Thursday, April 17, 2014

Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman

Prisoner of Night and Fog
by Anne Blankman
Read: April 2 - 9, 2014
Published: April 22, 2014 by Balzer + Bray
Source: Edelweiss (Thank you, HarperCollins!)
Category: YA, historical fiction, Hitler, Germany 1930s

Series: Prisoner of Night and Fog #1
Find: Goodreads | 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.

Prisoner of Night and Fog is exactly why I love historical fiction. The story fascinated me so much that I kept going online to look up the characters and time period while I was reading, because I wanted to learn more. In fact, all but a handful of the characters in this book were real people. But this story also completely frightened me. In many ways, it was scarier than reading a book categorized as horror, because this evil was real. 

Prisoner of Night and Fog takes place in 1931 in Munich, Germany near the beginning of Hitler's conquest. And unlike most book villains, we know he won't be vanquished at the end of this story. It won't be for almost 15 more years before Hitler is defeated in 1945, and already his influence is trickling out in an increasingly wider arc. Germans struggling to survive after their WWI defeat are desperate for relief, and willing to believe whatever he tells them, including that Jews are to blame for their troubles. What's even scarier is how many people are able to ignore the details of his message, in favor of his promises. 

Gretchen Müller's father fought with Adolf Hitler in the last war, only to become a hero when he died saving Hitler's life in an event that took place 8 years ago. Since then Gretchen and her mother and brother have been protected by the National Socialist Party (NAZI). Gretchen trust and admires Hitler, whom she calls "Uncle Dolf," and he dotes equally on her. She sees him as the savior of her family, and believes in his mission. That is until she meets Daniel Cohen, a reporter for an anti-NAZI newspaper and Jew. Daniel tells Gretchen that the events of her father's death may not be what they seem. Meeting Daniel, and then seeing other cracks in the world view she's always held, causes Gretchen to start questioning everything she's been taught to believe. 

Even so, it takes Gretchen sometime to work her way out from Hitler's influence. It was tough to watch her struggle through that, especially watching from a future history perspective and knowing what many of these characters would become. But I felt sympathy for Gretchen from the beginning, and a whole lot of fear as she begins to drop the rose colored view of her life, and face what is really happening in her city. But I also very much came to admire her desire for truth and unwillingness to give up. 

One of the elements in this book that both surprised me, and I very much enjoyed, was exploring the psychology of Hitler. Psychoanalysis was a big movement in the early 1930s and a lot of doctors tried to figure out Hitler's personality. Seeing him and other characters through this light was chilling. Apparently, Hitler surrounded himself at with a lot of people who were similar to him, and one of them was the second villain in this book, who was just as scary, and in some ways more dangerous to Gretchen. 

The romance between Gretchen and Daniel is sweet. Although I wish we'd gotten to know Daniel a little better, I really liked him as a counter to Gretchen. He is self assured and determined to speak the truth. Through his example and the way he challenges her, Gretchen begins to make decisions about her own beliefs.  The resolution/revelation of the mystery that Daniel and Gretchen set out to uncover wasn't a completely surprise, but the process by which Gretchen gets there made for a great story. 

Prisoner of Night and Fog is part of a series, but thankfully, this book ends in a settled place. Even still, it's hard to feel peace for these characters, knowing the events they will have to weather in the future. But I know that neither Gretchen nor Daniel will stop fighting, and I can't wait for more of their story. The end of this book does give a sense of where the next one will begin, and it will continue to incorporate real events and people. 

Love Triangle Factor: None
Cliffhanger Scale: Low - part of a series. Next book picks up at a specific point a bit later, which you will find out when you finish this one. 


  1. I'm so glad you enjoyed this book as much as I did, Lauren. I was absolutely fascinated by the portrayal of Hitler and the real characters too. I was actually pretty shocked to realize that most of these characters actually existed in real life in the notes section at the end of the book and I think like you said, it made it even more terrifying. I just can't imagine what life was at a time like that.
    I also wish we got to know Daniel a little better, but yes, the romance was really sweet and Gretchen was a fantastic character.
    I have to say that I'm so worried about what's going to happen next in this series. I'm going to have to mentally prepare myself before the next book comes out because it's not going to be good.
    Great review, Lauren!

  2. I have read so many great reviews for this book Lauren, so I'm so happy to see that you were a huge fan too. I really can't wait to see how Blankman brings this story to life. Also I didn't even know that this book was part of a series, I hope the rest of the books live up to your expectations! Fab review!

  3. I haven't read this one but I know that I HAVE to. The setting is creepy enough but to have a character who is so close to a mass murderer, someone who kills for a cause he believes is just...*shudder* Intriguing how she begins to see the cracks in her world and in those around her.

  4. "Prisoner of Night and Fog is exactly why I love historical fiction."
    ^ Yes, me too!

    I also enjoyed exploring the psychology of Hitler. It fascinating seeing him through the eyes of Gretchen. I agree that the romance was sweet. Great review! :)

  5. I'm really excited for this one Lauren! I'm always fascinated by stories that have a more psychological aspect to them, they're always the most terrifying for me and I find myself thinking about them well after I've closed the back cover. I didn't realize this was going to be a series, but I'm SO glad to hear that there's no cliffhanger waiting for me at the end. Yay for it wrapping up nicely but still managing to promise more in the next book. Beautiful review my friend!

  6. Great review sweetie. <3 I'm very happy that you ended up loving this book. I rated it a three star; as I had a few more issues with it. I just didn't think it was evil enough (A) I wanted it to be even more evil. Agh. Which might be a tiny bit wrong of me, hih. But I also thought it was a bit heartbreaking. Hated her brother so much. Sigh. Anyway. Thank you for sharing. <3 I'm excited for the sequel as well :)

  7. Not a big historical fan, but I just love the sound of this and everyone's so amazed by this book as well. So happy that you enjoyed, love! "I'm so glad you're loving these and yay for shockers :D It's great when books aren't predictable and manage to surprise you every now and then. Sorry Dazed wasn't as amazing as Torn, but I'm glad you still enjoyed the companion." -- THIS is intriguing :D I mean.. Hitler is so charismatic that it'd take a while for anyone to get out from his influence so I'm not blaming Gretchen. And wow! Multiple villains? Me likes. I'm so glad that you loved the romance :) Can't wait to tackle this pretty.

  8. For some reason, I felt absolutely zero inclination to pick this up after receiving it in the mail. No idea why. Either way, I've been reading so many positive reviews for this one recently that I definitely need to pick it up soon. It seems chilling - at least the way Hitler is portrayed in this - and the romance is the type that seems rewarding and sure to win over my heart. Lovely review, Lauren - I'll be bumping this up my TBR for sure. :)

  9. I don't read too much historical fiction that's not paranormal (I can only think of one recent one, A Mad, Wicked Folly) but this one did catch my eye and I added it to my TBR list. Glad to hear that you enjoyed it, although I didn't realize it was part of a series…at least it doesn't have a cliffhanger ending! ~Pam

  10. Great review, Lauren! I'm already getting the chills just thinking about the historical facts behind the story. I can't wait to read it for myself. This should be one of those series that is love triangle free and that we'll hopefully love the whole way through. :)

    Have you read Night by Elie Wiesel? It's a memoir about Wiesel's time in the Nazi concentration camps - probably the most powerful book I've ever read.

  11. I am SO SO happy you loved this one as much as I did! I used to love historical, but now it's a hit or miss for me and YES for this. I completely agree, the psychology of Hitler was one of my FAVORITE aspects of this. The antagonists were so well-done and I loved the analysis of them...especially since Hitler was REAL. Great review!

  12. I don't read a lot of historical fiction, but I am really curious about this one. It may be just too real for me to handle.

  13. This is not my usual genre. In fact, I don't think I've ever read historical fiction. But for some reason I'm just so drawn to this book. I'm thinking I may have to keep and open mind and give it a try. I've seen so many reviews like yours that say it's incredible. I think I owe myself at least a chance to enjoy this type of book. :) Great review!

  14. Oh yay! I'm so happy to hear that you loved this one :) I'm a huge historical fiction fan so this was already on my radar, but I like having your stamp of approval on it, too. So glad you mentioned the psychology of Hitler aspect of the book - that sounds fascinating and makes me even more interested in reading this sooner rather than later.

  15. I am so excited to read this one! I also love historical fiction for very similar reasons to you, although I also see how it can be scary to read about atrocities that really did happen. And I didn't know this was part of a series. Interesting. I wonder if the series will end with Hitler's death? Anyway, glad you enjoyed this one so much, Lauren!


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