I received this book free from Edelweiss 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 Fiction, Romance
Also by this author: Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke
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.
‘The box she had carefully constructed about herself would fall apart. And she didn’t know if she could bear standing out in the open, in the harsh wind, without the comforting warmth of those walls she had built to shut out everything she didn’t like or understand.’
In the early 1930’s, Hitler’s rise to power as the undisputed leader of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party continues. The country is in ruin after the financial crisis and the people were drawn to the promise of changes that Hitler vowed to make as soon as he’s elected Chancellor of Germany. He has up until now kept his true intentions for the Jewish people hidden under a thick coat of gloss, but the truth is starting to come out bit by bit. Gretchen Müller grew up knowing nothing but love for ‘Uncle Adolf’ after her father died preventing an assassination attack on Hitler. When new information is brought to her attention that her father’s death isn’t all as it appears, everything she has ever believed has to be reevaluated.
‘He had said his opponents were flung cross every corner of the city, barely discernible, like a spiderweb-until you tossed water on the gossamer net and there your opponents were, glistening like diamonds, brilliantly bright and unmistakable.’
Gretchen Müller’s beliefs in the National Socialist Party run deep, yet her father’s death hit her hard and she still misses him dearly. Her continued suffering over his loss manages to be the chink in her belief system and when a young Jewish reporter named Daniel Cohen approaches her about the possibility that his death was actually murder, everything in her life begins to crumble. The historical detailing was at times excessive but really manages to set the scene well. It’s clear that the time period was well-researched and it all felt authentic despite the obvious fictional additions. While I didn’t see the likelihood of a Jewish reporter taking the chance to approach Hitler’s ‘golden-girl’, I did feel that Gretchen’s change of mind as she uncovers more evidence of her father’s murder was genuine and believable.
The murder mystery was hands down the best part of this novel. There were scenes of gripping intensity when Gretchen and Daniel would creep through the shadows to uncover necessary information to expose her father’s murderer. The personal scenes between Gretchen and Hitler were chilling and while I have read many books regarding this time period, I had yet to read one where Hitler has a starring role, showing his disturbing nature clearly. Also frightening was Gretchen’s ghastly brother who shared many characteristics of Hitler himself. A warning to you animal lovers, there is a severely heartbreaking scene that I wish I was able to mentally prepare for.
My one disappointment was the romance. While I’m all for a good forbidden love story, and this one was certainly forbidden, I didn’t feel the feels, unfortunately. Their love isn’t instantaneous, however, I felt we learned much more about Gretchen and not enough about Daniel to get properly attached to his character. Gretchen’s feelings regarding Daniel felt clunky and while I would normally expect this considering her ingrained beliefs towards Jews, it felt like her change of heart came far too quickly.
View Spoiler »Add in the fact that the ‘I love you’s’ came FAR too soon. « Hide Spoiler
The complete lack of interest in the romance managed to throw a wrench in the entire story for me but thankfully there was an incredibly interesting murder mystery for me to follow instead. Prisoner of Night and Fog is a fantastic look into the time period from the unaccustomed German perspective. Witnessing Hitler’s rise in power was especially disheartening as we all already know of what’s to come. The ending sets up the next book nicely and I’m interested to see how the author continues handling this historical time period.