Cleared Away is a truly unpleasant story. Were it not for the quality of the writing, I’d suggest there wouldn’t be anything redeeming in these few pages. Unfortunately for all of us, this story was written by Regina Watts, which means there’s plenty of quality in the prose. It should come as little surprise that this story–taking place in Nazi Germany–contains elements of rape, extreme violence, and anti-semitism. The reader should be prepared.
We experience the predations of Major Basilius as he turns his attentions toward a young Jewish girl recently transported to the concentration camp. With Watts at the helm, one should know to expect that there is nothing but brutality and degradation to follow.
There is nothing erotic or arousing in this story. If you’re looking for something like that, you’re in the wrong place, and you’ve picked up the wrong story.
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Though we find ourselves continually hoping for something to happen, some vengeance to be enacted against Basilius, Watts tears that hope away with each passing sentence. While this may be less satisfying for the reader, it’s altogether too authentic as far as the outcome is concerned. For most women in the position our young victim finds herself in, there was no salvation to be found. This young woman could have been any of the hundreds–or perhaps thousands–of victims who found themselves raped, abused, and tortured by those in power at concentration camps throughout Europe. Cleared Away is heartbreaking in its brutality and unrelenting, unflinching depiction of the treatment of this poor girl. At the same time, it’s important to remember that this is nothing compared to what was done to so many people in real life.
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