The Brass Compass: A Novel by Ellen Butler – Review by Sarah Oakes

The Brass CompassThe Brass Compass by Ellen Butler
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A great read about espionage. Lily St James is a World War Two spy passing information about German colonels to members in the Resistance. But when her informant is taken hostage by he SS, she is forced to go on the run. With the SS at her heels, she keeps going across Germany. Whilst on the run, she does her bit for the war effort and discovers friends and foes alike on the way. Can she survive long enough to make a difference?
A great read. Well developed plot with twists and turns.. Well developed characters like Lily doing what she feels is right but vulnerable underneath. Great cast of supporting characters like te sweet Magda or
I loved the visual detail throughout the novel like with the moon on the forest with its trees in the snow, magical and a safe space for Lily. Or Fraudenstadt with its sense of a small town with its cobbled streets and small shops with the townhouse and everyone knows each other, for a sense of comfort and danger wonderfully written.
The use of the first person worked well to display Lilys journey and siaply her thoughts and feelings. The use of dates and locations was a great addition to give the reader a clear sense of the time period and geography. The glossary was a nice touch, helping the reader understand terms but may have been more useful at the start of the book. I also liked the use of languages in the novel giving it a sense of culture
The use of memories also helped to display how times had changed for Lily and the simplesafety of life in the past contrasting with the danger of the present, wonderfully written. However, it sometimes had abrupt switches from the past and present and hard to follow.
The only issue I would raise is that there were a lot of long sentences that were hard to read and could have been resolved with a variety of sentence lengths to captivate the reader into the action. Overall, a great read and I would give it four stars.

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