Prisoner of Night and Fog – Anne Blankman
This book has been on my radar for a little while, I saw a couple of my favourite bloggers reviewing it and though it had mixed reviews, I really wanted to get my hands on it, those of you that have been reading my posts for a while will know that I LOVE the whole ww2 era, that I am fascinated by the rise of the Nazi party and that I will read anything featuring those things, so when I saw this on Bookbridgr, I knew I absolutely needed it!
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.
Sometimes when you really want something, you end up finding that it doesn’t quite live up to your expectations, I didn’t find that at all with this book, I anxiously waited to be approved for it and then I savoured every single sentence, of course it isn’t perfect, it could have done with a German editor for the moments when the German language is used, but on the whole, this was an amazingly poignant look at Hitler’s rise, a story interwoven with real life events and people, making something exhilarating.
One of the reasons why I love this period of history so much is because people, normal, average, human people, fixated on certain groups of people and decided to inflict unbelievable cruelness on them, what is up with that? How did that even happen? The beauty of this book is that we have Gretchen, a girl bought up in Nazi ideology, a girl who has spent her whole life believing that Jewish people are subhuman, that pure bloodlines are the way forward, who suddenly has to start questioning everything she has ever known in order to be a decent person, she has to come to terms with the fact that her family, her friends, her uncle Dolf, are all telling her lies, feeding her untruths to make her into the person that they want and her realising this and getting her head around it was done really well. There is also the added sense of danger when you realise that many of the events that happened in this book, the Munich putsh, Geli’s death, they all really happened, and the fact that these things happened, and not that long ago, is part of the terrifying beauty of this story. The book also has modern relevance, what with 1930s Germany seemingly repeating itself in the UK with the rise of UKIP, so really, whether you like historical fiction or not, if you’re a little bit concerned with all the people that seem to think Nigel Farage is a good idea, maybe this might be a good read for you.
As well as being a historical thriller, there is a bit of a romance woven in (of course there is), but it isn’t in your face and it doesn’t distract from the story. Gretchen and Daniel obviously have chemistry, but Gretchen’s priorities are to finding out the truth and learning who to trust, not whether or not Daniel fancies her, which was a refreshing change. Well written women are few and far between.
Another incredibly interesting aspect of this book was that it touched on the mental state of not just Hitler, but also Gretchen’s brother, it featured characters who were doctors, identifying both as being psychopaths (now a bit of an outdated term, but certainly one that could conceivably be used in 1931), while Rienhard’s characteristics did show a very disturbing set of personality traits, I know from research that people are constantly debating whether or not Hitler was indeed mentally ill or if he was just plain evil. I don’t know enough to form a solid conclusion on that matter, but it was an interesting discussion point within the pages of the book and of course, knowing what I know about Hitler and the rise of the Nazi party, it was delightfully cringy watching him through Gretchen’s eyes being such a charismatic and caring uncle to her.
Basically, this book is great, not just from a historical point of view, but also in terms of being a romantic thriller, it’s engaging, well written and certainly thought provoking and I for one cannot wait for the sequel, set after Hitler becomes chancellor!
Many thanks to Bookbridgr for sending this to me, I loved every page of it!