November 16, 2015

e-ARC Review of Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke by Anne Blankman

 Release Date: April 21, 2o15
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Page Count: 406
Format: e-ARC
Genre: YA
The girl known as Gretchen Whitestone has a secret: She used to be part of Adolf Hitler’s inner circle. More than a year after she made an enemy of her old family friend and fled Munich, she lives with a kindly English family, posing as an ordinary German immigrant, and is preparing to graduate from high school. Her love, Daniel Cohen, is a reporter in town. For the first time in her life, Gretchen is content.
But then, Daniel gets a telegram that sends him back to Germany, and Gretchen’s world turns upside-down. And when she receives word that Daniel is wanted for murder, she has to face the danger she thought she’d escaped-and return to her homeland.
Gretchen must do everything she can to avoid capture and recognition, even though saving Daniel will mean consorting with her former friends, the Nazi elite. And as they work to clear Daniel’s name, Gretchen and Daniel discover a deadly conspiracy stretching from the slums of Berlin to the Reichstag itself. Can they dig up the explosive truth and get out in time-or will Hitler discover them first?
*an e-ARC of this book was given to me by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for a fair and honest review*

After finishing and loving Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman I immediately opened up my ARC of its sequel, Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke (Ill be calling it CBS during the review) and started reading. Anne Blankman delivers a worthy sequel to her first book that builds upon the plot and furthers the book universe and while it does have a few disappointments it is still a spectacular book that is worth reading.

The world-building and settings in CBS were as I wrote for the first book, simply amazing in many aspects. While its depiction of Nazi Germany was the most striking, specific buildings and scenes were just as well written. Personally I haven't read or learned much in the way of German history so I cant remark on how accurate the depictions but if a big chunk of it was accurate I wouldn't be surprised. Anne Blankman writes as if she herself experienced the 1930's in Germany and has firsthand experience of the going on's of the time and the fact that she wasn't there but still manages to write about the topic so skillfully attests to her writing prowess. Just like Prisoner of Night and Fog did in the first place, Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke will forever be marked down in my mind for its superb world-building and setting descriptions.

Although there werent that many new characters introduced in CBS, they along with all of the returning characters were very well written and realistic. We get to see Gretchen and Daniel after the events of PNF and how they respond to certain changes in their lives. Along the way several new people are introduced like Iron Fist Friedrich and his organization (who is now one of my favorite characters in the two books, he might have been part of organized crime but he still had ideals and looked out and cared for his people) as well as Birgit and the other girls. The National Socialist Party members as well as Hitler himself return and we once again get to see their reactions to Gretchen and their work on Germany. And while I feel like the successor to Friedrich could have helped out Gretchen a bit more instead of abandoning her everyone else were prime examples of top-notch characters in a YA book (or any other book for that matter).

The main annoyance I had with CBS was how abruptly the book ended and how the overall timeline of Germany starting the Holocaust proceeded too slowly. The only significant events to happen are Hitler getting his bill passed and becoming dictator but that's really it. I really hope there's a third book and its not just a duology because this ending was not enough and doesn't do justice to the two books overall. Other than that everything else from the world-building to the characters were very well written and kept me continuously turning the pages to find out what would happen next. Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke would probably be a good read for people who enjoy history, alternate takes on history, and well-written YA books.

4.5/5 - Amazing book

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