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The Ways We Hide–“escapologist extraordinaire”

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The Ways We Hide

by Kristina McMorris

Admittedly it is hard to write a “happy” book about World War II. The Ways We Hide is definitely not a cheerful book. While she avoids graphic descriptions of the violence of the war, author Kristina McMorris excels at conveying the overwhelming sadness of the personal tragedies, even those that occurred pre-war, early in the orphaned protagonist Fenna’s life. When she escapes from an orphanage in the U.S., she is taken in by her best friend Arie’s family despite their religious differences. The parents in both families are Dutch immigrants. As young adults they discover their romantic love for each other, but Fenna suddenly leaves her adoptive family without explanation.

Taking her love of magic to the stage, Fenna becomes a self-made illusionist in the style of Houdini. She is recruited by the British in World War II to devise gadgets and conceal them in support of Allied troops in Europe. The British ask her to go to Holland on a dangerous rescue mission to find Arie, but more more is involved than her handlers are telling her.

The story is well played out with unexpected twists around every corner. This work of historical fiction is well written and extremely well researched. I can’t say that it is a page turner for me because it is so sad. The characters have little hope for positive outcomes, but pursue their noble goals against all odds. The work is undercover, classified, and occurs in Nazi controlled areas. Therefore, it is hard to know who can be trusted.

The author explains at the end of the book her framework for inserting the fictional Fenna into the mostly historically accurate backdrop with some slippage of time. She has researched her subjects well which include not only the war efforts but also an anti-labor strike event that changed Fenna’s life forever.

The ending is not a happily ever after with the protagonists riding off into the sunset, but how could it be when so many people have died? Despite the reality of the situation, the author does manage to conjure up a “lemons into lemonade” scenario for Fenna that is satisfying and actually sweet. I am glad I read this book which reveals a lot about undercover work, dangers, and relationships in World War II.

I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Rating: 4/5

Category: Historical Fiction, Women’s Fiction

Notes: 1. There are author notes at the end which explain in detail how McMorris got her inspiration for the various parts of the book. It is followed by suggestions for further reading for those who would like to learn more about the topics in the book.
2. Online there is posted a Book Club Guide on the author’s website ( While I do recommend this book for book clubs, individual readers will also find this guide helpful in visualizing the setting and the culture. It includes Dutch inspired recipes plus a recipe for invisible ink (not the lemon juice type). There are questions designated as a Reading Group Guide. Perhaps most importantly to me, there are fifteen photographs that will transport the reader back in time. There are also QR codes for videos and other additional resources online. In addition, there are suggestions for group activities to enhance book club meetings.

Publication: September 6, 2022—Sourcebooks Landmark

Memorable Lines:

Traveling in clusters pallbearers carried pure-white caskets low at their sides. The dimensions of each befitted a child, the weight minuscule compared to the burden.

In this instant I consider a potential reason my life has been repeatedly spared. Could it be to attain justice for the victims of a cruel and callous enemy?

He offers his hand with a caring look. “May our paths cross again,” he says, “in a better world.” It’s impossible to envision any future beyond the immediate challenges ahead. Still, I accept his handshake, grateful for the notion.


  1. WWII historical fiction used to be my favorite genre, this does sound very interesting, but also as you said, sad…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. WendyW says:

    I enjoy WWII historical fiction, but it’s sad, and I can’t read too many in a row. They are good for every once in a while.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lghiggins says:

      I agree, Wendy. At one point I realized that I needed to back off on my acceptance of WWII ARC’s. There are so many different perspectives and stories that can come out of the war, but I was requesting too many that are just too hard to read.


  3. Gretchen says:

    Like the other commenters, I enjoy WWII fiction, but can’t read much of it. There are so many perspectives and this one does sound interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lghiggins says:

      Yes, it is a different look at the war. The British actually smuggled tools, codes, maps, etc. in disguised formats for prisoners of war like Monopoly and card decks. When the Germans caught on to the various tricks, the British would have to devise new methods.


  4. My husband would love this one, thank you Linda!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Carla says:

    I found this story very interesting as well, Linda. I didn’t know about using illusionists in the resistance or spies and that part of the story was fascinating. You are right though, these books do not end with a HEA. I often feel funny saying I “enjoyed” a book dealing with WW2. There are so many tragedies.

    Liked by 1 person

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