Thursday, April 24, 2014

Review: Prisoner of Night and Fog

Prisoner of Night and Fog (Prisoner of Night and Fog, #1)Author: Anne Blankman
Series: Prisoner of Night and Fog
Published: April 22nd 2014
Publisher: Balzer & Bray
Format: Hardcover, 416 pgs
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: Amazon

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.
For decades since the World War II, the name Adolf Hitler has been synonymous with monster all over the world. But to 17-year-old Gretchen Muller, Adolf Hitler is simply Uncle Dolf, protector, substitute father, a great leader and a kind, gentle man. If he wasn’t, why would Gretchen’s own father jump in front of a bullet to protect him? Why would this somewhat strange Austrian take Gretchen’s entire family under his wing?

We must keep in mind that Blankman portrays Germany in 1931, before the Third Reich, when Hitler’s intentions were still hidden behind clever rhetoric and only those closest to him had any inkling of the monster he truly was. Beatings and political assassinations were done covertly, and this young girl had nothing but the word of a trusted family friend to help form her opinion of the world.

The Gretchen we meet at the beginning of this story is a follower, a brainwashed creature, Hitler’s golden pet. Even though she wishes to become a doctor, she isn’t used to thinking for herself because, as Hitler likes to point out, a young girl’s brain is like wax, soft and pliable, ready to be shaped at any man’s will. But as things around her stop making sense and even her father’s heroic death comes into question, Gretchen has no choice but to discover the very dangerous truth and find her own independence in the process.

Through it all, she is accompanied by the most unlikely of allies, a young Jewish journalist named Daniel Cohen. All her life, Gretchen’s been taught that Jews are filthy, evil and subhuman, but there Daniel is, kind, smart, outspoken and entirely too pleasant to be anything but a real, warm human being, just like Gretchen herself. As the two form a very tentative friendship, Gretchen starts seeing the world through her own eyes for the very first time, and she is terrified of what she sees.

The Prisoner of Night and Fog is an extensively researched novel. In fact, not many novels come with an author’s note and a bibliography attached. Having done the research myself once upon a time, I am quite familiar with pre-WWII German history, and Anne Blankman did her job well. Everything from German educational system to the personalities of Hitler’s elite is accurate and well presented.

On top of it all, Blankman explores psychopathic personality disorder, not only through Hitler, but through Gretchen’s brother Reinhart as well. It is easy to see how people like Reinhart became The Fuhrer’s most trusted soldiers, following age-old rule that like calls to like.

Even those with superficial knowledge of the time period will easily recognize the impossibility of Gretchen’s situation, the slim chances of survival for her and Daniel both. It is almost impossible to see a satisfactory ending for these characters, knowing what we know of Hitler’s rise to power. Blankman counted on this feeling of dread that inevitably rises and used it to this story’s best advantage. The end result is one of the best books I’ve read in ages, with the potential to win both prizes and the hearts of readers everywhere.

A copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher for review purposes. No considerations, monetary or otherwise, have influnced the opinions expressed in this review.


  1. I loved the mystery about Hitler and Gretchen's brother. Other than that, this book was a bit of a snooze for me, maybe because I wasn't a fan of the writing? Anyway, I'm glad you enjoyed it more than I did! I could definitely see the work Blankman put into this one as well. :)

  2. Maja, I'm so glad you enjoyed this one as much as you did! For some reason, I assumed that the reviews for this would be similar to those for Sekret, which seems to be a love-hate type of novel, but this debut definitely has received a lot of love, so I'll have to break into my ARC soon! Wonderful review, dearest!(:

  3. Maja, I'm so happy to hear you loved this one as much as I did. I adored the amount of detail that the author went into in the book. I felt like I was there experiencing everything that Gretchen was. And I truly appreciated the amount of research that Anne Blankman put. Her characterization of Hitler and Reinhard were absolutely enthralling. I can't wait to see what the author comes up with next in the series.
    Lovely review, Maja!
    I hope you're feeling much better now.

  4. Maja this has been on my list, but your beautiful review has pushed me into buying it! I love the time period and the writing and depth sounds amazing :)

  5. Gorgeous review Maja! I want to read this one so bad. I know I need to make time for it as soon as I can, there are way too many glowing reviews of this one to ignore.

  6. Daniel does sound very pleasant and fun to be around

  7. Now that I've read your review and see the rating you've given it, I'm even more excited to start reading it properly! It's gonna be one of my reads for this weekend for sure!
    Fantastic review, Maja!

  8. I can't wait to read this one. It sounds brilliant and terrifying at the same time. Marvelous review, Maja!

  9. Wow, wonderful review! I really want to read this one. I need to grab a copy as soon as I can. I find that time period fascinating and I like the unique perspective this book takes.

  10. I am starting this today. I am so fascinated by this time period. I read before the blog, In the Garden of the Beasts, very fascinating. So glad you loved this one. I have got to email you about Apocalypse. Headed on a girls weekend will do it on Monday :)

  11. It sounds interesting. Poor girl, not her fault she was brainwashed

  12. Fabulous review. This sounds like such a great book, and every review I have read has been glowing. Thanks for sharing :)

  13. I loved how well-researched this one was too, but just couldn't connect completely with Gretchen for some reason. I did think it was a solid read however, and will be picking up book 2.

  14. Love your review Maja :P I'm pretty sure I'm addicted to them now. I love the sound of this book, a must-buy for me!

    Angel @ Spare Reads

  15. Wow that sounds intense - but you know I've never been fond of War novels especially historical ones. I think it's because I've never been a fan of history and sometimes when reading historical fictions that really try to add a lot of facts in there always ends up feeling like a history lesson to me. But marvelous that you found it so moving!
    Great review - gorgeous cover! I'll have to tell my historical reading friend about this one.

  16. I cannot wait to read this one, I love the historical aspect of it, so exciting.

  17. I have heard so much about this book! I am glad that you liked it. I am looking forward to reading it!

  18. I adored this book :) Gretchen was a great character, I like her developed relationship with Daniel & I loved the historical aspect of this book. It was obvious that she did her research (which was fun to read in the bibliography) Great review :)

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