Friday, 25 April 2014

Review: Prisoner of Night and Fog

Prisoner of Night and Fog

Publication Date: April 22nd 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.

Prisoner of Night and Fog is a hard one to review, not because it's confusing or annoyed me but because it is simply remarkable. And I'm pretty speechless. There's no doubt that it's well researched, and I'm not going to pretend that I know much about Germany or that time than probably most of us. So it was an eye-opener and such an breath-taking way to learn.

I think the only other one I've read in The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, which in its own context is completely different. Prisoner of Night and Fog is set at the beginning of the rise of Hitler and the National Socialism in Germany, and you really get an insight into his head- and the beginning of diagnosis into psychology and mental health in general. We're basically at the beginning-and in the middle of Hitler's plan.
Hitler's a psychopath, a sociopath, and what you get to see is, compared against a different character, Hitler is a lot more than that. He's also a lot more devious and calculated and careful than you thought he was. After all, to do what he did, to have that much control you'd have to be.  And that's what it is about.

Nothing is more enjoyable than educating a young thing—a girl of eighteen or twenty, as pliable as wax.
—Adolf Hitler
Mixing historical figures and fictitious characters are always interesting, and the hardest thing to do, I think. To make it look and feel real, that those fictitious characters belong there. It's always fun to see how it's handled.  And while the story is central around Hitler, Prisoner of Night and Fog is about the fall and rise of Gretchen Muller. In that order. Her belief system, although twisted by Uncle Dolf, she is undoubtfully loyal. She's not easily swayed. But, she also hates violence, and when confronted with that her choice is simple, while it's not simple at all because of what she's been told against what she feels and what she slowly learns all lead to the same thing: Conflict.

Can I just say how amazing this was done? It's not a quick switch. Gretchen doesn't just wake up one day and thinks differently. It's gradual and timely, and even then until the last possible moment she claws to keep that belief, to everything she's known.
The best thing about it though is the atmosphere. It's tension, it's palpable, and in truth it is fear, and scary and you can feel it. It's hard to do that with something you already know about. It's not a surprise, it isn't new or created, but scratch that because Prisoner of Night and Fog has done just that.
We do also have a romance, and this is what a forbidden romance with high stakes is, not an infatuation because of feuding houses,  (yeah, I went there), not because they're older immortals that have been waiting for the one, or a glittery vampire. Just putting that out there. This.
Prisoner of Night and Fog doesn't need shade or illustrious hype. It doesn't hide. While it's based on second handed accounts of research, It's based on facts and truth, and at the heart, a girls fight for the truth among speculation and fear. Just read it.

~A copy was provided by Headline in exchange for an honest review~

 Rating: 5/5