Book Review – The Altar Girl by Orest Stelmach

Last June, I finally took the plunge and joined Kindle Unlimited. I also decided to branch out and read work from authors that might not be as well known (because the well known authors don’t typically participate in Kindle Unlimited). This led me to “The Altar Girl”, the prequel the Nadia Tesla series by Orest Stelmach.


The daughter of uncompromising Ukrainian immigrants, Nadia was raised to respect guts, grit, and tradition. When the events around the seemingly accidental death of her estranged godfather don’t add up, Nadia is determined to discover the truth—even if she attracts the attention of dangerous men intent on finding out what she knows through any means possible.

Her investigation leads her to her hometown and to the people least likely to welcome her back: her family.

In this thrilling prequel to the Nadia Tesla series, Nadia must try to solve the mystery surrounding her godfather’s death—and his life. The answers to her questions are buried with the secrets of her youth and in post–World War II refugee camps. What Nadia learns will change her life forever.

My Take

From the very beginning, I was intrigued. The world that his protagonist, Nadia Tesla, exists in is a small, but influential community of Ukranian emigres that live in Hartford, Connecticut. His story revolves around the death of Nadia’s godfather and her investigation into the circumstances.

Stelmach does a very good job of telling the story from a female protagonist perspective without trying too hard like many other more famous authors. He also does a very good job of alternating the current story thread with a thread from Nadia’s childhood as she goes through survival training.

I look forward to reading more of Stelmach’s work and I’m grateful that joining Kindle Unlimited led me to his books.

This book was well-written and led me to read the other three books in the Nadia Tesla series. I was struck by how the Ukranian culture is very similar to my own Italian culture in terms of family values.

There were some instances in the book where the plot meandered into unexpected directions, but it was mostly a tight plot.

Overall, I give this book four out of five pizzas


About the Author

Orest Stelmach is the author of the Nadia Tesla series, which is being translated into five languages. The first of the four books, The Boy from Reactor 4, is currently being developed as a feature film, with the author attached as screenwriter and executive producer.

Orest was born to Ukrainian immigrants in Connecticut and speaks four languages. He’s a graduate of Dartmouth College and the Chicago Booth School of Business. Prior to becoming a full-time writer, he managed international investment portfolios. He lives with his wife and cat on Cape Cod.

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