Sunday, November 16, 2014

YA Fiction Review: Prisoner of Night and Fog

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.

Prisoner of Night and Fog
Blackman, Anne (2014). [Genre: Historical]
Source: I recieved a copy of this book for review from the publisher via BookBridgr. I received no other form of compensation and all opinions are my own.

I have this weird thing where when I'm not reading historical fiction, I convince myself I don't like historical fiction. That it's not as good as historical non-fiction reading. Then something compels me to pick up something and I prove myself wrong. Happens every time. Prisoner of Night and Fog was no exception to that rule. In fact it's probably the proof of it, because I loved it. Blackman just seems to know how to weave a historical tale and all the elements you could wish for were there. 

First of all, it's incredibly accurate (I also love that she included an authors note on the historical background and a selected bibliography). Gretchen and Daniel, the main characters, are woven into real events with such skill that you find yourself questioning how the story can be fiction. They slot in seamlessly and no historical event is missed out because it doesn't fit the story - the story fits around the history.

Blackman's writing is also extremely compelling. Although Prisoner of Night and Fog has a slow start, soon it's rocketing along at an almost horrendous pace. I almost felt like I needed to put the book down so I could breathe! The characterisation is beautiful. Gretchen and Daniel are both deeply three-dimensional characters and Blackman doesn't fall into the trap of making Hitler a straight out monster. Although evil, his character is fully rounded and the reader can see exactly why people follow him, even sympathise with him, all the while willing Gretchen to run away as fast as she can from 'Uncle Dolf.' No mean feat in fiction. 

 To be honest, I can't say enough good things about Prisoner of Night of Fog. It's an extraordinary debut, packed full of historical goodness, romance and all the elements of a stunning psychological thriller. I better not talk myself out of reading part two -the hype for Blackman's follow up is already building online. 

5/5 stars. 

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