The Kirkus Review

“A compelling exploration of faith and resistance in the face of oppression.”
—Kirkus Reviews

I’ve been working with Mindstir Media on a juggernaut of promotion over these past few weeks. The press release is ready to roll. Finishing touches are being made to the book trailer for YouTube. A consultant is assisting with preparations for social media channels. At the moment (April 15), we’re waiting for Amazon and Barnes & Noble to release the book on their websites. Sign up for my newsletter and I’ll let you know when it’s finally available for sale!

We have great plans for marketing, but even so, I’ve always wanted to go one step further and prove that The Sower of Black Field is a quality work, one that is worthy of all this attention. For those who are unfamiliar with Kirkus Reviews, it has been the Siskel and Ebert of book review organizations since 1933. The reviews are impartial and objective—often notoriously harsh—so a positive one is indeed a feather in your cap. I submitted The Sower for a review back in January. The results are in! For reference, here’s the link on their website. The full review is below:

Koch’s historical novel, based on actual events, navigates the moral complexities of life in a small German village during World War II.

Viktor Koch, a 67-year-old Catholic missionary from the United States, lives in a monastery with his fellow monks of the Passionist order in Schwarzenfeld, “a backwater village nestled in the rambling, pine-covered hills of southeast Germany.” He is a beloved member of the community, having previously employed all the unemployed workers of the village in the construction of the monastery eight years prior. But in the spring of 1941, as the Third Reich bans Catholic worship and prepares to seize the monastery to transform it into a boarding school, Father Viktor and his order are commanded to leave. Choosing to stay behind to run a church, the priest likens his predicament to Christ’s parable of the sower, observing Schwarzenfeld as being filled with “good patches of lush soil…but the thorns are proliferating in Germany, and the fowl are ravenous.” Following Father Viktor’s story from 1941 to 1945, Koch, the great grand-niece of the real-life priest, expands the narrative to include several other morally conflicted characters, such as a local Nazi office director who’s sympathetic to Father Viktor’s plight, a local baker named Norbert who’s critical of Nazi policies, and his fellow bakery worker, Helene, who has two sons. The oldest son, Klaus, finds himself torn between loyalty to his family and the allure of his Hitler Youth training. Father Viktor regularly sermonizes and reflects on the importance of working within God’s framework to determine which path to choose in a world that’s ultimately outside of our control. As the shadow of war spreads, Koch deftly intertwines the tales of Schwarzenfeld’s inhabitants, all wrestling with their consciences and limited choices. Though the momentum of the story occasionally lags due to repetitive themes and strict adherence to historical events, the depth of the character development and the vivid descriptions of their internal struggles will keep readers engaged even through the slower passages.

A compelling exploration of faith and resistance in the face of oppression.

For an annotated, scholarly version of the history behind The Sower of Black Field, read my peer-reviewed paper, “An American Priest in Nazi Germany: The Story of Fr. Viktor Koch, C.P.,” published in the Fall 2014 issue of Gathered Fragments, the journal of the Catholic Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania. You may also enjoy a visit to the project website, »