Book Review: The Ventriloquists by E.M. Ramzipoor (ARC)

The Ventriloquists

Author: E.R. Ramzipoor

Publication Date: 27 August 2019

Genre: Adult Fiction – Historical Fiction

Pages: 544

Publisher: Park Row Books

In this triumphant debut inspired by true events, a ragtag gang of journalists and resistance fighters risk everything for an elaborate scheme to undermine the Reich.

Brussels, 1943. Twelve-year-old street orphan Helene survives by living as a boy and selling copies of the country’s most popular newspaper, Le Soir, now turned into Nazi propaganda. Helene’s entire world changes when she befriends a rogue journalist, Marc Aubrion, who draws her into a secret network publishing dissident underground newspapers.

Aubrion’s unbridled creativity and linguistic genius attract the attention of August Wolff, a high-ranking Nazi official tasked with swaying public opinion against the Allies. Wolff captures Aubrion and his comrades and gives them an impossible choice: use the newspaper to paint the Allies as monsters, or be killed. Faced with no decision at all, Aubrion has a brilliant idea: they will pretend to do the Nazis’ bidding, but instead they will publish a fake edition of Le Soir that pokes fun at Hitler and Stalin—giving power back to the Belgians by daring to laugh in the face of their oppressors.

The ventriloquists have agreed to die for a joke, and they have only eighteen days to tell it.

Told with dazzling scope, taut prose and devastating emotion, The Ventriloquists illuminates the extraordinary acts of courage by ordinary people forgotten by history—unlikely heroes who went to extreme lengths to orchestrate the most stunning feat of journalism in modern history.

I’ll be honest, I don’t typically go for WWI or WWII historical fiction since it’s not a point in history that I particular gravitate towards. I’m typically either Tudor/Victorian or ancient history. That being said, I thoroughly enjoyed this one! 

Set in the backdrop of Brussels in 1943, Marc Aubrion, renowned journalist of Le Soir, is captured by Nazi August Wolff and given the “choice” to publish Le Soir with the Nazi agenda. While convincing Wolff that he will, Aubrion and a ragtag team of resistance fighters and journalists decide they are going to use this opportunity to print a fake edition that makes fun of Hitler and Stalin. 

There were several points that this book reminded me of Inglorious Basterds because of the absurd situations the team puts themselves in to pull off this plot. The characters are all incredibly entertaining and watching them come together in order to pull off this risky operation was pretty incredible. 

My one critique with this story is that at one point, the characters claim the war will end once the Americans decide to join the war. The book takes place in 1943…Pearl Harbor took place in 1941 🤷🏽‍♀️

Thank you to Park Row Books for providing an ARC. This did not influence my review. All opinions are my own.


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