Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman
Series: Prisoner of Night and Fog #1
Published: April 22nd, 2014
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
389 pages (e-ARC)
Genre: Young adult historic fiction
Acquired this book: From the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review
Warning: May contain spoilers
In 1930s Munich, danger lurks behind dark corners, and secrets are buried deep within the city. But Gretchen Müller, who grew up in the National Socialist Party under the wing of her "uncle" Dolf, has been shielded from that side of society ever since her father traded his life for Dolf's, and Gretchen is his favorite, his pet.
Uncle Dolf is none other than Adolf Hitler.
And Gretchen follows his every command.
Until she meets a fearless and handsome young Jewish reporter named Daniel Cohen. Gretchen should despise Daniel, yet she can't stop herself from listening to his story: that her father, the adored Nazi martyr, was actually murdered by an unknown comrade. She also can't help the fierce attraction brewing between them, despite everything she's been taught to believe about Jews.
As Gretchen investigates the very people she's always considered friends, she must decide where her loyalties lie. Will she choose the safety of her former life as a Nazi darling, or will she dare to dig up the truth—even if it could get her and Daniel killed?
From debut author Anne Blankman comes this harrowing and evocative story about an ordinary girl faced with the extraordinary decision to give up everything she's ever believed . . . and to trust her own heart instead.
I was excited about Prisoner of Night and Fog from the moment I saw the cover and title. Both were so evocative, they immediately piqued my interest. Throw in the fact I love historic fiction, and I had high hopes. Anne Blankman didn’t disappoint; she wrote a compelling debut full of mystery and romance.
Right from the first page, we’re thrown into 1930s Munich, Germany, where Hitler is rising through the ranks, and Jews are seen as little more than a problem that needs to be eliminated. Gretchen has grown up believing everything Hitler, her adopted uncle, says about white supremacy and how Jews are sub-human…until she’s put into a situation where she sees that Jews aren’t the monsters she’s been lead to believe; they’re flesh and blood humans, just like her.
Prisoner of Night and Fog is alternately fascinating and horrifying. At first, Hitler is portrayed as the kind uncle, someone Gretchen can count on, believe in, and respect. He’s generous and funny and eloquent. He’s always been there for Gretchen and her family, and she has no reason not to trust him. Then she slowly starts to see the darker side of him, and that side made my skin crawl.
Hitler wasn’t the only evil presence in this book. Among his like-minded associates and minions was Gretchen’s brother Reinhart, a violent, sadistic underling who was willing to do whatever Hitler ordered, and he took pleasure in it. His disturbing presence made me shudder in disgust more than once, and added to the horror and violence of this book.
Blankman did a fantastic job of creating a rich setting. I was completely immersed in 1930s Munich, from the description of the people to the clothes to the cars to the city itself.
Prisoner of Night and Fog wasn’t all darkness and horror though. Gretchen was a great character, very smart and independent. When Daniel came along and started making Gretchen question her beliefs, I liked her even more, and I fell hard for Daniel. The romance was a great addition to the book; it was slow and sweet, and I loved that Daniel was such a huge part of Gretchen’s growth. Their friendship, and then the romance that blossomed between them, was one of my favourite aspects of the book.
The last quarter or so of Prisoner of Night and Fog was so action-packed and suspenseful, it left me breathless. I couldn’t read the pages fast enough, and my heart was racing with fear for Gretchen and Daniel. It’s been a long time since I was that drawn into a book, but I felt like I was right there with Gretchen and Daniel fighting for my life. I would have been satisfied with the ending, but I’m thrilled that this is the first book in a series and we’ll get to see more of these characters.
Prisoner of Night and Fog is a thrilling, gripping debut from Anne Blankman. It shows the darker side of life in Germany in the 1930s, but despite the historic setting, the story was easy to connect with because the characters were so real. This is a must-read for lovers of historic fiction, or people interested in Hitler/Nazi Germany. If you don’t read YA, don’t let that stop you from reading this book; I think it has wide appeal, and my 74-year-old mother, who read and loved it, would agree! I would love to see this book turned into a movie.
Have you read Prisoner of Night and Fog? What did you think? If you haven't read it, do you plan to? Do you enjoy historic fiction? Have you read any other books that take place in 1930s Germany?