Cover Image: A Shadow in Moscow

A Shadow in Moscow

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Member Reviews


A Shadow in Moscow is a duel timeline story set in the years after WWII and into the Cold War. It features two young women spies.

Ingrid Bauer, born in Vienna to an Austrian father and British mother, loses her parents in WWII. She marries Leo, an ambitious young Russian who is moving up in the USSR political system. They move to Russia, where Ingrid experiences the oppressive Soviet lifestyle.

Anya Kadinova is a Russian student who spends four years in Georgetown University in the Foreign Studies Initiative program in the 1980s. Upon returning to Russia, her loyalties are tested and she is no longer satisfied with the old Russian ways.

This book seems to be a YA, with a light touch of romance. The interactions between the characters help to highlight the differences between the Soviet Union and US. Both women risk a great deal to pursue what they believe is right. It is a light read with just a nice amount of tension to keep it interesting and enjoyable.

I would like to thank NetGalley, Katherine Reay, and Harper Muse for the opportunity to read and review this book.

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I wanted to love this one, because I've not read that many book set during the cold war. But while the writing and the research was great I just couldn't relate to the characters. But I did learn a lot from the fiction book. That I now want to deep dive into the history of the time period.

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Full of suspense and intrigue, A Shadow in Moscow is a departure from Reay's usual romantic offering. In this novel, we are brought into the world of espionage in the Cold War era. This is a period that I haven't seen covered in fiction very often, and I appreciate seeing an author tell a story set in the era. The book is filled with suspense as the characters face danger in their work as spies. It also highlights the way this career affects a person, not just at work, but in their personal lives, as well. Add in some swoony romance, and you have a novel most fans of historical fiction will delight in.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Harper Muse through NetGalley. All opinions expressed are my own.

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This book has sat on my shelf unread for far too long. At first, I couldn't bring myself to read it because then it would be over (IYKYK), but also because I knew it would take more of my heart than I had ready to give. Sometimes books come to you in their own time, and this one is one I'm glad I saved until now, when I could truly savor it.

Because of this story, I better understand freedom. I value the ability to make my own choices even more strongly. I better comprehend what life was like for my parents, growing up during the cold war. That term didn't make sense to me...until Katherine Reay explained it to me.

Ingrid and Anya exemplify the kind of quietly courageous women that the world often overlooks--because they fade into the background on purpose. They don't ask for fame, glory, or money to save the world--they do it because they have an inherent need to do what is right. And though mistakes are made along the way, the choice to follow their heart is one that doesn't hold regrets.

Five HUGE stars. Highly recommend.

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I took my time reading this story simply because I wanted to savor and enjoy the adventure. I found myself thinking about this book when I wasn't reading it. I enjoyed the two time periods and how they connected at the end. The present day was a little more interesting but I think its because it happened during my lifetime. I enjoyed getting to know Ingrid and Anya. The felt very real to me.
I loved all the spy stuff in this book. It was fascinating.
The story is written from the perspective of Ingrid and Anya who grew up in Russia. It really gave me a different perspective on how they lived in Russia under soviet control. It was fascinating and the story really brought history to life.
This thought from Anya really stuck with me. It made me appreciate the freedoms i have.

"I’ve learned that Americans are hard in ways I couldn’t have imagined and find absolutely exhausting. To have all these constitutionally protected freedoms is enviable, but it also means you have to respect them, uphold them, and fight for them. "
"The whole thing takes strength—the illusory peace that conformity brings has no place here. Here peace and freedom rest on Americans’ ability to live in tension and to discuss, debate, and refine. To live like that takes constant commitment and energy—every opinion, every decision, every day. :

I know that this story is fiction but i have no doubt that there were many men and women who put their life on the line for their beliefs.

I cannot wait to read more stories by Katherine Reay.
I recommend this to my family and friends.

I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the publisher. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.

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This is such a great book and I loved it! It is well crafted, detailed and emotional. Katherine Reay writes parallel narratives about women spies in Moscow that are both interesting. Although it's a sad story, it also carries a message of hope and human determination. I highly recommend this!

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It took me a bit to get into this novel split between the perspectives of the first and second Cold War eras. But when I did, I couldn't put it down.

Reay is a master storyteller, but it's always the family relationships in her books that make me teary-eyed.

I didn't see the ending coming, but I loved each heroine and was in awe of the part she played.

A must-read for lovers of historical fiction.

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A dual timeline story set in post ww2 Russia and 1980s US. In Vienna, Ingrid loses everything and everyone after the war, marrying a man on the rise in the Russian bureaucracy. She moves her life to Russia and grapples with living in a repressive society. The details for this era are a good reminder of what Russia must have been like in that era. In the 1980s a young Russian student is living in DC and getting her college education via a special program for Russian students. Wonderful storytelling.

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Katherine Reay is a versatile writer. Some of the first books that I read by her were homages to literature. Just a few of the titles that I enjoyed were Dear Mr. Knightley (a take on Daddy Longlegs), The Austen (yes, Jane) Escape, The Printed Letter Bookshop and, Of Literature and Latte. She then expanded into historical fiction with The London House.

In this novel, a dual time line historical one, Reay takes readers to WWII Germany in telling one story, while in the other a Russian young woman is an exchange student in DC in the 80s.

Ingrid, of the earlier time period , has lost many in the war. Her parents were helping the Allies when fate caught them. Ingrid has decisions to make about where she will live her life. What does she decide? Who is her husband? What will she do as she learns more about him?

Anya, in the later time period, comes to love America more than she thought she would. Will she go back to Russia? If yes, what will she do there? And, importantly, how will the story lines converge?

Those who love history, spy stories, love stories, family stories and all around good reads, pick this one up. I really enjoyed it.

Many thanks to Harper Muse and NetGalley for this title. All opinions are my own.

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"A Shadow in Moscow" is a historical novel about the Cold War told in dual timelines. Overall, I definitely enjoyed it but some of the character decisions and reactions didn't really make sense to me.

Still, the plot was interesting if a little predictable and, for the most part, I liked the characters.

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I really wasn't expecting such a story from Katherine Reay. It's been a while since I've read one of her books but from memory it was more contemporary with a romantic element. "A Shadow" reminded me of some of the great spy stories of yesteryear. What makes this different is that Reay's emphasis is exploring the story through the eyes of her two leads: Ingrid and Anya. It's not so much about the 'spying' so to speak but how they respond, act and live as spies in treacherous Moscow during the Cold War years.

I looked forward to picking the story up each time and discovering what happens next in these two ladies lives. The story is quite riveting and keeps you turning pages. I enjoyed how Reay swapped the POVs frequently, so we could understand what both ladies were up to, even though they were years apart.

Interestingly, the dates recorded under each POV change are important and they gradually draw closer together which really adds intrigue and pace to the story. Once they converge, it's really hard to put down as the suspense ramps up and we wonder how Reay is going to finish the story.

Being true to the nature of Cold War stories, not everything works out for the best in the end, and Reay doesn't shy away from such which adds to the authenticity of the story. Clearly Reay has done a lot of research and has a good grasp of some of the intricacies of the Soviet life and particularly, the challenges of being a spy living under the regime of the time.

Ingrid and Anya are both tremendously complex and fascinating to spend a few hours with. I throughly enjoyed how Reay presented both as well as a number of the other players. Wondering who was sincere and a possible threat makes you stay on your toes as you meet certain characters. Interestingly, what they represent at one point may change during the course of the story which again makes the story even more interesting.

I'm so pleased I requested an early ebook copy of this story from Harper Muse via Net Galley (and also thank you, Rachel McMillan, for the recommendation), however, this had no bearing on my review.

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I have been a long time fan of Katherine Reay. Her books always contain that something extra special that elevates them to the top. But her book A Shadow in Moscow . . . now it is in a class all its own. I thought The London House was the best of the best, until I read her latest offering. The stories of Ingrid and Anya begin in two different time periods in the Soviet Union. This is the time of the Cold War, and through meticulous research Reay peels back the layers of Soviet society and the underworld of spies. This is a spy book! Ingrid and Anya make their choices for different reasons, but they both work to undermine the plans of the regime. The tension of the complex plotting kept me on edge. I just knew they would be exposed at any minute! And while the spy story is intriguing, Reay’s characterization is what makes this novel exemplary. Ingrid and Anya are real — flawed, yes, but ultimately noble and sacrificing. I flew through this book, but I probably should have taken my time. It is one to be savored. And talked about. My book club loved A Shadow in Moscow. We discussed the character dynamics, the historical setting, the structure of the novel — basically everything you could talk about a book. A Shadow in Moscow is also going to make you Google to find out the stories behind the story. There was a lot we just didn’t know.

If you want an excellently written and researched novel, then don’t hesitate to pick up A Shadow in Moscow. It receives my rare Very Highly Recommended rating.

Very Highly Recommended.

Great for Book Clubs.

Audience: Adults.

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By Katherine Reay

I am so intrigued by the premise of this book about two brave women - spies in Cold War Moscow, set in two gripping timelines beginning in Vienna in 1954 and Washington, DC in 1980. Katherine Reay's writing is immersive, and research so well done about WWII and the Soviet regime at the height of the Cold War. I enjoyed the dual time lines and alternating points of view which gave me an insiders' view about these two incredibly inspiring women who have made sacrifices, and have suffered tremendous losses.

This is a definite must read for any historical fiction reader.

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This was by far the best spy novel I have read. It was full of intrigue and it was very obvious that the author had done a lot of research. Shadow in Moscow was a great mix of fiction and fact. Getting an understanding of life in Moscow during that time was so fascinating. It was written as a split timeline. While it took a while to figure how the two timelines were connected, it was so worth the wait. Shadow in Moscow kept my attention and I definitely lost a lot of sleep staying awake to finish it. This was my first book by Katherine Reay. But I enjoyed Shadow in Moscow so much that I purchased all the remaining books that she has written.
I received a free copy of A Shadow in Moscow from Net Galley with no obligations.

Reviews posted on Goodreads and Amazon

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I thought Ingrid’s story was the most compelling.
I didn’t care for Anya. I thought she was very cruel to Scott.
The book does show what life was like in the waning days of the Soviet Union.
I grew up during the Cold War and was always glad I never had to live under communism.

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This book is a dual timeline story. It is set in Moscow during the Cold War. It is the story of two women who become spies. The book keeps you reading, it is in the page-turner category. There is so much that goes on. I read an electronic copy courtesy of Net Galley.

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This one checked all my boxes
✅ complex, well-developed characters
✅ engaging plot with good pacing
✅ family drama
✅ great writing
✅ dark, suspenseful atmosphere
I haven’t read a lot of historical fiction set during the Cold War and I loved learning about the time period and Russian culture in general. This was my first Katherine Reay novel and I can’t wait to check out her backlist.

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A gripping story of life behind the iron curtain.
Two women, Soviet spies.
How do their lives intertwine?
I love a good spy novel, and this one is SO good!
Set in the Cold War, it brought it to life for me in a new way.
Katherine Reay is an excellent write of historical fiction. Her attention to details really make this story shine.
Ingrid. The early days, back at the end of WWII. She finds herself in difficult circumstances, and does what she must.
And then there's Anya. A young Russian woman in the 70s. She has the opportunity to go to the US for college, but then has to return to her homeland to work for the government.
Both of these find their opportunities to stand up for what they believe in.
This story is action packed and full of danger.
I loved it, and highly recommend it to anyone who loves mystery, spies, or international intrigue.

Disclaimer: I receive complimentary books from various sources, including, publishers, publicists, authors, and/or NetGalley. I am not required to write a positive review, and have not received any compensation. The opinions shared here are my own entirely. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

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Well it took me a couple days to digest my feelings and come to terms with them. A Shadow in Moscow was a whole entire journey through the distant past and the more recent past that covered a LOT of ground.

Having read some of Reay’s earlier work, I don’t think I adequately prepared my brain for the jump into historical fiction. This is still a genre I love, so I did enjoy the story. The beginning of the book was compelling and I really appreciated the pacing of the plot there. The middle of the book lagged for me. I got bogged down in the details. I can see where that might lend to the hopelessness felt by the characters, eventually thrusting them towards the last third of the book— which picked back up. I found the ending of the book binge-worthy and stayed up way past my bedtime to finish it.

Without giving too much away, the surprise relationship in the story was deeply moving. It was probably my favorite aspect of the work as a whole.

I didn’t know very much about the Cold War going into this, but I do feel like I learned a great deal in reading. I appreciate the obviously rigorous research that was put in.

This book registers a 0 on the FOTMS scale, and is a great read for fans of Kristin Hannah. I thought that while reading many times. I think I’ll go back now and read The London House also by Katherine Reay.

Thank you to Harper Muse and NetGalley for a digital copy of this title in exchange for my honest review.

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I'm usually not much of a fan of dual timeline stories, but I really enjoyed this one and didn't find it terribly difficult to stay engaged with since I was equally enjoying both stories. I loved the plots and found them very well-thought-out. I liked the subtlety of the younger character's faith journey as well. What I didn't like, and what made this book lose a star, was the ending. I'm not sure I've ever hated an ending more than I hated this one. I don't want to give too much of a spoiler, but one of the characters makes what would be a beautiful sacrifice if it was necessary, but I was completely unconvinced that it was necessary! There seemed to be a really obvious other way for it to go that would have been so much better. I love this author and will always read her books, but this one just left me so sad and so frustrated because I don't think it needed to happen that way.

I received a complimentary electronic copy of this book from NetGalley.

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