Fiction,  YA

Prisoner of Night and Fog / Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke

I wasn’t sure what book I should start with, but since my brain is a sieve I decided I really ought to do ones I just finished. So here goes: Prisoner of Night and Fog and Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke!

anne-blankman

I discovered this series by someone mentioning them on Twitter. Or something. (I told you my brain is a sieve.) And because my brain is also diseased, “night and fog” instantly grabbed me because Code Name Verity.

I really enjoyed these, if one can call it enjoyment when I’m a bundle of nervous twitching and anxiously silent-yelling AAARRRRGHHHH at lines like “make Germany great again” or lines about piano wire and ice water and torture. (No, really, I DID enjoy them very much.)

Anne Blankman can tell a story. I really couldn’t put either book down once I got going because I had to find out what would happen. I read each one in about a day.

The main characters, Gretchen and Daniel, are both very likeable, even in the early parts where Gretchen is still devoted to Hitler. Gretchen’s growth as a person over the course of the books is sympathetic and realistic. Gretchen’s brother Reinhard is one of the scariest characters I can think of offhand, and her parents are complicated and sometimes incomprehensible. I also really enjoyed the way the author used a framework of real events (the Beer Hall Putsch and the Reichstag fire) and especially people (Hitler, Eva Braun, Göring, and others) and wove her story and fictional characters in with them.

Oh, and Gretchen has a cat. I’m a cat lover, so I have to mention this.

I think my biggest complaint would be that the descriptions of torture or abuse are just a hair too intense for my taste (or maybe just my ability to cope). I think it’s important to be clear how atrocious the Nazi regime was, lest history repeat itself, but if you’ve experienced abuse or trauma you may want to proceed with caution. It’s not constant, but it is periodically a thing.

Overall, though, highly recommend! I hadn’t been familiar with either the Putsch or the Reichstag fire prior to reading these books, so for me it was a new look at the days leading up to WWII from the German perspective.

-Eva

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