Publication Date: November 6th 2014
My rating: 4.5 stars.
Gretchen Muller has, as best she can, dealt with the horrors of her family's past. Her father, a senior Nazi officer, died to save the life of their leader, Adolf Hitler. And now Germany has the chance to be great once more. Swept up in the excitement and passion of life in Munich in 1931, seventeen-year-old Gretchen has embraced the life laid out for her by that leader, her 'Uncle Dolf'. But the secrets of the past cannot be silenced forever. When Gretchen receives a letter from an anonymous sender claiming to have more information about her father's death, she becomes swept up in a desperate and dangerous search for the truth. With the full might of the ever-powerful Nazi party on her tail, it is a race that will risk everything she has and change her life forever...
I have always been a fan of history, about learning about history. At school I was all set to pick History as my GCSE level choice, but none of my friends were doing it and everyone was saying religious studies was the safer option, so I decided not to follow my heart and go with what everyone else was choosing; religious studies. Did I get a good grade in religious studies, yes? But did I regret not picking history? Big time. Then when I started work I got to attend first year history lectures because it was my students chosen degree, I was once again fascinated, I think I was more eager than my student at times to go to the workshops and lectures. But I think my biggest reason for my fascination with history in particular the first and Second World War is because my great-grandfather served in the Second World War and my great-great grandfather (which I recently learned about in the first). I was too young to know about this when my great-grandfather was alive, but once in a while I like chatting with my dad about what it was like at the time. (My great-grandfather was missing for 9 years, before he returned home) and only recently we brought back his military stick from India. So I do tend to find myself invested in anything that deals or focuses on either world war.
But I didn’t know why it took me the longest time to pick up Prisoner of Night and Fog, I had heard brilliant things about it, but was finally glad to be able to experience Blankman’s brilliance for myself. I couldn’t remember all the going’s on with Hitler before, but Blankman did an excellent job at bringing it to life once again in this story. She weaved Gretchen’s fictitious story so well in to this book that I firmly believed by the end of it that Gretchen and her family were real.
Gretchen’s family had been taken under uncle Dolf’s wing when Gretchen’s dad had been killed, by putting his life before Hitler. Uncle Dolf did nothing but look out for Gretchen and her family, but when Gretchen bumps into a Jewish man Daniel (someone who she’s been taught to despise and be disgusted by) Gretchen realises that everything she’s listened to by Uncle Dolf and all those around her, maybe more misleading than she could have imagined. I so wanted Gretchen to remove the blinkers that she had worn for such a long time, yes by discovering the truth, it may put Gretchen in more danger not only from Uncle Dolf but also her brother Reinhard, but wasn’t it more important learning what had happened to her father and actually doing what was right?
The scenes Blankman infused in to the story were really fierce, but at times also hard to follow through. Not only did I feel like I was actually there in Munich, Germany, it was horrid at times learning about everything that was happening, and seeing what some of the characters had to go through. Also in most cases, we were never given the full picture, things were covered up or distorted that we had to make our own assumptions. But this didn’t take out the enjoyable factor out of this story at all. But more than that, it had me rooting for Gretchen even more to discover the truth, but also to be able to get out alive whilst she could. I loved how Gretchen was able to find friends in the most unexpected places, most of all I loved the introduction of Daniel’s character. I don’t really want to give too much away, but you really need to experience Daniel and Gretchen’s story for yourself.
Blankman’s writing was absolutely exquisite in Prisoner of Night and Fog, not only did it make me fall in love with some great characters, but it totally brought out the history nerd within me. I can totally see myself digging out my history books which will keep me occupied until the release of Blankman’s next book Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke.