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Paul LeFavor
The Wild Fields
Lying at the crossroads of Europe, Ukraine has long struggled to forge an independent path between the West and Russia. So great has been this conflict that a prominent theme in Ukraine’s history is its struggle for freedom from foreign rule. The Wild Fields is a story about a man and his struggle between good and evil and the decisions he must make for his family, and most importantly, his own sanity, in the war ravaged Donbas region of Ukraine.
LeFavor (God’s Man) draws on his extensive military experience in this of-the-moment novel highlighting the pervasive unrest in Ukraine’s Donbas region. In the coal mining town of Zolote, the cease-fire seems to exist in name only as another young man is dead, and town resident Pavel Koval is considering moving his family to safety elsewhere. Pavel, who works as a butcher with his father, fears for the safety of his children and grandchild. Not only does he witness the danger in his everyday life, but he vividly recalls the horrors he experienced after being conscripted into the Soviet Army in the 1980s. Before long, Pavel discovers that because of his work with the militia, he is in danger from the anti-government operatives in Ukraine. Despite the continued bloodshed and tragedy, Pavel embraces the possibility of a brighter future when his daughter Savka decides to marry American Thomas Wade, a soldier of fortune working with the Ukrainian National Guard.

LeFavor skillfully portrays living under the brutal conditions of a war zone. His narrative is richly enhanced by historical references to combat and continued conflicts between Russia and Ukraine, which is especially apropos to present-day life in the area. The banter between Wade and his fellow soldiers, as they strive to survive and defeat the enemy despite the constant threat to their lives, is richly detailed and persuasive, their wit a vital deflection from continuous peril. While that richness and context at times slows the pace of the narrative, LeFavor draws readers into Pavel’s life with trauma-induced reminders of his service in the Soviet Army.

Readers will appreciate LeFavor's uniquely memorable descriptive language. Yet what will likely resonate most is how The Wild Fields immerses us in the lives of Pavel and his family as they overcome tragedy and seek to find a measure of peace despite the fractious world they inhabit and fight for.

Takeaway: A powerful story of living in war-torn Ukraine, as a man must choose between his homeland and a safer existence for his family.

Great for fans of: Pete Carlson’s Ukrainian Nights, Anna Reid’s Borderland.

Production grades
Cover: A-
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A