Book Review, Historical Fiction, Holocaust, Series, St. Martin's Press, WWII

Cilka’s Journey (The Tattooist of Auschwitz #2) by Heather Morris


Her beauty saved her — and condemned her.

Cilka is just sixteen years old when she is taken to Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp in 1942, where the commandant immediately notices how beautiful she is. Forcibly separated from the other women prisoners, Cilka learns quickly that power, even unwillingly taken, equals survival.

When the war is over and the camp is liberated, freedom is not granted to Cilka: She is charged as a collaborator for sleeping with the enemy and sent to a Siberian prison camp. But did she really have a choice? And where do the lines of morality lie for Cilka, who was send to Auschwitz when she was still a child?

In Siberia, Cilka faces challenges both new and horribly familiar, including the unwanted attention of the guards. But when she meets a kind female doctor, Cilka is taken under her wing and begins to tend to the ill in the camp, struggling to care for them under brutal conditions.

Confronting death and terror daily, Cilka discovers a strength she never knew she had. And when she begins to tentatively form bonds and relationships in this harsh, new reality, Cilka finds that despite everything that has happened to her, there is room in her heart for love.

From child to woman, from woman to healer, Cilka’s journey illuminates the resilience of the human spirit—and the will we have to survive.


I am one of the few people who has not read The Tattooist of Auschwitz.  So why read book 2 in the series?  Because I was interested in reading a book of historical fiction based on a brave and extraordinary survivor named Cecilia “Cilka” Klein as described by Lale Sokolov, the tattooist himself.

There have to be more ways to stay alive than to be witness to so much death.

After being freed from a concentration camp in 1942, Cilka is charged with sleeping with the enemy and sentenced to 15 years slave labor in a Siberian prison camp.

Time stands still for Cilka as she remembers lining up to go into the other place. That line led to an existence that bore no end date. This time she knows her end date, should she survive to see it. Fifteen years. Will having an end date make the labor more endurable? Is an end date even to be believed?

Cilka is an unforgettable young woman who is wiser than her years due to her horrific 3 years as a Holocaust survivor, and then unfairly condemned as a Siberian prison camp survivor. Her intelligence and ability to learn quickly lands her a job in the prison hospital where she saves the lives she couldn’t at the concentration camp. However, the threat of death is an everyday occurrence and she knows that hope for a different life is something she no longer considers.

This outstanding book stands alone as an emotional and graphic reminder of the horrors of purging societies of their enemies. A page-turner to the end on the hope of seeing Cilka’s freedom and happiness.  Recommend highly!

Thank you to Ms. Morris and St. Martin’s Press for giving me the opportunity to review this book with no expectation of a positive review.


Cilka's Journeys

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Heather MorrisHeather Morris is a bative of New Zealand now resident in Australia, working in a large public hospital in Melbourne. For several years she studied and wrote screenplays, one of which was optioned by an academy award winning screenwriter in the U.S. In 2003, she was introduced to an elderly gentleman “who might just have a story worth telling”. The day Heather met Lale Sokolov changed her life, as their friendship grew and he embarked on a journey of self scrutiny, entrusting the inner most details of his life during the Holocaust. Heather originally wrote Lale’s story as a screenplay – which ranked high in international competitions – before reshaping it into her debut novel, The Tattooist of Auschwitz.

Follow Heather on her website and on Facebook.

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