Prisoner of Night & Fog

Zoe N. | April 14, 2014 | Review

Prisoner of Night & Fog

Prisoner of Night and Fog

by Anne Blankman

Genre: YA Historical Fiction
Published: April 22nd, 2014
by Bazler + Bray

three-half-stars

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Summary:

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?

Review:

For so long she had believed in Hitler’s lies, seeing shadows where there should have been light.
Not anymore. Not ever again.

Prisoner of Night and Fog is one of my most anticipated reads for 2014 – maybe even the most anticipated read of the year for me – and I am happy to say that it does not disappoint.

Anne Blankman weaves together a tale about a young girl named Gretchen Müller, a girl who has grown up under the wing of her adoptive “Uncle” Dolf, who happens to be none other than Adolf Hitler himself. Gretchen believes and takes to heart everything he says. Yet, when she meets a handsome Jewish reporter named Daniel and eventually falls in love with him, Gretchen realizes that everything she thought she knew has been a lie.

One of the best aspects of Prisoner of Night and Fog is the research behind it. Just from reading the story, the massive amount of time Blankman has put into researching this story is quite evident. Each little detail is inserted into the story with pinpoint accuracy, from the details about Hitler’s rise to power to simply the atmosphere of Gretchen’s small German town, and as someone who loves history I absolutely ate it up. Even more clever is the way Blankman manages to hide small historical references within the story (like cleverly making Gretchen’s best friend Eva Braun).

Gretchen is a character that is strong and believable. She starts off as Hitler’s pet, his golden girl: naïve, trusting, dutiful; but by the end of the story she is someone entirely different. She became someone who stuck up for what she believed was right, and actively tried to fix what wasn’t.

One of the book’s flaws, however, is the romance.  Daniel and Gretchen meet and fall in love; yet for some reason I never truly felt any true sparks behind them. I really liked the concept of their romance – a Jew and Hitler’s golden girl falling in love is quite a unique idea for a forbidden romance – but, unfortunately, I never truly felt the connection between them.

In the end, I felt the concept was a bit stronger than the execution. The writing was a bit dull and monotonous throughout, but I was fully engrossed in the story and the wonderfully researched historical aspects regardless, and am definitely excited to see what happens to Gretchen in the sequel.

three-half-stars

56 comments

  1. I don’t know if I’d pick up on a lot of the historical elements, but I love that they are there and it felt real. I really want to read this one too. I find books about WWII and the Holocaust to be really fascinating, and this one has such a unique premise.

    1. I’m a huge history buff (especially for WW2), so that was definitely one of the highlights for me!

      I agree. They’re so terrifying, yet fascinating; and this one certainly has a pretty original storyline! 😀

  2. I know you LOVED this one but i’m a bit weary of it since I’m not sure it’s up my alley. I do tend to sometimes like historical fiction novels but i feel like anything related to Hitler would make me want to throw up every other page. Even a book like this because it wouldn’t stop be from cringing. I do love the fact that this book did it for you and who knows maybe one day i’ll find the courage to read it *crosses fingers*
    Lily

    1. Yeah, I can definitely see how you might be wary of it especially if you’re not a huge historical fiction fan. I thought so too, but the way Blankman writes him almost makes him…humanized I guess? It’s fascinating to see – she creates so many sides to him – the loving uncle, the charismatic speaker, but also the morbid killer.

      *crosses fingers with you* 😀

  3. Hitler was such an interesting character. I like how we see the maniac, the leader and the charming Uncle Dolf at the same time. The story also felt very realistic, so it was obvious that the author did her research 🙂

    1. I agree! It was certainly a great character study! I’ve always wondered how that many people would be willing to join the Nazis (surely not everyone lost their sense of right and wrong), but Blankman definitely justifies it with Hitler’s charisma and eloquence in public speaking; and it makes it so much more believable.

      Thanks for sharing your opinion Mel! <3

  4. I need this book in my life! (: It’s actually on my e-book right now and I’m so excited to dive in. I adore historical fiction, especially when it’s done well. There’s been a lot of good things said about this one so I have high hopes.

    Ahhh, I’m so glad to hear that this one was spot on with historical accuracy and detailing c: OMG THE MAIN CHARACTER IS BEST FRIEND’S WITH EVA BRAUN!? I wasn’t even aware of that detail until now. It’s certainly gonna result in conflict. I’m glad that the main character provided an likeable narration and was strong. I also enjoy that Hitler wasn’t perceived as simply evil. It’s good that the author went deeper into his actual personality.

    Lovely review! <33

    1. If you’re a fan of historical fiction, I have a feeling you’ll love this one!

      I KNOW! ISN’T THAT LIKE GENIUS ON ANNE’S PART? Haha…conflict awaits! I have a feeling it’s going to be all Code Name Verity – ish! And yes! I loved the character development in Hitler as well! I was so glad Anne simply wasn’t, “And then he was evil…”, but, rather, we see all different sides of him and we learn about how he became who he was.

      Thank you Larissa! <3

  5. Wow Zoe, that was such an insightful and delight to read. I wasn’t aware about Prisoner of Night and Fog before, but now I really want to read it. I’m more of an ancient history person, but I do enjoy the occasional WW2 read. This sounds like one that I will definitely enjoy. Thank you so much for sharing and putting this on my radar xx

    1. Awww…thanks Joy! You’re so sweet! <3

      So glad it sounds up your ally though - even if you're more into ancient history, I feel you'll still probably enjoy this one.

      No problem! Thank YOU for always leaving the loveliest comments! 😀

  6. This sounds absolutely brilliant Zoe, I can’t wait to get stuck into mine. The mixture of the factual and fictional couldn’t have been easy, but sounds as though it was beautifully woven throughout. It sounds a little like Marie Antoinette Serial Killer, which I really enjoyed. Fantastic review, makes me want to start reading it now!

    1. Yeah! Glad it sounds up your alley Kelly! 😀

      It’s definitely a sign of really good research on Anne’s part. I haven’t read Marie Antoinette Serial Killer yet, but I just read your review and it sounds awesome! Definitely adding it to my TBR list!

      Thank you Kelly! 😀 Let me know what you think, okay? 😉

  7. I LOVE The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas and Code Name Verity SO I MUST ABSOLUTELY READ THIS! I never really thought about this one, but honestly I absolutely need it now. x) This is what you do to me, Zoe?!! You make me need to read all these books. XD

  8. Ack. Amazing review. And I love that quote! Sounds like such an amazing romance. <3 I'm finally going to try reading my eARC of this book today 🙂 Thank you for sharing. <3
    Thank you so much for commenting on my blog. <3
    Love, Carina @ Carina’s Books

    1. Aww…thank you Carina! It definitely is!
      Thank you for the lovely comment! <3
      No problem! I'm part of the Bloggers Commenting Back group, so I'm more than happy to comment on your blog! Only fair, right? 😉

  9. Great review! I’m so glad you enjoyed this one. It would have been terrible if your most anticipated read of the year let you down. I’m not a history buff in the least but I enjoy historical fiction and look forward to learning more about this time period.

    1. Thank you so much!
      Yeah…that would have stunk! 😉
      It’s definitely a fascinating – if not terrifying – time period, so I can’t wait to see what you think!

  10. I’ve steered away from this book because I knew it was about the Holocaust. It’s rare for me to read anything about that era in our history simply because it’s such a horrible thing to think about. But, looking at your review and knowing I absolutely loved The Book Thief I feel myself being swayed (;

    It sure to be interesting to see a girls point of view of Hitler when she’s clerly so close to him even if it’s fictional. That’s probably the main part that’s made me hesitant to even add this to my tbr list.

    More than the forbidden love, which sounds awesome!, is the relationship with her mother and brother. I know you mentioned it only a little but they have me intrigued especially her brother. I wonder what’s happening there.

    Thanks for getting me interested in a book I otherwise would have ignored. Awesome review!

    1. I definitely don’t blame you – it’s certainly a very horrifying time in history. But I’m glad that you’re convinced! 😀

      It’s definitely fascinating. I can definitely see how it might steer people away, but I will say, this is before he’s even elected into the German government (he’s still campaigning), so nothing necessarily devastating happens…at least in this installment – I’m not sure about Books 2 & 3 though…

      Thank you for the lovely comment! <3

    1. Yeah…I have a feeling you wouldn’t like it since I know you’re more of a paranormal / fantasy reader. Thanks! 😀

  11. I’m with you-I have been so excited for this one ever since I read the synopsis. Talk about unique! It’s great to hear that it met your expectations for the most part. Sounds perfect expect for the pacing. I shall have to persevere because I am loving the sound of the rest of the book!

    1. Definitely unique, right? 😀
      Yeah…the pacing was pretty much the only downfall, but it wasn’t too bad, but the rest of the book definitely makes up for it!

  12. EEP! I AM SO HAPPY YOU LIKE THIS ONE! It’s been one onf my most anticipated reads too! Still haven’t gotten my little hands on it, but it’s close to the release datE!! :DD

  13. oh yes I saw this book a couple of time last week and I confess it intrigued me. The cover is really beautiful and the reviews are nice. I’m curious to discover this book. Thanks for the nice review!

    1. Yeah! Glad it looks appealing Melliane! 😀 The cover is beautiful, isn’t it?!
      Thank you for the lovely comment! <3

  14. I really need to read this one as soon as I can. I love the historical subject used here. Hitler was someone feared, and yet among his peers, he was well-respected, to the point that he swayed people to join his cause. He’s evil, yes, he did many bad things, yes, but there must be something about him that made people follow his every bidding, and I’m glad this book shows a bit about that.

    Lovely review, Zoe!

    1. Yeah! Glad this sounds up your alley Faye! There’s so many layers to him, and I love how this book went into detail about every single one – the good, the bad, and the ugly. It truly is morbidly fascinating!

      Thank you Faye! <3

    1. It definitely has some cons, but, in the end, I feel the pros definitely overweighed the cons. I definitely don’t blame you – it’s certainly a very horrifying time in history, but let me know if you end up reading it. I truly is fascinating! 😀

      Thank you! <3

  15. You will probably be horrified to know that I have The Book Thief AND Code Name Verity, and have read neither of them. Sigh . . . I want to, I just never seem to get around to it. And now I’ll have to add this one too. It sounds great, and I’m sure I’d like it (just like I’m sure I’d like the other two). Gretchen sounds like a great MC, and I can’t imagine Hitler being anything else but morbidly fascinating–schadenfreude, and all that 😉 Lovely review, Zoe!

    1. Tsk tsk Jessica! What are you waiting for?! You’re definitely missing out! 😉 Just kidding…but seriously though… I’m glad they sound up your alley! She’s definitely a great protagonist! “Morbidly fascinating–schadenfreude!” 😉

      Thank you Jessica! <3

  16. This seems like such a great story and the rave reviews make me so intrigued. I’m so glad you enjoyed the characters and the romance—that’s totally my cup of tea 🙂

    1. It definitely has gotten quite a few good reviews, hasn’t it? The characters and the romance were PHENOMENAL, so if that sounds like your cup of tea, by all means, get yourself a copy ASAP!

  17. Ahh, I can’t tell you how great it is to see so many people enjoying this book! I read it last year and was thoroughly impressed. I love it when it’s obvious that an authors done their research. The romance was sweet, too.

    Great review! 🙂

    1. Yeah! So glad you enjoyed it too Renu! It’s awesome to see how research pays off isn’t it? I could definitely see that Anne spent a great amount of time researching the topic, and it obviously paid off. And I agree…the romance was just the sweetest!

      Thank you! <3

  18. I apparently never even read what this was about! It sounds exactly like something I would love and I’m adding it to my wishlist right now! It sounds AMAZING!

    1. Yeah! Glad it sounds like something up your alley Candace! Let me know if you end up getting a copy and what you think!

  19. We felt so similarly about this one! 🙂 I’m glad you enjoyed it, Zoe. I don’t know very much about this period of time, during Hitler’s rise, as I do about the Holocaust, but I still appreciated the historical detail and research that went into this. It made me want to look things up myself, and I always love when a book can do that. Hopefully the sequel will be just as good, if not even better! 🙂

    1. I read your review (it was excellent BTW!) and I’m so glad we feel so similarly! Yeah, I’m the same. I know a lot about the Holocaust / WWII but not the years leading up to it; but, from what I do know, this was spot-on.

      Hopefully! I’m crossing my fingers! xD

  20. I’m so glad to hear you loved this book as much as I did! I feel the same way about WWII-era stories, and Anne did impressive research for this one. I adored how she explored the psychology of Hitler and his followers – since it’s so obvious that Hitler is crazy, it was fascinating to see Gretchen slowly come to realize that as well. I also appreciated that Hitler isn’t the main villain – Gretchen’s brother terrified me even more than her Uncle Dolf! I need another book from Anne Blankman ASAP.

    1. SOOO glad you liked this too Emily! <3 The research was definitely impressive - I agree - and the physiology and depth in Hitler character-wise was one of my favorite parts. Yes...Reinhard was REALLY scary, wasn't he?!

      Hopefully Book 2 will be just as good! *crosses fingers*

  21. I want to read this book SO bad! I’ve heard a lot of great things about it. I’m definitely going to have to check it out when it comes into my library. I’m also really big on history, and anything about the WWII-era interests me because I don’t feel it’s an era that’s explored enough.

    1. If you’re into history – specifically WWII era – this is definitely something you should check out Sydney! It’s definitely a fragile time in history, and, I agree, it’s not explored as much as it should be in my opinion – especially in YA literature, so it’s great that this is such an eye-opener for that!

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