Series: Russian Mennonite Chronicles

by MJ Krause-Chivers

Book Cover: Katarina's Dark Shadow
ISBN: 9781775189558
ISBN: 9781775189558
ISBN: 9781775189558
ISBN: 9781775189558

A Mennonite girl living in Imperial Russia's province of Ukraine, comes-of-age at the brink of the Russian Civil War.



1915-1917: Katarina is a fifteen year old girl with big dreams. Her German Mennonite family has more traditional plans for her. But Russia is losing the world war, civil disruption is everywhere and more trouble is brewing within Ukraine. Everything is changing and no one can be trusted. As Katarina tries to make sense of it all, her world starts to implode. Life has never been so scary.

1951: Peter stumbles on his adopted mother’s diaries from the Russian Revolution. What prompted Katarina to go back to Ukraine during WW2? Who is Jacob? What secrets lie behind the Iron Curtain?

Set in Ukraine during the Russian civil war, Katarina’s Dark Shadow prequels the courageous human struggle inside a distinct faith during violent political times. This is a continuing saga with an ending that will have you reaching for Book two.


Inspired by true stories and actual events based on the harrowing tales of the author's ancestors, this book will particularly interest those with German-Prussian, Ukrainian, or European Mennonite ancestry.

Reviews:Reviewed by Keith Mbuya for Readers' Favorite on wrote:

"Katarina Rempel’s dream was to be a schoolteacher when she was old enough and travel the world. Just like other groups in Europe and possibly the rest of the world, the Mennonite women were supposed to only worry about household chores and their husbands. Katarina and her family were living in Russia in the early twentieth century. Perhaps Katarina was too ambitious about her future, especially for an ordinary teenage Mennonite girl, now that there were speculations about an imminent outbreak of war in Russia and Germany. With dangerous Russian gangs on the loose, political pressure in the country, and a very volatile mass of Russian countrymen, is the war likely to happen? If it does, will the Mennonites survive? Having found his mother’s diary in the mid-twentieth century (the “post-war Germany” era), Peter, Katarina’s son, narrates his mother’s story from accounts in her diary, in MJ Krause-Chivers’ Russian Mennonite Chronicles (Katarina’s Dark Shadow).

Russian Mennonite Chronicles is an amazing dystopian-themed novel. The author forges a demandingly engaging storyline that exposes the agony and suffering the Mennonites went through during the Russian Civil War. The story is given a perfect setting in the early twentieth century. This is seen in the choice of words and ideas which embrace the use of technology and vocabulary from that era. The vivid depictions also impressively bring out the story’s setting. What I love most is how the author beautifully incorporates the culture and beliefs of the Mennonites in the narration, highlighting their uniqueness from Russians and other Europeans. Needless to say, I did learn a lot from Russian Mennonite Chronicles (Katarina’s Dark Shadow). The author boldly unwraps the character traits of the characters. There is a generally somber tone accompanying the narration, subject to the agony expressed in MJ Krause-Chivers’ words. This coupled with the suspense and tension in the book took me on an emotional roller coaster. I’m on my way to getting the next installment in MJ Krause-Chivers’ Russian Mennonite Chronicles. I loved this book."

Reviewed by Rachel Dehning for Reader Views (11/2021) on wrote:

“Katarina’s Dark Shadow by MJ Krause-Chivers is a timeless story about love, loss, and staying true to yourself.

Set in the early 1900s during WWI, the story opens with Katarina and her family celebrating the wedding of her older sister, Anna. It soon becomes clear that marital bliss is an illusion, as evil overtakes the world, with little hope for current love. Katarina’s family are Mennonites – faithful followers of Christ’s word, but separate themselves from others. Katarina’s family lives in a time when men hold a more prominent social standing than women, with women expected to have one goal in life: to become a wife and mother. Readers follow Katarina as she strives to find her place in society while battling the effects of trauma inflicted at a young age. Fast forward several decades, Peter has found Katarina’s diaries in a pile of rubble amongst the chaos. Katarina has been declared dead for years, yet the discovery of her diaries must be more than a coincidence? Peter pours over her vulnerable words from her teenage years and studies them to discover their hidden meaning, along with their relevance to his life.

Katarina’s Dark Shadow will hold up well over the years. While discussing just some of the horrors of the Russian Revolution, the story is both historical and entertaining. The author relays facts to the reader through the dialogue, with some artistic liberties, to make the story enjoyable and worthwhile. Living in twenty-first-century America, it’s tough to imagine living in a society with men viewed as superior to women; it is unheard of nowadays due to pride and such a strong push for equality among not only men versus women. Living firmly in your faith, such as the Mennonites claim to do, is commendable, as this is nearly unheard of in today’s society. Standing firm in your personal beliefs is also admirable, given any situation. Lastly, mental health due to a traumatic event could not have been presented better; Krause-Chivers shows how, even today, this topic is viewed similarly as in the past among some, even though mental health is more well-known today than ever.

Katarina’s Dark Shadow is a lovely play on words that is suitable for history buffs and really anyone. The end of the story concludes part one of the Russian Mennonite Chronicles, leaving anticipation of what part two will reveal.

About the Author

MJ Krause-Chivers is an award-winning self-published author who writes historical fiction about the Russian civil war in Ukraine. As a trauma survivor and a granddaughter of Mennonite refugees from the Russian Civil War in Ukraine, she incorporates both her personal experiences and her family history into her writing. The themes of faith, mental health, and cultural diversity are reflected by her background in social work, paralegal and tourism. Like her, the complex characters in her stories are driven by perseverance and hope as they encounter and overcome tragic circumstances. The author also writes Christian non-fiction as Miranda J. Chivers.