Welcome to the Working for the Mandroid stop on Anne Blankman's blog tour for Prisoner of Night & Fog, her debut historical fiction novel set in Germany as the country heads towards World War II. The tour is being hosted by the lovely ladies at The Unofficial Addiction Book Fanclub and runs through April 20. You can follow the entire tour over at their site here. Below you'll find my review as well as a contest hosted by Anne to win a hard copy of Prisoner of Night & Fog.
Prisoner of Night & Fog
Balzer + Bray
I received an e-ARC of this book in return for an honest review.
Releases April 22, 2014
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.
Hello, historical fiction, my old friend. I’ve been avoiding you for eons now while I played in spaceships, used steam-powered gadgets, went on epic journeys and trudged through vast wastelands. You’ve been hanging out, acting coy, waiting for me to come back to realty – or at least a fictionalized version of a past reality. I kept putting you off, but you were patient, bidding your time until just the right book came along to hook me back in.
I used to devour historical fiction as a kid, but abandoned it for the most part when I discovered science fiction. I am so glad that A Prisoner of Night & Fog was my choice of novel to return to genre. It has all the things I love the most and wraps it into a murder mystery with plenty of heart-pounding sequences with deadly consequences, a star-crossed lover romance and left that lingering sense of wonder which characters were real people and which were figments of the author’s imaginations.
I’m not a big history fan, mostly because in school you jump from one war to the next, memorizing dates and important causalities and political ramifications and a bunch of things that I don’t care about. I wanted to learn about the lives of the people left behind, how everyone not on the battlefield was effected by a changing world and of all the wars taught in schools, there was really only one where the history books touched on the home front. That’s why I’ve always been fascinated by World War II and Blankman’s novel just pulled me right back in to my obsession with the details of events that would eventually lead up to it.
I have to admit for the first part of this book, I was oddly uncomfortable. While I read the description of the book, the story read ambiguously towards Hitler, which makes sense in the context of the lead character being kind of an adopted niece who was raised to believe the evils he preached from a very young age. Even after she stops her brother and his friend from beating a Jewish man to death, I still found myself a little apprehensive reading a book where Hilter wasn’t the devil from beginning to end through the eyes of the character we’re supposed to most relate with.
And that’s only one of the many reasons Blankman’s prose is so riveting and effective. Her writing pulled me into Gretchen’s life and I lived beside her as she went from one dangerous situation to another, fighting fears and overcoming her own prejudices. There is just something so alive about Blankman’s story telling that it made me feel so completely tied up in Gretchen’s life that it was difficult to return to the present day when I walked away.
I don’t think this can really count as a spoiler, but eventually Gretchen recognizes the poison her “Uncle Dolf” has been preaching and she has to reexamine her entire life while searching for the truth behind her father’s death during a political movement nearly a decade earlier. Gretchen is a gutsy girl even when weakened by the gendered expectation of her time period. She is a fighter while journalist Daniel is a physical beacon of goodness and trust within a darkening world.
I want to flail like a 12-year-old girl and that really doesn’t seem right when attempting to describe a book that features Hitler quite often. It’s clear that Blankman did her research, not only on historical events, but also when it comes to psychology, a topic that is featured in great length at times as Gretchen comes out of the fog her family has put her in to keep the truth hidden from her. Never once did I feel displaced from the story to some anachronism or fallacy in logic, which is often a difficult thing to say about books relying on real life events.
This could honestly act as a stand-alone and if it weren’t for the historical notes (NOTES! BIBLIOGRAPHIES! My geeky internal English Major is so very giddy!) stating that a sequel was imminent, I would have thought it was a stand-alone. The major threads are tied up nicely though – considering it is history – there are of course dozens of paths that Blankman can take with her characters. I am enlivened by this book and now want to devour books about early to mid-century heroines being courageous and going on insane adventures that society would completely disown them for. Somehow this one book has enlightened a passion that I thought was long since dead. I highly recommend it if you have any interest in the time period or in historical fiction in general.
Enter to Win a Copy of Prisoner of Night & Fog!
The contest for one hardback copy of Prisoner of Night & Fog is open to US residence and will run through the end of the blog tour.
About the Author:
Anne Blankman may have been meant to be a writer because her parents named her for Anne of Green Gables. She grew up in an old house with gables (gray, unfortunately) in upstate New York. When she wasn't writing or reading, she was rowing on the crew team, taking ballet lessons, fencing and swimming. She graduated from Union College with degrees in English and history, which comes in handy when she writes historical fiction.
After earning a master's degree in information science, Anne began working as a youth services librarian. Currently, she lives in southeastern Virginia with her family. When she's not writing young adult fiction, she's playing with her daughter, training for races with her husband, working at her amazing library branch, learning to knit (badly), and reading.
Anne Blankman is the author of PRISONER OF NIGHT AND FOG, the first in a three-book deal slated for publication in spring 2014 from Balzer + Bray | HarperCollins. She is represented by Tracey Adams of Adams Literary.