking.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Beary Into Books

    Rating: 4 This is one of those books that as soon as you see the cover you will be instantly intrigued. The cover is absolutely beautiful and looks even better in person. I really enjoyed this YA historical fiction that had some fantasy elements mixed in. If you plan on reading this one be prepared. This one definitely deals with a heavy topic that will make you emotional and might even make you cry. I think the author took inspiration from “The Book Thief” because the story along with the writin Rating: 4 This is one of those books that as soon as you see the cover you will be instantly intrigued. The cover is absolutely beautiful and looks even better in person. I really enjoyed this YA historical fiction that had some fantasy elements mixed in. If you plan on reading this one be prepared. This one definitely deals with a heavy topic that will make you emotional and might even make you cry. I think the author took inspiration from “The Book Thief” because the story along with the writing felt very similar. So if you liked that book then I would definitely recommend this book! One thing that really stood out to me about this book was the writing. It was so beautifully written and had such a nice flow to it. The reader can literally feel the emotion. Don’t even get me started on the characters. They were so well written and they all became so important to me. Each character grew and showed their strength in their own way. I didn’t agree with certain actions/events that occurred in the book but that's just me looking for something. I also loved how diverse this book was! I had no idea it was LGBTQ until I read it and was pleasantly surprised. I definitely think they should market that more. Overall, I would really recommend this book especially to teens. I think they could definitely benefit from reading this one. Thank you so much @getunderlined & @penguinrandomhouse for the #gifted copy, #partner , #GetUnderlinedPartner

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kemora

    This book was beautifully written and epic. There was such lovely imagery and I didn’t realize that a new author would be this darn good. Please give this a chance people

  15. 4 out of 5

    Anniek

    I've read all of Katherine Locke's books so far, and I think this is their best one yet. This book absolutely swept me away, it was so stunning. The writing was thoroughly beautiful, and I'm going to have to reread this for sure. I can't speak for the Jewish representation, but I can recognize how history, trauma, religion and mythology were seeped into every letter of the story, and it left me really touched. This is a story of deep grief, but also one of deep hope. I've read all of Katherine Locke's books so far, and I think this is their best one yet. This book absolutely swept me away, it was so stunning. The writing was thoroughly beautiful, and I'm going to have to reread this for sure. I can't speak for the Jewish representation, but I can recognize how history, trauma, religion and mythology were seeped into every letter of the story, and it left me really touched. This is a story of deep grief, but also one of deep hope.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Casey

    holy shit my feelings there are not enough stars for this book and it is going to haunt me for the rest of my life. 10/10 would recommend having it seared into your soul.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Kahlia

    Rather slow to start but the last third was excellent; melancholy but also hopeful. The historical details and general messiness of the Hungarian Revolution is well-realised, and I liked the acknowledgment that queer people existed in this period. My main criticism is that I’m not sure the magical realism elements warranted their inclusion in this story. As metaphors they didn’t really add anything that we couldn’t get from the story itself, and as plot devices they weren’t as neatly integrated Rather slow to start but the last third was excellent; melancholy but also hopeful. The historical details and general messiness of the Hungarian Revolution is well-realised, and I liked the acknowledgment that queer people existed in this period. My main criticism is that I’m not sure the magical realism elements warranted their inclusion in this story. As metaphors they didn’t really add anything that we couldn’t get from the story itself, and as plot devices they weren’t as neatly integrated as they could be (it took me way too long to realise that the whole city had been leached of colour and that ‘grey’ wasn’t just a reference to Soviet architecture).

  18. 4 out of 5

    Aria ・❥・Biblioaria ˚ · .

    this cover tho! it looks so good.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Chloe

    *Spoiler free* I've been looking forward to Katherine's next YA since it was announced! They are one of my favorite authors, and I was siked to see what their next historical fiction would bring. And a story about a magic river, an angel of death, and a city that is deeply flawed, with a girl struggling to figure out if it is worth fighting for. I wasn't sure about this book for awhile, and I think that is part of the beauty of it. It's very, very steadfast in what it is. Bleak, gut-wrenching, and *Spoiler free* I've been looking forward to Katherine's next YA since it was announced! They are one of my favorite authors, and I was siked to see what their next historical fiction would bring. And a story about a magic river, an angel of death, and a city that is deeply flawed, with a girl struggling to figure out if it is worth fighting for. I wasn't sure about this book for awhile, and I think that is part of the beauty of it. It's very, very steadfast in what it is. Bleak, gut-wrenching, and something that settles heavily. It places exactly what it is and doesn't try to make anything else out of it. This made me unsure of how I was going to like where it went, where ever it went. But, I ended up really, really liking. First off, the writing just oozes pure talent. It feels like the steel gray of an overcast sky, and it lends it so well to exactly what this book is trying to do. It's a book that is a slow burn, one that seems to come from coals and they begin to heat and heat and heat. It's done so, so well. One of the biggest things for me were the pockets of love that were tucked into the corners of this book. A lot of it is about heavy things, but there are still instances that made my heart clench because of the love that was infused in them. There is a lot of pain throughout the book, but the little moments were just as important and held just as much weight. The love was still there, even amongst the fighting and the weight of everything else. This book does have magic, but it was a lot more subtle than I thought. But, the way it was done was incredible. It makes it feel like it was just another part of the world, like it was pulled from what actually happens. And the way that the city is colorless, and the way that color regained, oh it was so brilliant. And the magic river, oh gosh, that's another thing that feels like a punch to the chest. I wasn't sure if I was going to end up liking the characters, and I did end up liking them a lot more than I thought I was going to. Csilla is complicated, in what she is trying to figure out, both inside her and in her city. She's trying to find her footing, and that is something quite dangerous. There's this determination in her, the kind that pushes her. I loved her a whole lot. There were side characters I thought wasn't going to like either, but also fell in love with. They were sweeter, and funnier, and a lot more than I expected. This book was also queer! I was not expecting it to be as queer as it was, but I really really loved that it ended up being as queer as it was. This book is also very Jewish. I can't say more than that since I am not Jewish myself, but I felt it was important to note. Overall, I ended up really, really liking this book. It burns in a way that is unexpected, and it is written so spectacularly. It's so, so good.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Mere

    Katherine Locke's This Rebel Heart is a beautiful story about revolution, love, and identity. It is set during the 1956 revolution in Hungary, and it follows Csilla, a young jewish woman whose parents were executed by the government, and Azriel, an angel of death. The revolution begins to unfold around them, and they take part in it. There are so many things that I loved about this story. First, it really hit home for me because it represented me on a truly personal level. I am an Ashkenazi jew. S Katherine Locke's This Rebel Heart is a beautiful story about revolution, love, and identity. It is set during the 1956 revolution in Hungary, and it follows Csilla, a young jewish woman whose parents were executed by the government, and Azriel, an angel of death. The revolution begins to unfold around them, and they take part in it. There are so many things that I loved about this story. First, it really hit home for me because it represented me on a truly personal level. I am an Ashkenazi jew. Some of my family comes from Budapest, where this story is set, and I lost all of my family in Europe to the Holocaust. Csilla's experiences and surroundings really touched me because I felt like I was looking through a window at my ancestors and my past. Furthermore, this book features a lot of queer characters and deals with queerness during this time. As a queer woman, I loved that as well. I would like to note, however, that when this book was marketed as queer to me, I thought it was going to be sapphic. It's not sapphic. There are no WLW characters, but there are other queer characters. Second, the magic in this book is beautiful. It is a more subtle kind of magic, blended with realism. Principally, the river is magic, and the story of its magic continues throughout the story. There are also jewish myths that come to light, which I loved. Third, this book really succeeded in pulling at my emotions. I found myself tearing up quite a bit, and I really cared about the characters, every single one of them. I even cared about the city. It's pretty easy to fall in love with this book. Fourth, the prose is stunning. This book is so well-written and so introspective. Almost every sentence is absolutely beautiful. That being said, I do have a couple of a complaints. I thought the motivations for the characters were a little hard to grasp, so there were times when it was hard to understand why a character was taking a certain action. Furthermore, the role that the characters played in the revolution sometimes did not make sense, which hindered a little bit of my enjoyment. Finally, there were certain scenes that were just glazed over (or literally slept through) that I thought were pretty important for the book and probably should have made it into full writing. Overall, I still really loved this book. It is definitely more historical fiction than fantasy, so if you're a historical fiction reader or are interested in either jewish history or the 1956 revolution in Hungary, I would definitely recommend this book. Furthermore, I loved the way that it involved the queer community, so lovers of queer history should read this book too. And if you like books with beautiful writing, this is one for you. **Thank you, NetGalley and Random House Children's, for providing me with an ARC of this book**

  21. 4 out of 5

    ally

    akshdfksja nooo?? this is illegal the ending T_T this was just so freaking good I really fell in love with Katherine locke's writing as well as her characters like- csilla is sooooo amazing also very much giving ruta sepetys vibes so if you like her books, this, this is the one. what really captured my 'interest' or like idk how to say but I've never heard about this revolution before post world war 2 hungary and it was pretty recent too though I don't read it that often, historical fiction, especially abou akshdfksja nooo?? this is illegal the ending T_T this was just so freaking good I really fell in love with Katherine locke's writing as well as her characters like- csilla is sooooo amazing also very much giving ruta sepetys vibes so if you like her books, this, this is the one. what really captured my 'interest' or like idk how to say but I've never heard about this revolution before post world war 2 hungary and it was pretty recent too though I don't read it that often, historical fiction, especially about wars and stuff, really is one of my favorite things to read the writing was gorgeous and powerful, along with the message the format was also really cool and the magical realism I thought it was very interesting and it engaged me from the very beginning of the book also, it's nice that romance is not a main thing at all and it's really barely there, as in it's not the entire plot ^very refreshing so yeah, I would really reread this a million times

  22. 5 out of 5

    Clay

    Challenging, imperfect, sometimes confusing historical fantasy about the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. Some elements (character, historical) are much stronger than others (fantasy elements) and one of the characters owes a considerable debt to Marcus Zusak's "The Book Thief". Even so, it's quite timely given the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the main characters are well-drawn and sympathetic. Recommend young readers take at least a few minutes to read Wikipedia's entry on The Hungarian Revolut Challenging, imperfect, sometimes confusing historical fantasy about the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. Some elements (character, historical) are much stronger than others (fantasy elements) and one of the characters owes a considerable debt to Marcus Zusak's "The Book Thief". Even so, it's quite timely given the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the main characters are well-drawn and sympathetic. Recommend young readers take at least a few minutes to read Wikipedia's entry on The Hungarian Revolution or similar. Very good audio reader.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Clara

    I was approved for this ARC a while ago, and I'd been putting it off a little bit because I knew it was going to make me cry. I was absolutely correct, and it was so, so worth it. I sobbed non-stop through the last ~10%, and for a good 10 minutes after finishing. But it was so beautiful. I can already tell that I'm going to get so much more out of this when I reread it, though I need to give myself some time to emotionally recover first. I didn't know going into this book that it had fantasy elem I was approved for this ARC a while ago, and I'd been putting it off a little bit because I knew it was going to make me cry. I was absolutely correct, and it was so, so worth it. I sobbed non-stop through the last ~10%, and for a good 10 minutes after finishing. But it was so beautiful. I can already tell that I'm going to get so much more out of this when I reread it, though I need to give myself some time to emotionally recover first. I didn't know going into this book that it had fantasy elements, though now that I look back at the synopsis I see that I completely missed the literal mention of magic. These aspects are as integral to this world as the obviously thoroughly-researched historical context. I loved seeing them unfold. Truly unforgettable. I don't know how else to talk about this book without getting into spoilers, but it's incredible. CW: deaths (including past parental and other family member deaths), Holocaust (discussion and in flashbacks), police brutality, alleged suicide, antisemitism, homophobia, missing persons, violence (including gun violence), injuries I recieved an eARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kristen

    There were elements of the story I liked (particularly some of the beautifully crafted sentences)but ultimately it did not land for me and I walked away mostly confused. If the entire book had been like the last 20%, my rating would have been much higher. Two totally different experiences between the first 80 and the last 20%.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    This Rebel Heart by Katherine Locke is a great historical fiction that takes the reader right into the heart of post-WWII/Cold War Hungary. This is such a unique novel in several different ways. I love delving into the situations, status, and changes within the European countries and territories post-war. There aren’t enough books that take into account that life for those left behind, or trying to return home, will never be the same after the war is “over”. This is especially evident in the ter This Rebel Heart by Katherine Locke is a great historical fiction that takes the reader right into the heart of post-WWII/Cold War Hungary. This is such a unique novel in several different ways. I love delving into the situations, status, and changes within the European countries and territories post-war. There aren’t enough books that take into account that life for those left behind, or trying to return home, will never be the same after the war is “over”. This is especially evident in the territories that are under Soviet rule. Add in the Cold War landscape, and the changes are monumental. This book focusses on Hungary. I am not even sure I have even read a book taking place during the Cold War within this area before. It was fascinating and a breath of fresh air. The author did a great job presenting the instability, unrest, confusion, volatility, and societal changes taking place during this time. Friends, family, neighbors…separated by external police and military forces and also from within due to idealistic, religious, opportunistic, and personal beliefs. Nothing seems to be certain. Nothing seems to be the same. How will it ever settle, and what will that look like when it occurs? I enjoyed following along with the main characters: Csilla, Azriel, Tamas…and the cast of secondary characters as well. Most were well-developed and intricately drawn. Csilla was my personal favorite. Maybe because of her evolution, her personality blossoming, maturing, and the voice she seems to find from within as the book continues. Does she make mistakes? Sure. What young adult doesn’t (or any adult for that matter)? But the growth, the certainty that develops, the firmness of the beliefs, hopes, fears, and ideals that become more evident and clear as the story progresses is fascinating to me. I also enjoyed the multiple-layered prose that is presented. Some of the story isn’t just straightforward narrative. There are some wonderful literary techniques that are used to give the reader room to envision in their own way how things look, feel, and mean. I love the room that is left for the reader to interpret and grow. We as the audience can come away with several different opinions and deductions about the book as we read and finish. I really like it when the author guides the reader gently and allows for interpretation within reason and without taking away from the narrative and the theme of the book. There are so many facets to this novel that I really feel as if I cannot be any more specific without producing spoilers, so I will stop there. I will just say that if you enjoy historical fiction, post-war themes, and coming of age stories with strong characters, then this book is for you. 5/5 stars Thank you NG and Knopf Books for Young Readers/Random House Children’s for this wonderful arc and in return I am submitting my unbiased and voluntary review and opinion. I am posting this review to my GR and Bookbub accounts immediately and will post it to my Amazon, Instagram, and B&N accounts upon publication on 4/5/22.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Other Rachel

    They did it again! In the Hungarian Revolution, Katherine Locke sets the scene where trauma has leeched the city of Budapest of color, the Danube River whispers at night, and the angel of death stalks the quiet streets in search of souls. Csilla, our Jewish protagonist, has survived the Holocaust only to have her parents murdered by the government. When her escape plans fall apart, and other countries feel their rebellions, survival has never felt more difficult. Another excellent historical novel They did it again! In the Hungarian Revolution, Katherine Locke sets the scene where trauma has leeched the city of Budapest of color, the Danube River whispers at night, and the angel of death stalks the quiet streets in search of souls. Csilla, our Jewish protagonist, has survived the Holocaust only to have her parents murdered by the government. When her escape plans fall apart, and other countries feel their rebellions, survival has never felt more difficult. Another excellent historical novel by Locke! Unlike their previous books, The Balloonmakers, This Rebel Heart is drawn more in the ambiguity of the magical realism genre. However, it is just as immersive as their previous books. Details are carefully placed within the narration with mixed media – excerpts from journals, newspaper articles, etc. – showing readers what it's like in such a tense time. There is a definite echo, a Jewish memory that can be felt for many Jewish readers: This is the story of our survival, this is the story of how we died, keep the language of our grandparents quiet, know that your country will never fully accept you. It was hard not to think back to family stories when I read this book. Between reading breaks, I opened up sites about Eastern Europe, Galicia and Romania and tried to trace the worn footsteps my great-grandparents had taken to reach America. It says much about the power of a book that causes you to feel restless. Compliments all around! From the tender romances that felt profound even in the quiet moments to Csilla's growing strength, Locke's writing is like striking a match and seeing what's in the shadows around us. NetGalley provided me with a copy. All opinions are my own.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    This book was exquisite. There are definite magical realism pieces to this, so you will be disappointed if you expect purely historical fiction. But the history is perfect! I knew the general outline of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution going into this, so I am not sure how the book would read to those who don't know that history. The point of view of a Jewish character is important to really grapple with the baggage from World War II. There is wonderful queer representation that is also appropriate This book was exquisite. There are definite magical realism pieces to this, so you will be disappointed if you expect purely historical fiction. But the history is perfect! I knew the general outline of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution going into this, so I am not sure how the book would read to those who don't know that history. The point of view of a Jewish character is important to really grapple with the baggage from World War II. There is wonderful queer representation that is also appropriate to the time period. (Look into 19th century romantic friendships for some background). For those confused by the silver river... that is how a river looks when there is no color, on a grey day. Conceiving a world without color is difficult, but the color and lack thereof are important aspects here. The stone is more difficult to explain without spoilers. The river is one of the main characters here. The plot builds and builds and builds. And then it just ended? My partner wondered if there may be a sequel planned as I was talking about it, and I'm really hoping that may be the case. Although I can see the ending as a full end to the story, it was a bit of a let down. I can see assigning this and having the students finish the story themselves after learning what happens next.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Anne

    Thank you to Netgalley and the publishers for a free ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. From the very start, The Rebel Heart had gorgeous writing and prose, and great characters. I was instantly sucked into the story from the first page, and I felt for Csilla very much. She is a Jewish girl living in 1950s Hungary, behind the Iron Curtain, trying to decide whether it is worth risking her life to escape. I learned a lot about the Hungarian Revolution, which I really enjoyed because Thank you to Netgalley and the publishers for a free ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. From the very start, The Rebel Heart had gorgeous writing and prose, and great characters. I was instantly sucked into the story from the first page, and I felt for Csilla very much. She is a Jewish girl living in 1950s Hungary, behind the Iron Curtain, trying to decide whether it is worth risking her life to escape. I learned a lot about the Hungarian Revolution, which I really enjoyed because I knew nothing about it before reading. Another big plus was the polyamory representation with the trio of Azriel, Tamás, and Csilla. I REALLY wish this aspect of the story had been publicized more and been part of the marketing; if it was, I feel that more people would want to read this book! I really appreciate that it went the route of polyamory instead of the overdone love triangle trope too often seen in YA. The one drawback I felt was the fantastical elements of the colors disappearing from Hungary and the personification of the Danube River. They were interesting, but felt a bit unnecessary to the overall story. I would have preferred if the book was just pure historical fiction without any fantastical elements, OR if the fantasy elements had been an even larger part of the story. As it was, it felt a little unbalanced.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Amanda (MetalPhantasmReads)

    **Netgalley ARC** *DNF @ 25%* Man I feel like a serial DNF reader but sadly this didn't work for me for a couple of reasons. First, the writing style wasn't balanced. Some sentences were great at describing how Csilla is "surviving" in 1956 Hungary or the Danube river. Other sentences were overlong or jarring or had weird word choices. So it was trying too hard or it was more jagged. The way the author kept using "he didn't disappear me" or "he would disappear them" drove me nuts! There was even a **Netgalley ARC** *DNF @ 25%* Man I feel like a serial DNF reader but sadly this didn't work for me for a couple of reasons. First, the writing style wasn't balanced. Some sentences were great at describing how Csilla is "surviving" in 1956 Hungary or the Danube river. Other sentences were overlong or jarring or had weird word choices. So it was trying too hard or it was more jagged. The way the author kept using "he didn't disappear me" or "he would disappear them" drove me nuts! There was even a line where the protagonist had "forgotten" that her parents funeral was just the other day. She was so busy after waking up, being followed and then talking to stranger before going to work...that's too busy to remember how you felt at your parents funeral that was like the day before? That threw me off and this unbalanced writing drove me crazy. Plus, the writing just painted the protagonist as a one note character whose only paranoid and broken. I understand that she went through a lot as a child, but sometimes the unbalanced writing didn't focus on those minute details of her past to emphasize her various feelings of being betrayed by her country, suspicious of her after but also wanting her family back. It just didn't work...I love the idea of this book and events like this are important but writers like Ruta Sepetys pull this type of story off better. I possibly might try this author again, but man this didn't work for me but if you love historical fiction and the writing style doesn't bother you as much, it's worth a try.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Suzanne

    This Rebel Heart is a beautiful tribute to the enduring human spirit, especially Jewish resilience and perseverance. This is set in 1956 Hungary, so trigger warnings for Holocaust, pogroms, security forces disappearing people. Locke wove some place magic (a river) and Jewish magic (a golem and an Angel) in but it feels very true, just with a bit of the supernatural. So many feelings, especially given our current political times. I think for anyone who likes Ruta Sepetys this will be a great read This Rebel Heart is a beautiful tribute to the enduring human spirit, especially Jewish resilience and perseverance. This is set in 1956 Hungary, so trigger warnings for Holocaust, pogroms, security forces disappearing people. Locke wove some place magic (a river) and Jewish magic (a golem and an Angel) in but it feels very true, just with a bit of the supernatural. So many feelings, especially given our current political times. I think for anyone who likes Ruta Sepetys this will be a great read. I received an early audio copy of this book from Penguin Random House Audio. Two narrators read the book, one giving the vast majority of the narration and the other reading entries from the main character’s father’s journals. Really well done.

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