Book Review: Prisoner of Night and Fog

Monday, July 11, 2016

Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman


I imagine that the amount of research Anne Blankman did for this book is insane. While it is primarily a work of fiction, it also incorporates an overwhelming amount of factual information, and a large percentage of the characters were actually alive and working alongside Hitler during the first half of the 20th century. The book itself centers a fictional protagonist named Gretchen, who has always been something of a beloved niece or pet to Hitler himself, her father having been close with Hitler before his death. Gretchen has always believed everything the Party told her - both it's ideals and the fact that her father died to save the life of Adolf Hitler. She suffers at home, with her father gone, a sadistic and abusive older brother, and a mother who chooses to ignore his horrifying actions. Early in the story she meets a young Jewish reporter named Daniel who makes her completely question every teaching Hitler's Party has been brainwashing her with for her entire life. Together, they work to uncover the truth of what actually happened to Gretchen's father, while she's also changing her mind about the ideas she's always upheld as unfailing truths.

This book was so fascinating to me. I've always loved reading books told from the opposite perspective of a war that the United States fought in. In history classes you're constantly fed facts and information and opinions about the Americans' involvement in WWII or any major conflict. What you hear far less often are stories and perspectives from the "enemy" side. In this case, a glimpse into the inner workings of Hitler's Party, and the ways it shaped and mystified the story were incredible for me as a reader.

This book had mystery, history, suspense and romance, all in hearty and equal portions. I was, as I said, very impressed by Blankman's obvious research and dedication to telling a story that melded truth and fiction so seamlessly. Even the characters who were created by the author felt real and vivid, and reading about real members of Hitler's inner circle just added a layer of depth and intensity to the book. Reading about the time period shortly before the dawn of WWII from a German perspective enhanced the horror of the actions that we as readers already know were soon to come.

My complaints about this book were few. At times, the use of real German street names/locations/titles became a bit confusing for me as a reader. I totally respect the use of authentic names, but as a non-German speaking reader, it was much harder for me to maintain and recall smaller details in an unfamiliar language. The only other concern I had (or at least that I can remember) was that I would've preferred more in some places. For example, more information on Daniel and Gretchen's investigation, more backstory for Daniel, more lead up to the romantic moments. Everything was excellent in these regards, but I would have been totally okay with a longer book that just had more significant moments/information/etc included.

Overall, this book captivated me and I loved it. Historical fiction isn't always my favorite genre, but if it was all like this, I'd read even more of it. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and look forward to picking up the next book in the series very soon.

Pages: 401

Cover: 4/5
Intrigue: 4.5/5
Mystery: 4/5
My Adoration for Daniel Cohen: 5/5 

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