Adventure stories always have a special place in the heart of every reader. They are one of the reasons why we tell narratives in the first place. They take us to various places and to a different time. They tell of heroes, their courage, their blunders, the thrills, choices, redemption and hopefully, a happy ending. Louise Andrea Dube’s Robika is a grand adventure definitely worth reading.

Robika is Louise Andrea Dube’s first published novel. It tells the story of Hungarian boy named Robika, who is a child opera performer. Growing up in Budapest , Hungary in the 1930s, Robika is a commoner who fell in love with Gabriella.  She is a ballerina who is a member of an aristocratic family. Despite their relationship being forbidden, they continue to meet secretly.

However, the Second World War broke out in 1939 and Gabriella’s family was forced to flee to Sweden to avoid the invading Nazi army. Robika, on the other hand, was also forced out of the opera as Hitler’s army approaches. He is drafted into a non-combatant unit of the Hungarian army. Despite being caught in the crossfire and narrowly escaping with his life, Robika opted to go home instead of going to Austria. This sets a series of events that would define Robika’s character and shape his future.

As World War II unfolds, Robika’s life takes various turns and surprise as he is helplessly dragged deeper into the world of military and international conflict. First, he was called in again to active service, this time as an armed combatant. He then went on to survive and evade numerous attempts on his life. He was captured by the Russians but manage to outwit his prisoners. He manages to slip inside the U.S. Embassy and worked as their spy. Knowing that the Russian secret police is watching him, he begins a secret affair and as a façade starts to live a double life. Years later, he was forced to serve the Russians and was captured by the enemy. He was subjected to numerous kinds of torture, was starved, and beaten for a whole year. Eventually, he was sentenced to death but was given amnesty and not after another six years of imprisonment along with other political prisoners and Christian monarchs. Robika then accepts a deal with the Soviets to work as a spy in exchange for his freedom. Robika used this as an opportunity to finally get out of the country by working as a double spy. Before the book ends, Robika finds himself on the edge of the Austrian border free from his Russian handlers. He then kisses the ground and thanked God for sparing his life.

A sequel for Robika is currently in the works.

The Optimistic Storyteller

Reading Louise Andrea Dube’s Robika reminds us of another World War II autobiographical novel by French author Joseph Joffo. A Bag of Marbles tells the story of two brothers from Paris who had to set on a long journey towards the Free Zone. The two brothers must hide their Jewish identity, evade Nazis, and slip from one occupied territory to another until they reach an agreed location to reunite with their older brothers.

Dube writes in a manner where there are just enough details to merit curiosity going from one page to the next. She does not bore us with unnecessary descriptions, just enough to transform us to a particular setting in her story.  While Robika is story more dark and haunting than that of Joppo’s, it possesses the same charisma and optimism which makes it an adventure rather than a dark novel.

Robika’s character exudes persistence, wit, humor, and optimism which Dube successfully paints across the 36 chapters of the book. While the title suggests that it is more of a light reading rather than about the horrors and tragedy that wars bring, Robika nonetheless, narrates with vividness its distastefulness and how it changes humans. More importantly, it asserts that in times of war, all the more we should keep the faith, embrace dignity, and persevere. There lies the essence of adventure in Dube’s narrative.

The Adventure Continues

What readers might like most about Louise Andrea Dube’s Robika is the way she narrates each chapter with distinct emotions without being overly dramatic. We understand that Robika is not an ordinary war narrative, yet it is told in a way that the reader is not required to invest emotionally to the point that the sense of adventure is lost. There is just enough breather in every intense scene to allow both thrill and enjoyment. ReadersMagnet Reviews strongly recommends Louise Andrea Dube’s Robika. We are looking forward to its sequel.