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.Prisoner 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
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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?
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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