Thursday, April 03, 2014

Review: Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman

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I received this book for free from HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne BlankmanPrisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman
Series: Prisoner of Night and Fog #1
Published by Balzer & Bray on April 22nd 2014
Genres: Historical, Mystery, YA
Source: HarperCollins
Buy on Amazon

In 1930s Munich, danger lurks behind dark corners, and secrets are buried deep within the city. But Gretchen Mรผller, 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 truthโ€”even if it could get her and Daniel killed?

To anyone who thinks research for a book is not worth the time or effort, Prisoner of Night and Fog proves to the contrary. Based on true historical events, Anne has crafted a brilliantly compelling and incredibly authentic story entwined with real historical figures who are given a second breath of life. This is a story of a girl’s desperate search for the truth.

Underneath it all, Prisoner of Night and Fog is a gripping account of Hitler’s rise to power. The plot introduces many real-life characters who were part of Hitler’s entourage or impacted his life in some way. Naturally, fictional characters are also added to the mix to initiate an engaging mystery that, although fictional, is entangled inside real historical events. I may not be a history buff, but it’s clear from the start that immense research went into this novel. The details and specifics give its roots as well as its characters such authenticity. It’s also highly atmospheric; the setting came to life right before my eyes. Not just the setting itself, but the energy of its people as well. The mixture of fear and adoration towards Hitler and his perverted sense of patriotism is, as expected, very unsettling, but he makes for an extraordinary character study. The way he thinks, the way he uses his dark charm to hypnotize others to carry out his psychotic will; it’s morbidly fascinating. Some of the facts used inside this story may not be new to some, but it does bring a lot of characters into play that give us a great insight on his person. The author’s note at the end is also worth a read as she separates fiction used for the plot from the not-so-far-off facts.

With that said, don’t start thinking this is a tedious historical novel full of dull, recounted facts on our world history. These details are woven into an interesting and mysterious plot with such skill that I was constantly craving the next page. This is achieved with the help of a protagonist who is so determined and resilient that you can’t help but love her. With a corrupt family life that is made up of a murdered father, a submissive mother, and a psychotic brother whose empty heart mirrors pure evil – not to mention “Uncle Dolf” himself – we come to understand the root of her cynicism, as well as her fixation on discovering the truth. In the meantime, there’s also some light romance that’s sprinkled throughout with a fearless Jew who shows Gretchen they are not what she was taught to believe. This results in a wonderful forbidden love story which completes it all, really.

The writing is excellent, the characters are either fascinating or likable, and the plot has a constant undercurrent of mystery and menace that propels you to the end. A masterpiece for any historical fan!


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Canadian blogger, wife, mother, coffee lover, and sarcastic at heart! She has had a love for all things bookish since before Amazon and eReaders existed *le gasp*. You can also find her organizing tours and other fun things at Xpresso Book Tours.

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34 Responses to “Review: Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman”

  1. Tara @ The Librarian Who Doesn't Say Shhh!

    I fell in love with this book when I read it and can’t wait to read the next book that will follow. I spent my summer in Munich and was so impressed with Blackwell’s research. She made me feel like I was back in the Odeonsplatz. I also thought her look at Hilter from Gretchen’s point of view was a fascinating parallel to Germany’s own perceptions of Hilter over time — that coming into consciousness. This was a great review, and I’m glad you loved the book!

  2. Nara

    Wow, this book sounds fantastic! I must admit, I haven’t read too many semi-modern historical YA books (I think I read more Victorian/steampunk sort of time period ones), but I really think I should branch out a bit more. Prisoner of Night and Fog seems like a good one to go for. The portrayal of Hitler seems really interesting!

  3. Hollie @ Music, Books and Tea

    I recently discovered this one and thought it sounded amazing, so I’m really pleased you loved it so much! I don’t really read historical fiction, but when I do I generally lean towards WW1 and WW2 books, so this is certainly up my street. I’m definitely going to be getting myself a copy of this one as soon as I can as I really want to experience Blackwell’s writing – it sounds incredible. Fab review!

  4. Maya

    I’ve heard about this but didn’t know what it was about, but now that I do it’s caught my interest! I’ll have to find out more about it… Thanks for the review!

  5. Mara A. @ The Reading Hedgehog

    I am really, really, really looking forward to reading this book. I’m so glad to hear that it’s good and that the Author has put so much time and effort into research! Even if she takes poetic licence; at least she did the research and knew what she was changing.

  6. Alexia @ Adventures in Reading

    I absolutely LOVED this book. Normally I stay away from historical fiction. WW2 and Hitler specifically is the exception. I was so excited to read this book and it didn’t let me down at all. The writing was beautiful and I could see Munich in my mind. One of the best books I’ve ever read and definitely the best historical fiction I’ve ever read. Thrilled you enjoyed this one.

  7. Savannah

    One thing that I capturing me about this book is HISTORY! I love a story that carries true history or a good history/backround telling. Thanks for sharing your great review!

  8. Mary @ BookSwarm

    See, the cover has me thinking that this IS going to be a tedious historical novel. Obviously, I’m mistaken and need to give the book a chance. Don’t get me wrong–I like history but some stories can be so ploddingly dull that it takes all the interest out of the time period and book. *adds to TBR*

  9. Pili

    I’m extremely happy to read such a glowing review of yours for this book, Giselle!
    From the moment I read the synopsis for this book I knew it was something I’d want to read and I kept on hoping it’d be as good as I hoped! Now I’m even more glad than before that I preordered it!

  10. DaydreamerN

    I really was interested in the book until the hitler thing myself. While I’m sure from the review that the book is wonderful and well done I feel like all of these books and movies about hitler are blurring the lines about him. Turning him from a real life horror into a pop culture figure. Now that is not to say that this book didn’t do a good job i’m just saying that it is a rather troubling trend.

  11. Eileen @ Singing and Reading in the Rain

    Haha yeah, the historical aspect of this one was SO cool and I’m obsessed with books that take place during WWII because they kind of just really interest me. But I’m glad you liked this one, the research the author put into this book was actually really intimidating and scary. Haha fantastic review, Giselle! <33

  12. Tori

    I can’t wait to read this book. Thanks for sharing! I’m definitely adding this to my to purchase list ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. Roro

    Soo exited . I’ve always liked historical fiction only I don’t read enough . I like what I hear . ^^

    I loved the review , Giselle

  14. Jeann @ Happy Indulgence

    Wow, 5 stars for this book Giselle, that is fantastic! I’m glad there was a lot of research that went into this novel, it makes it a lot more realistic and believable. It sounds really chilling though. And like a page turner. Thanks for your lovely review!

  15. Melliane

    it’s so interesting to have a book based on true historical events like that. It’s been a while since I read something like that but you’re right it’s always impressive to feel all the researches the author did for it. Thank you for the review, I didn’t know this and I love the cover.

  16. Anatea

    I’ll be reading this one next week, so I’m really happy to see that you rated it 5 stars! The subject of the book sounds really interesting and I’m glad to see that it’s done well. Great review Giselle!

  17. Zoe @ The Infinite To-Read Shelf

    YES! This one has been on my list for a long time, and I’m so glad you enjoyed it as much as you did Giselle! I agree…the concept is definitely fascinating; and it’s awesome to hear that even though most of it is primarily fiction, the events and characters seemed real to you. That’s always a sign of a good historical fiction novel!

    And the storyline sounds right up my alley being a fan of historical fiction novels!

    Thanks so much for sharing Giselle, and, as always, brilliant review! xD

  18. Emily

    I’m so glad you enjoyed this one so much too, Giselle! ๐Ÿ˜€ It makes me so happy that you loved it because I did too! :3 The historical aspect was so solid, and like you said, Hitler’s characterization was done so well! And this definitely like you said, this isn’t some dry Historical novel, but it is one that will suck you in! ๐Ÿ˜€
    Fantastic review, Giselle!! <33

  19. Jessica @ Rabid Reads

    Wow, this sounds great Giselle. And it would have bounced right off my radar otherwise b/c I did write it off as a dull historical fiction. Excellent review! I’m happy to be wrong ๐Ÿ˜‰

  20. Amy @ Book Loving Mom

    Though I am not a huge historical fan, I do enjoy them when done well. I am glad the this was well researched and it made the book so good. I am looking forward to this one! I should be starting it next week I think. Fab review babe!

  21. Vi

    Hmm, I originally wouldn’t give this a second thought because I’m not all that into historical fiction, but I’m loving the mystery aspect. And great characters?! I must check it out!

  22. Bonnie

    This is the 2nd 5 star review for this I’ve seen today! I’ll be picking this one up soon and now I’m extremely excited.