Authors Showcase: The Altar Girl by Orest Stelmach
May 31, 2015
The Book: Altar girl
The Author: Orest Stelmach
The Story: The daughter of uncompromising Ukrainian immigrants, Nadia was raised to respect guts, grit, and tradition. When the events around the seemingly accidental death of her estranged godfather don’t add up, Nadia is determined to discover the truth—even if she attracts the attention of dangerous men intent on finding out what she knows through any means possible.
Her investigation leads her to her hometown and to the people least likely to welcome her back: her family.
In this thrilling prequel to the Nadia Tesla series, Nadia must try to solve the mystery surrounding her godfather’s death—and his life. The answers to her questions are buried with the secrets of her youth and in post–World War II refugee camps. What Nadia learns will change her life forever.
About Orest Stelmach:
Born in America to Ukrainian immigrants, Orest Stelmach spoke no English when he started his education. He went on to earn degrees from Dartmouth College and the University of Chicago. He has held a variety of jobs, including dishwasher, shelf stocker, English teacher in Japan, and international investment portfolio manager.
The Altar Girl is his fourth novel in the Nadia Tesla series, following The Boy From Reactor 4, The Boy Who Stole From the Dead, and The Boy Who Glowed in the Dark. He resides in Simsbury, Connecticut.
Review by D. Safir:
This book is much more than a mystery. It is also a terrific history lesson about the Ukrainians and what they suffered, as displaced persons, after World War II.
Even more than that, it is a look into the social and psychological dynamics of the Ukrainian people. It is, I have found out, a prequel to the first book, The Boy From Reactor 4, in the Nadia Tesla series. I read this as a Kindle First and knew nothing of this series. It didn’t matter.
The book works as a stand-alone just fine. It tells of Nadia’s return to her childhood home in Connecticut, and her reunion with her dysfunctional family, as she attempts to uncover the person she assumes murdered her godfather. She feels her experience as a forensic financial analyst has given her the intelligence and insight to uncover this mystery. Meanwhile, it alternates with chapters recounting her experience in the wilderness where, at age 12, she fought to prove her survival skills.
Both stories are extremely fascinating. Even more fascinating is what she discovers about the struggles of her people after World War II, which she knew nothing about. At times I found myself a bit frustrated at her resistance to any sentimentality. That’s because I am, by nature, a sentimental person. But this is a profound book and a profound learning experience. The ending was well worth any frustrations I had leading up to it.
I highly recommend this book, especially to those who not only want a mystery, but enjoy learning a bit of history, as well. This is not your typical detective story. It is much more. If you want your typical detective story, move on.
Review by The GreatReads:
Author Orest Stelmach’s fourth book in the Nadia Tesla series, The Altar Girl, is one of those books that I read just because I don’t want to miss any book in the series, as is my wont with serialized novels. However, I was soon stumped with awe and admiration as I explored the story of Nadia which took place before the story of The Boy from Reactor 4.
The Altar Girl by Orest Stelmach is the disturbing and traumatic story of Nadia, her brother Marko and Nadia’s parents who suffered the ignominy of being displaced after World War II. A story of a dysfunctional family, with a lot of background information on Nadia’s Ukrainian cultural heritage,
The Altar Girl marks a turning point in the life of Nadia as she is forced not only to confront her past but also dig into the suspicious death of her godfather which was officially declared as an accident. What she discover will change her life forever. A fine read by all means, I strongly recommend this book.