Title: Prisoner of Night and Fog
Author: Anne Blankman
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: April 22, 2014
Genre: Young Adult Historical
Book Summary (from Goodreads)
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.
PRISONER OF NIGHT AND FOG was a book I’ve been waiting for awhile. I bought it today, after having marked my calendar with the release date, and I’m glad to say I wasn’t disappointed.
World War II era novels and history are things I enjoy, though I don’t know as much as I wish. (Someday I’ll get around to fixing that…) That being said, I really loved the way Blankman makes history unfold and shows us a well known and despised figure in a way that is slightly… uncomfortable. Hitler is not portrayed as a sympathetic figure – don’t get me wrong. But he isn’t an evil puppet out for blood from the beginning either. Gretchen sees him as Uncle Dolf, and we get to see him through her eyes as well. The whole time you kind of want to scream at her and demand why she doesn’t see things, but it’s a great example of how people then would have seen him. All the reports say that he was a charismatic speaker and someone who could mesmerize a crowd with his words.
The historical details were great, and I really enjoyed the characters. Gretchen, while sometimes frustratingly naïve, is a likeable character, and I wanted her to succeed. Reinhard was frightening (I’m not saying more than that – don’t want to give anything away!) and Daniel…ah, Daniel. I really loved his character. I liked the romance and I liked that it wasn’t a “love at first sight” moment. It took awhile, and while it was slow to come at first and then moved quickly, I enjoyed it. It felt authentic, especially given their circumstances.
The secondary characters were well thought out, and the way that Blankman has woven fiction in with fact is masterful. You know that “artistic liberties” have been taken, but it doesn’t detract from the history at all. I also enjoyed that there are many plot threads. There’s the one about Gretchen coming into her own and knowing her own mind, finding her place in the world. There’s her relationship with Hitler and how that changes. Her family dynamics, her relationship with Daniel, her aspirations (though I must admit, I wanted her to pick something. She was a little too changeable and passive about that one for me), and her relationship with others in her world and outside of it.
Overall, this is a great book for anyone who enjoys historical novels, especially WWII settings. You don’t need any prior knowledge about the history here – all is given over the course of the book. A really great read, and highly recommended.
Where to Find the Book
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/prisoner-of-night-and-fog-anne-blankman/1117005032?ean=9780062278814&itm=1&usri=9780062278814&cm_mmc=AFFILIATES-_-Linkshare-_-GwEz7vxblVU-_-10:1&r=1,%201
Book was purchased by reviewer.