November 8, 2015

Review of Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman

Release Date: April 22, 2o14
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Page Count: 401
Format: Hardcover
Genre: YA
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.

 Prisoner of Night and Fog (or PNF as I'll call it for the rest of this review) by Anne Blankman was a book that sat on my TBR pile for quite some time before being read, even though I badly wanted to skip all the other books and get to it earlier. As a retelling of the Holocaust before it happened, when Hitler was still gaining power; PNF was a unique retelling that isn't frequently seen in many other books. As soon as I opened its covers I ended up binge reading it until midnight and closing it, knowing that I had just finished a near amazing story.

The world-building and settings in PNF were simply amazing, everything from the description of Munich in the 1930's to the various places throughout the city that Gretchen visits and all the different glimpses of Germany offered were complete and had nothing lacking. I felt immersed in the surroundings at all moments and felt like I was right there with Gretchen experiencing everything that she did, all the anxiety and fear from her brother and Hitler as well as happiness and more pleasant emotions from the city itself and her moments with Daniel. Personally I've never been to Germany but I'm sure that Anne's portrayal of its past self is spot on and almost flawless. This may be Anne Blankman's first book but she has managed to leave a lasting impression in my mind (and Goodreads bookshelves) with her superb use of details and imagery to create true and realistic images of 1930's Germany.

With such examples of world-building from Anne Blankman I was expecting the characters to be just as well written if not better and thankfully they did not disappoint. Everyone from Gretchen herself to Reinhard, Daniel, the members of the Nazi party, and Adolf Hitler were extremely realistic and I found myself searching up a few people online thinking that they may have been actual people and not just fiction. But what impressed me the most was how Anne handled writing Hitler into her book and the parts about all the mental illnesses. While I'm not sure if that actually happened (I'm not exactly that well-read on Hitler's illnesses) it would make complete sense if it was and added much more to PNF than simply being background information. One small annoyance I had with the characters was the romance between Gretchen and Daniel. They fell in love too quickly, while I'm not one to judge anyone on how relationships work; given the circumstances surrounding them I felt like the love stage could have been arrived at a bit more slowly. But other than that the character aspect of PNF was superbly handled and I don't even feel a need to mention anyone else specifically because every single person was well written and no one was left out (although a bit more back story for some top Nazi officials wouldn't have hurt).

PNF was a book that I was looking forward to reading for some time but the exceptional quality of writing came as a surprise after my expectations of a good but not great book. Anne Blankman gave us a book that had all the elements of a five star read except for a few annoyances and left me badly wanting the sequel after I had finished. Near amazing descriptions of Germany and world-building coupled with ultra realistic characters and a unique retelling make up this wonderful book. PNF might be a good read for people who like historical YA, retellings, and interesting interpretations of Nazi Germany.

4.5/5 - Amazing book


  1. I have been DYING to read this book! I've seen this a thousand times at my library but, I've never pick it up. Thanks to your review I will definitely be picking this up soon!

    1. I'm glad you enjoyed the review and I'm sure you'll love the book :)