The Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman Review: Hitler up close and personal

May 26, 2014 by Jeann @ Happy Indulgence | 3 stars, Books, Reviews

The Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman Review: Hitler up close and personalPrisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman
Series: Prisoner of Night and Fog #1
Published by Balzer + Bray, HarperCollins on April 22, 2014
Source: Edelweiss, Publisher
Genres: Historical, Young Adult
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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.

I’ve never really been interested in Nazi Germany or Hitler, while tragic and disturbing, I’ve always found the time period to be kind of boring. When Prisoner of Night and Fog came up for review, I thought this would be my chance to find out if the book could interesting the pessimist in me about the historical period. And it did, through the eyes of a relatable, strong heroine who discovers the truth about Hitler, also affectionately known in the novel as Uncle Dolf.

Seeing Hitler up close and in person was creepy and intriguing, especially from Gretchen’s perspective as his doting, naive golden girl. Her admiration and respect for her Uncle Dolf is eerie, as we all know the truth behind his rise to power. What freaked me out though was seeing Hitler’s charismatic, compelling side, his difficulty to emphasise and his care and adoration for Gretchen. This is a man who is a sociopath and it slowly leaks out throughout the novel.

Gretchen is an inquisitive, smart, defiant and brave young girl who grows into a smart strong woman, even in a male dominated environment. When Gretchen witnesses her brothers’ violent beating of a Jew, she can’t quite convince herself to believe the prejudice against them. There is an underlying theme of mystery and suspense threaded throughout the book as Gretchen wises up to what Hitler is really up to and conducts research on his actual agenda – to exterminate Jews.

The man she had loved as a father was a fraud. He kissed the backs of her hands and advocated war; he ruffled her hair and preached death; he had played with her on the carpet with toy soldiers, and all along he had been planning the extinction of an entire people. 

Nothing seems to happen in the bulk of novel though, with an event where Gretchen is abused by her maniacal brother Reinhard seeming to underpin most of the plot. It moves at a super slow pace as half of the novel seems to focus on this one event. I found myself bored at times, wishing there was more to keep me going about a time period I wasn’t excited about. Thankfully there’s a sort of forbidden romance between Gretchen and Daniel Cohen, a young Jewish reporter who takes her in when no one else does. Daniel is a sweet enough boy, but it was kind of unbelievable seeing Gretchen go from one extreme to the other, believing everything he says about Hitler who has been her father figure for most of her life.

Prisoner of Night and Fog is rich and exquisite in history, with the surge of the Nazi rise to power and the segregation between the Jews felt loud and clear. Reading the author’s final notes with a full bibliography, I am impressed by the amount of research and historical accuracies featured within the novel.


For someone whose eyes glaze over whenever I hear the words Hitler or Nazis, Prisoner of Night and Fog does manage to make the historical period more relatable and interesting for readers. I enjoyed reading Anne Blankman’s take on Hitler and discovering that many events and people within the novel were real, so at least I can say I know more about Hitler now. The novel was atmospheric, rich in history and written really well. My rating reflects my apathy towards the setting though, why read about a subject I don’t really enjoy?

Rating: 3 out of 5

I received this book on Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. 

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Jeann is an Aussie YA blogger and mum who loves to read and recommend books! You can usually find me fangirling about books on my various social media channels including Twitter @happyindulgence, Instagram and Youtube.

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62 responses to “The Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman Review: Hitler up close and personal

  1. I just got this book not too long ago and I'm really excited to read it because of the time period! (And cover of course) I'm glad you pretty much enjoyed it! I'll be reading it very soon! Awesome review!
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  2. Glad to hear you were really interested in that part of history, as disturbing as it is! I'm glad you are keen on reading the book even after my review. The part about the character changing heart is actually understandable as you read it. Thank you lovely!

  3. I've always had an interest in that era of our history. It's all kinds of awful and horrific and really puts the human condition under a microscope and makes you think about how we act as masses.

    First of all the cover for this book is simply gorgeous. That girl is so beautiful, and I want that cover in physical form! 😀

    I like the sound of this novel, and I am more interested in it now that I have read your review. I like the fact that the author has done their research because it's really important when a novel focuses so much o real history.

    I am a bit iffy about the sudden change of heart of the main character, but who knows. I shall have to see for myself ;P

    Wonderful review, Jeann, dear! <3
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  4. I ended up loving it (as seen in my my review haha), but than again I'm a huge history buff (especially of WWII) and I loved the accuracy of it. I do agree that the story can be a bit slow, since a lot of history background, but I'm glad that despite not being a huge fan history, that you enjoyed it!

    …. I used history a lot…. lol
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  5. We're completely opposite! I usually really hate history, even though the irony is I started loving reading from another tragedy in history… POMPEII. I always found WWII really interesting, but an uncle being Hitler. Heh, that would be one interesting book!

    Although this reminds me of a movie… darn it, I watched it at school a few weeks ago! It had William H. Macy. That's all I remember. It was like this name character by the name of Larry… who couldn't see well… >_<

    Oh wait! Focus! That was the name of the movie! The synopsis is reminding of that!
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  6. I've got a physical copy of this one, an an extra to give away. I'm more so bored by historical eras, I really try to broaden the books I read, but this one sounds pretty good. I'm more interested in the world the author has painted, when it's eclectic and lush, I can really submerge myself in the storyline. When I seen Mel's review, I was super excited, but can understand why it couldn't hold your interest.

    This is probably why I shouldn't blog hop at night. I'm not making any sense. *yells* TRANSLATOR, CAN WE GET SOME SUBTITLES ON MY REPLY. That should probably do the trick.
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    • Lol don't worry Kelly you made sense to me. That's awesome you got a physical copy. Of you're interesting in experiencing the history and all this one's pretty good for that.

  7. Melanie (YA Midnight

    I'm glad that you enjoyed this one! I absolutely loved the setting–and I totally see why you didn't love it as much,

    Lovely review! <33

  8. I am actually fascinated about that era. I watch anything related to that time, including Schindler's List. I haven't read the books, but I liked The Book Thief, and The Boy In Striped Pajamas (movies). I also liked Block 24 (book). I think I would read this one, because I'm interested to know how the author wrote about Uncle Dolf up close. It sounds like a really good book. 😉
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    • The Book Thief is one of my favourites of all times and I've read Boy in Striped Pyjamas which was really, really sad. I think it was because this one was Hitler's origin story which made it boring for me. Hope you enjoy it Dre!

  9. "Nothing seems to happen in the bulk of novel though" Yep. My favorite part of this book was seeing Hitler in a different light but the rest was pretty meh. It was boring to me and I actually think the time period is super interesting so it's definitely not just you! Great review 😀
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  10. At last, it's nice to see that you tried something new and well even if it's not for you, you actually tried it.

  11. If I didn't commit to reviewing it and trying to discover what all the raves were about I probably wouldn't have continued. But thank you Dani, I know how that is lol

  12. I know, I tend to enjoy fast paced books or books that are so rich in the descriptions or have beautiful writing that you kind of get immersed into it. Sadly the description or time period isn't one I was fully enticed with.

  13. Glad to hear you loved it, Hitler was definitely portrayed really well and from what I read, accurately which is really scary. It was fascinating but I found the side story with Gretchen kind of boring. Thank you lovely!

  14. I don't actually read a lot of historical fiction and I'm usually really picky on the ones that I have enjoyed in the past, but yeah anything to do with Hitler, I'm out. I guess I was just curious with this one to see whether it would open my mind a bit more because he was a fascinating and evil man. IT was actually really gross and because the author actually stuck to the facts a lot, he had those relations with about 3 girls in the book. Those moments were really disturbing actually :S *shudders*

  15. *gasp* you find this period boring! I love learning about Nazi Germany and I find it so fascinating…and disturbing at times. I really want to read this novel just so we can see Hitler in a different perspective and I just think this novel would be overall interesting! Great job of getting out of your comfort zone, I'm glad you enjoyed it even though this topic isn't really for you
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    • Yeah, I was never really into Nazi Germany! It really is fascinating and disturbing, I agree. I think you'd enjoy this novel if you like the time period, it does portray Hitler quite intimately.

  16. The pacing would be my only concern but all the other points seem like things that I would totally love in a book. I must admit, I do love anything that is set in WWII and I'm not sure why that is and maybe it's because there's a definite good and bad guy, you know? And PS: you know what you like and don't like and there's nothing wrong with that! 😉 Fantastic review!
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  17. I just received this in the mail a couples of days ago and I've been so excited to read it, now I'm little worried after your rating lol. But, I'm different from you in that this is probably one of my favorite periods to read about. I'm huge history fan, and for some reason WWII really fascinates me. Hopefully I won't find the book boring too, I'll be so disappointed. But, I appreciate you being honest.
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  18. I feel you, I can't reallt get into proper-historical reads because they tend to focus on the…history, lol. I mean there might be some action-packed historical out there, true, I just didn't come across it yet.

    I'd be entirely grossed out to read about H though, not only because of the Holocaust and all that monstrosity he made happen, but also because I've seen documentaries about him and his "young, pliable girls", including his niece, that he seems to have had let's say improper relations with. SO DISGUSTING!! I guess it makes that such a person would be twisted in more than the one way, right, but still… creepy beyond my point of tolerability, sad to say. I like dark and effed up stuff, but the H subject is just too much, on all accounts.

    That being said, it sounds like interesting read and if I'll feel like historical reading, I'll look the author's name up 🙂
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  19. I read this one a few weeks ago, and I absolutely loved it. The characters and the historical elements are all so wonderfully balanced, and I love how Hitler was portrayed so three-dimensionally – it was morbidly fascinating. I can definitely see why this wasn't something that necessarily wowed you. If you're not really into the time period, it was definitely a bit harder to connect to this one. Nonetheless, I'm glad it was enjoyable overall! <3 BRILLIANT review Jeann! <3
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  20. The rich atmosphere and the forbidden romance makes me want to read it, but the slow, boring pace makes me hesitate… I don't want to feel bored during reading. That honestly gives me some migraine, to be honest… nevertheless, great review! I'm still on the fence regarding this. I may give this a shot if I'm feeling for something historical.
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  21. WWII scares the hell out of me which is one of the reasons why I still haven't picked up this book yet .-. I want to, really badly, and will, SOON but yeah.

    I am sorry that this book wasn't able to change your apathy towards the time period though. That would probably make the book a whole lot harder to enjoy .-.

    Lovely review as always, Jeann! <3
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  22. I'm a huge fan of both historical fiction and this time period but I started this book maybe three weeks ago and am only on the 2nd chapter. It sounds amazing but I don't think I'm in the mood for it right now. Lovely review, Jeann. Your analysis of the book is wonderful. Hopefully I'll have better luck…if I ever pick it up again! lol
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  23. I actually picked this off my pile last week, but decided I wasn't quite ready for it yet. I think it's interesting to see Hitler shown in all his evil, charismatic glory. Oddly fitting, because, otherwise, how could he have gotten the entire Germany to follow his edict? Great review, Jeann.
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  24. I'm fascinated by history and I always find this an interesting period, but I can definitely understand why some people don't care about it! I'm still happy you find this book enjoyable enough. The slow pace worked for me, but I'm also hoping there is more action in the sequel. Even I found the forbidden romance a nice touch to the story 😀 Great review Jeann!
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  25. I'm actually super freaked about WWII stuff. All the holocaust and concentration camps??? *covers eyes* I appreciate history a lot, buuut, it scares me! Fantasy is so much safer. lol! ANYWAY. I gave it a 3 too. I was pretty apathetic towards the characters, actually, and I was only interested in the psychology behind Hitler's insanity. Also: the author's note. The author's note was one of the best parts. I'm so strange like that. 😉
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    • I know, it's super scary isn't it? It's an incredibly dark period. I know what you mean about fantasy, at least that stuff is made up! The author's note was awesome, I totally agree.