Title: Prisoner of Night and Fog

Series: Prisoner of Night and Fog, Book One

Author: Anne Blankman ♥ @AnneBlankman

Expected Publication:
April 22, 2014

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/ HarperCollins

Pages: 416

Genre(s): Historical ♥ Young Adult ♥ Romance

Source: Edelweiss

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.

Average Goodreads Rating (as of 04/01/2014): 4.22

  • Christina thought this title was wholly captivating. It goes on her TOP shelf.

**SPECIAL NOTE:** An eARC of this title was provided by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. However, that did not influence this review in any way. All thoughts, quotes, and opinions will be of this version and not of the published edition.

“How Hitler had smiled when he set his drained cup down. The boy’s life snuffed out by the night and the fog, while his father watches but sees nothing. He laughed. This is how we shall make our enemies disappear, too, one day.
~quote taken from the eARC of Prisoner of Night and Fog at 44%

Initial Thoughts and Rating: 4.5 stars! Prisoner of Night and Fog is an enriching expedition, taking the reader on a journey back in time to experience firsthand such a monumental point in our world’s history and giving us an inside look of one of the world’s most lethal man’s inner circle on his rise to fame. The author chose to approach such a well-known villain’s story differently, masterfully crafting this plot by weaving in a few fictitious characters and situations  to keep the reader enticed while sticking very closely to the facts of how Hitler managed to capture the attention of an entire nation. This novel was wonderfully done, and, for a history nerd like myself, I gobbled up every word.

The Lowdown: This isn’t the Adolf Hitler story or testimonies layered with hatred over the cruelty of his actions that you’ll find in your history textbooks. Narrated in third person point-of-view, we get a different side of the coin connected to Hitler’s life story, told through the eyes and witnessed accounts of seventeen-year-old Gretchen Müller. You see, Gretchen is the daughter of the martyred patron who saved Hitler’s life in the putsch, as well as fought alongside him in the trenches during World War I. This had earned the Müllers Hitler’s favor, and so he became Gretchen’s “Uncle Dolf” and she became his “beloved sunshine,” lighting his way in such a dark world. But a chance encounter with a Jew reporter named Daniel Cohen casts doubt on the faithful events that happened on the day of the putsch. As Gretchen and Daniel dig deeper into the mystery surrounding her father’s death, they grow closer and Gretchen soon finds herself wondering about not only the events leading to her father’s untimely demise, but also questioning the very beliefs about Jews and purifying Germany that she’s been taught to believe her entire life.

This first installment of the Prisoner of Night and Fog trilogy comes loaded with a powerful punch. It’s the heart-racing journey of girl on the verge of womanhood who’s finally had the blinders removed from her eyes to see her beloved leader for the man he really is, and about her choosing which path she wants to set herself on. It’s a dangerous road to travel and, as time will surely tell, you don’t want to be on the opposing team of Hitler.

My Thoughts: This was such an invigorating tale! At this point, I’ve written this section of my review over a dozen times and I’m getting a little frustrated because I can’t seem to capture my thoughts in a favorable light to completely express my utter adoration of Blankman’s debut novel. I have so much to say and not the right words in which to say them. Yet, I must try.

I knew with absolute certainty this was a book that I’d have to get my hands on once I read the synopsis. Though it started out a tad slowly for me, it wasn’t long before I was enamored by the storyline, easily transported back in time to a politically torn Munich setting and held captivated by this thrilling journey of a girl manipulated by one of the world’s most hated men. Blankman took such a notable period in history and perfectly inserted her work of fiction into it, seamlessly intertwining the two until it was hard to pick out the parts that were blurred together– even for an admitted history junkie like myself.  Prisoner of Night and Fog truly has something for every reader to grasp on to: history, forbidden romance, murder-mystery, psychoanalysis of a crazed tyrant, politics, wonderful character development, and infuses it all with such a rich prose that you can’t help but to mesmerized page after page. Even if you didn’t read the Author’s Note at the end of the book, it’s undeniably noticeable that Blankman put her history degree to good use and that she thoroughly researched her work before giving a detailed account of that time.

Often when you think of Hitler, your automatic association is to think of the Holocaust and the millions of innocent lives trapped in concentration camps and their days upon days of persecution. However, this story is told from a side you don’t often hear about, Hitler’s inner circle. Due to Blankman’s storytelling , it was easy to imagine how his charm and intelligence so effortlessly influenced a nation and its people, especially when they were looking for someone- anything, really- to blame for their rapidly declining economic system. His campaign was to bring people out of suffering, and the Jews were a scapegoat, but his propaganda for their eradication was never outright spoken about in the early days, only the undertone of his speeches. So, what made Gretchen’s story so intriguing was being able to follow along as she made the transition from star-struck golden child of position all the way down to a lowly “blood traitor” because she simply refused to submit to the lies she was being fed for so long. Her journey was a fulfilling one, and though her romance with Daniel was never a key element in this book until later on, I think it was believable and only enriched the novel further.

Special Note: With a book like this, one surrounding such a delicate subject for many, I can understand why readers would be hesitant to pick this novel up. However, I  think is worth mentioning that this first installment only deals with the years in which Hitler is campaigning for office and hasn’t been elected yet. While I’m sure that the road ahead with the final two books deals with the more troubling times usually surrounding Hitler’s presence, this novel can be read as a complete stand-alone, and I think it’s satisfying one at that.

Swoons: Daniel was quite the charismatic character when Gretchen finally opened up to him. I really liked him.

Swoony Teaser:

“Am I still surprising you?” she asked.

     “Yes,” he said. “And I have never been gladder of anything in my life.”

Then he cradled her face gently, touching her so tenderly she could scarcely breathe, and brought his face to hers until their lips met in a kiss that burned her mouth.
~quote taken from the eARC of Prisoner of Night and Fog at 58%

Rec It? I would be hesitant to recommend it to everyone even though its such a compelling read. It was easy for me to be swept up in this story filled with such undeniable historical presence, romance, mystery, and betrayal, but I don’t think it would appeal to every reader. However, if you love historical romance heavily rooted in truths of years long gone, definitely pick up this title. If you’re still a bit skeptical, I’d say it’s absolutely worth a try to see if it’s your cup of tea. You may find yourself surprised.

I know for myself, I can’t wait to continue on in this world, though the course ahead is sure to be an emotional ride. The second installment is set to pick up in 1933 when Hitler is named Germany’s newest chancellor.

♥ A very special thanks to Balzer+Bray/HarperCollins and Edelweiss for providing me with an early copy of this title in exchange for an honest review.

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