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Prisoner of Night and Fog

Prisoner of Night and Fog

4.3 6
by Anne Blankman

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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


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.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
★ 02/03/2014
Gretchen Müller has grown up in 1920s Germany believing her father sacrificed his life to shield “Uncle Dolf” from a fusillade of police bullets during Hitler’s failed 1923 attempt to overthrow the government. Because of her father’s martyrdom, Gretchen’s family has enjoyed favored status among the Nazis; she is now Hitler’s “favorite pet,” and her (terrifying) older brother works as one of his thuggish Brownshirts. Then Gretchen meets Daniel Cohen, a young reporter who has evidence that her father was not a Nazi hero, but a murder victim. Gretchen refuses to believe it, but as she undertakes her own investigation, she realizes that many things she had accepted as truth are lies. Debut novelist Blankman’s account of life in Munich prior to Hitler’s 1933 elevation to the chancellorship is completely engrossing. In an afterword, she separates fact from the fictional characters she created; a three-page bibliography is appended. Concocting a murder mystery featuring one of history’s most well-known figures is risky, and some scenes test the limits of plausibility. But Blankman creates riveting tension for her heroine and pulls readers through with an irresistible subplot featuring forbidden love. Ages 13–up. Agent: Tracey Adams, Adams Literary. (Apr.)
Kirkus Reviews
In 1930s Munich, a young German girl learns to question her learned hatred for Jewish people. Seventeen-year-old Gretchen Müller has grown up knowing Adolf Hitler as "Uncle Dolf," the great National Socialist leader whose life her father had died saving in 1923. This bedrock truth is challenged when a Jewish reporter named Daniel Cohen reaches out to her suggesting that her father actually had been murdered by a fellow National Socialist party member. Together, they work to unravel the mystery of why her father was killed. Gretchen finds herself doubting everything she has been taught to hate and fear about Jews and ultimately must decide where her honor and loyalty lie. In her debut, Blankman weaves into Gretchen's story the details of Hitler's historically documented rise to power (and psychopathic nature), and her fictional characters talk and live among some of Nazi Germany's most notorious figures. At times, the dialogue is unwieldy, and the historical details consume the narrative, which may cause some readers to become bored by slower sections of the story (though a sexually charged scene with Hitler himself will open their eyes wide). Here's hoping the author will find a better balance between description and action in the proposed sequel, as the relationship between Gretchen and Daniel is what sets this apart. An interesting perspective on a well-trod era. (author's note, bibliography) (Historical fiction. 13-17)
“A winning gamble”
Michelle Cooper
“PRISONER OF NIGHT AND FOG seamlessly blends the fascinating, terrifying facts of Hitler’s rise to power with a gripping murder mystery. Gretchen is a brave and believable protagonist, and readers will become engrossed in her struggle to uncover the truth. I can’t wait for the sequel.”
Elizabeth Wein
“I’m in awed envy of the daring with which Anne Blankman plunges into her difficult and sensitive subject matter. It’s terrifying and incredible to think how much of this story is true.”
Jennifer Armstrong
“A nail-biting visit to Adolf Hitler’s inner circle in the early days of the Nazi party’s rise to power.”
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Gretchen Muller has been raised with the ideals of the National Socialist Party. Blonde, blue-eyed, and beautiful, she has become a favorite of her Uncle Dolf, who is none other than Adolf Hitler. Her father, who served with Hitler during World War I, gave his life to protect him during the Beer Hall Putsch. Although she is grateful to her Uncle and the Party, she is not blind to their policies and punishments. Living in a dysfunctional family, Gretchen has endured the torments and twisted pranks of her malicious brother while her mother turns a blind eye. As the Nazis are on the verge of gaining power in Germany, the teen is contacted by a Jewish reporter, Daniel Cohen. His investigation into the Party has led him to information about her father's death that will change her life forever. Blankman's debut is beautifully written, full of suspense and intrigue. The well-developed characters drive the novel, while the murder-mystery plot is full of vivid historical details. Gretchen's journey of self-discovery unearths certain truths about her family, Hitler, and the Party and demonstrates that it is sometimes easier to accept a lie than the truth. Her relationship with Daniel, though not the main focus, is genuine and memorable. Readers will certainly enjoy this haunting and captivating work. An author's note provides historical information while setting the stage for a sequel.—Donna Rosenblum, Floral Park Memorial High School, NY

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range:
13 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

Anne Blankman is the acclaimed author of Prisoner of Night and Fog, which received a starred review and a Flying Start from Publishers Weekly. When Anne was twelve, she read Anne Frank's diary and has been haunted by World War II ever since. The idea for Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke came to her after she read about a real-life unsolved street assassination from January 1933, which was the inspiration for Monika Junge's murder. To research this book, she studied a wide range of sources, including biographies, memoirs, social histories, psychological profiles, old maps, photographs, and video footage.

Anne lives in southeastern Virginia with her husband, Mike, her young daughter, Kirsten, and, of course, lots and lots of books.

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Prisoner of Night and Fog 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Sanz71 More than 1 year ago
INITIAL THOUGHTS Not totally sure what to expect, will it be similar to The Book Thief? Will it try to portray Adolph Hitler as a "good but misunderstood man" Will it be a realistic portrayal of one of the most hated men in history? MY REVIEW I received this book from the publishers in exchange for my honest review. I felt drawn to the cover of this one. The young girl hurrying down a deserted road. The cover could fit as an image from the book when Gretchen is running to find Daniel. I immediately compared this book to The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak, though this book is set slightly before in era than The Book Thief. This book is before Hitler actually cam into his true horrendous power. Although like The Book thief this book deals with the real "normal" Germans and how they were affected by Hitler.So at the beginning of the book Gretchen is still grieving her fathers death. Even though he is hailed as a hero, him being shot whilst shielding Hitler from bullets. In fact her father and Adolf Hitler were at one time close friends,brought together by the war. They served together and fought in the trenches together. They were separated from the other troops when the were attacked by gas. Hitler and Gretchen's father were sent to a special hospital, where a diagnosis was given that becomes an important part of this story. So Gretchen has grown up as a niece figure to Adolf Hitler. Hitler has love only for his country, yet loves to surround himself with pretty young girls such as Gretchen, his own half cousin Geli and his favourite photographers assistant Eva... The story tells how Gretchen becomes aware that her fathers death was not one of a martyr. Her father was shot both fro the front during the march and also in the back by someone in his own political party too, bit who? Gretchen also has an "odd" brother in fact like Hitler, her brother Reinhardt was also labelled a psychopath.  So by now in the book we have met Adolf's niece (Gretchen) and nephew (Reinhardt). The nephew sounds like he strongly believes as Hitler does in persecuting the Jewish etc. Reinhardt seems to have no emotions at all he is so sadistic to his family. Gretchen seems to know it is wrong for the Jews to be persecuted but is scared to upset her uncle. As "Uncle Dolf" "protects" and has helped the family financially. The first pivotal moment  we see Gretchen with doubts about "Uncle Dolf's" political ways is when Reinhardt, his friend Kurt and Gretchen and her friend Eva are all in a car going to a local cafe to meet Hitler or Uncle Dolf as affectionately called at this point in the book.  A dark figure runs across the road in front of the car. When Kurt & Reinhardt miss the man they slam their brakes on and chase the man who is a Jew down into an alley where they begin to beat him up. It is at that moment that Gretchen truly realises that the Jews Hitler wishes to remove from Germany are real living breathing people who like her family are just trying to survive. It seems like the scales or rose tinted glasses have fallen away from Gretchen's eyes and she is seeing Hitler for what he truly is and all that he stands for. She is herself flirting with danger trying to find out who killed her father and why which puts her in close contact with a jewish reporter." Gretchen becomes quite determined regardless of the risks to get to the bottom of how her father died and enlists the help of a local jewish reporter.  Gretchen turns out to be a really good detective but gets herself in some life threatening situations but with Daniels help uncovers a lot of things too. So there is a little romance within the book, as well as betrayal, secrecy, with plenty of drama and suspense too. The characters are well written and you end up feeling sorry for Hitlers half-niece Geli,  seems to have it all, she lives in luxury in Hitlers apartments in a wealthy part of town and can go shopping and spending money without having to earn it. Geli, Gretchen & Eva are the young girls whom Hitler likes to be seen dining. Hitlers moods do change from one minute to the next. It's like he acts like an Uncle to Gretchen as if he truly cares about her yet when Reinhardt beats his sister Hitler instantly takes the Reinhardt's side. He say's something like Reinhardt is the man of the house you must learn to do as he wishes! So the man is not just racist but sexist too. Uncle Adolf is only happy playing Uncle when everything is going to plan. So did I enjoy the book? Yes, I really did enjoy it and would make it comparable to The Book Thief.  Would I recommend the book? Yes, it is YA aimed, more so than The Book thief I would say. Would I read another if this was the first in a series? If there was more to come about Gretchen and Daniel, yes I would want to read it. Having said that I think that this book also works really well as a standalone novel. Would I read other books by Anne Blankman? Yes, I would take a close look at anything written by this author as I really did enjoy her writing style and pace as well as the book content.
TheNerdyJournalist More than 1 year ago
Historical fiction isn’t my usual cup of tea, especially stories about WWII/the Holocaust, which I tend to consider overdone—kind of like vampires and werewolves … except not really. However, any premonitions I had about “Prisoner of Night and Fog” were completely blown away as I ventured further into the novel. I really felt like I was running alongside Gretchen as she scoured Munich for the truth about her father’s death. I’ve never been to Germany – the only European country I’ve been to is France – but I could picture every stone-paved street and building. Blankman weaves together fictional and historical elements seamlessly, putting immense details into both. It’s clear that she did her research. I learned more about the Beer Hall Putsch and Hitler’s rise to power from “Prisoner of Night and Fog” than I did from three AP Euro textbooks. It takes a vast amount of creativity to achieve such an authentic feel and an immaculate merging of information and imagination in a historical fiction novel. I would’ve never thought to make Eva Braun, Hitler’s young wife, and Geli Raubel, his half-niece, the main character’s best friends. But Blankman did! The characters, both real and historical, are so lively and complex. Each and every character is fascinating and realistic, from Hitler – as both “Uncle Dolf” and the evil mastermind behind the Holocaust – to young, naïve Eva and Geli. It’s hard not to imagine each character like people you’d come across in real life. I see imagine Hitler pacing in his office, Geli fawning over lovely dresses, Fritz Gerlich angrily typing away on a type-writer. I see brown-shirted Reinhart glaring at everyone he meets and Daniel, notepad in hand, hunting down sources. Speaking of Daniel, you know that I never end a review without discussing the romance. Forbidden romance is nothing new – we’ve all read (or at least heard of) “Romeo and Juliet” – but there’s something about it that always gets me excited. Jewish reporter Daniel Cohen and Nazi golden girl Gretchen Müller. It can’t get any more forbidden than that. But, unlike Romeo and Juliet, there’s no insta-love between Daniel and Gretchen. Actually, their first meeting is far from friendly (there’s a knife involved). It doesn’t take long for Gretchen to realize that Daniel may be right about her father’s death, and an uneasy, formal alliance forms between them as they search for the truth. As the plot thickens and their investigation becomes more dangerous, Daniel and Gretchen find themselves trusting each other more and more and, of course, falling in love. Bottom Line “Prisoner of Night and Fog” is officially my favorite historical fiction novel ever! Each scene is spectacularly vivid, the characters are complex and the plot is full of suspense. The historical events/characters are flawlessly interwoven with Blankman’s imagination, creating a riveting plot that feels incredibly real. Though I certainly can’t say that I know everything about Hitler’s rise to power and his regime, based on what I learned in history class and from supplemental reading I did to prepare for my exams, it seems like Blankman is very accurate in her retelling of the historical events in “Prisoner of Night and Fog.” The romance is absolute perfection: sweet, slowly developing and tragically forbidden. And, maybe I just have a thing for handsome, ambitious male reporters, but Daniel stole my heart.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book has to be one of my all time favorites! Sequel,please!
JenLBW More than 1 year ago
I actually don’t generally read books that are set in the WWI or WWII era. I’m not sure why but maybe because it’s a sad thing. So reading The Prisoner of Night and Fog was set out of the norm for me but I have to say it was a good book to do that with. I think the author did a wonderful job of taking fiction and then weaving it into fact. Plus there is great Authors note that explains what things were changed and added. I admit I felt dumb because there is one of the characters that  totally went over my head until the end of the book because I was saying the name wrong. Gretchen really changes throughout the book. She starts off with the ideals that are ingrained in from childhood. On how to think like a National Socialist Party Member but there is also something in her that whispers doubts about it. She repeats it to herself like her life depends on it and in a way it does. It isn’t until she has some eye opening experiences that really make her begin to finally think for herself. Gretchen is actually quite clever and intelligent but it’s almost like she refusing to see what was in front of her because she knew it would change her world forever. Once she crosses those lines though she becomes a different and free Gretchen. I really liked the way her character develops through the book.  I also really like Daniel as well. Of course it’s still a fiction novel but their interactions at first seem more realistic to me. They are both suspicious of one another and there are times when Daniel is not sympathetic. He gets mad at how she acts and calls her out on it. He doesn’t take her naivety as an excuse and encourages her to think for herself. I think he is an important part to the growth of her character and grows a bit himself because of it. I felt like it’s hard not to like him. Plus once you have his loyalty you can tell it’s an all in thing with him. I have to tell you from the get go Reinhard is one really scary dude. I mean really scary, through the whole book you feel like he’s going to pop out of the cracks in the sidewalk. Kind of put me on edge. The plot is a rough one, it’s so sad to see people treated they way they are just because of their religious beliefs. It’s an interesting approach to Hitler and some of the reasoning of why he targeted Jews. I think it made me sad reading because I know what comes next for the world of Hitler and you want someone to beat the snot out of him in the book. You just think, why are people listening to this. Besides the Hitler portion there is also a bit of murder mystery. Although I liked the intrigue I didn’t feel myself absorbed in at as much as maybe I should have been. I’m not sure why but it just didn’t give me that I need to know what happened right now feeling. I think because there are so many things going on in this book that you have plenty of things to focus on. I mean just things like the mistreatment of those of Jewish faith, mistreatment of women, mental illness and just the whole who do you trust thing. I didn’t feel overwhelmed I thought it was all threaded into the story nicely. I liked the ending it was fast paced and stressful. Just how like a book like this but satsifying where it left off. I was definitely good with it. So this isn’t going to be your people dancing in flower fields type of book. I felt there was an intenseness to it because of the subject matter. I really enjoyed it though and for me who is not strongly interested in this era, it definitely sparked something. Plus a great Author’s Note at the end that I recommend reading. 
ABookVacation More than 1 year ago
This historical fiction novel is completely different from other’s I’ve read, mainly in that is focused on Hitler’s rise to power… but not as the Hitler we know, but rather as “Uncle Dolf.” We see his rise to power through the eyes of his “adoptive” niece, Gretchen, a young woman who hangs on the very words of Uncle Dolf, idolizing him; he can do no wrong—that is, until he does. Gretchen has grown up without a father. Her deceased father is well respected in Hitler’s circle as the man who sacrificed himself to save Hitler, but as the story unfolds, Gretched learns that not everything she’s been told is indeed true, and the bullet hole in the back her father’s tunic, as well as some sleuthing and a friendship from an unlikely source, lead Gretchen to finally begin questioning everything she’s been led to believe. With a sociopathic brother who’s hatred for the Jews minimally outshines his hatred for Gretchen, the world collapses on Gretchen when her brother viciously beats her and Uncle Dolf stands by and does nothing. No reprimand, instead telling Gretchen that it was her fault to evoke the anger of her older brother. Beginning to see the light behind Hitler’s ways, and befriending a Jew, the worst offence she could do during this perilous time in German history, Gretchen must decide what is truth, what is right, and ultimately, what she believes. This was a very interesting story, though I will admit that the mystery of it all didn’t really do much for me as a reader. My extreme dislike of Hilter and his entire regime made me automatically trust those stating he was a liar, and I held no doubt in my mind that Gretchen’s father was murdered by his own people, with Hitler at the forefront. That being said, Hitler is shown in two different lights here—the doting guardian, and the awful racist coward that he truly is. Though Gretchen loving looked up to Uncle Dolf—as any child would who doesn’t know any better, I was thankful to see her begin to pull away from him, even the slightest, knowing it could result in her ostracizing and possible death. She is a likable and strong character, but it takes her time to really come into herself and to figure everything out. I would have liked a little more fleshing out of her character, and that of Daniel, the young Jewish reporter she begins to fall for. I also would have liked a little more action—the story did seem to drag just a little bit, becoming convoluted with side plots and stifling the main ones, such as the mysterious circumstances of Gretchen’s father’s death. But overall, it is well written and worth the read.
kimberlyfaye More than 1 year ago
Historical fiction has never been one of my favorite genres. Despite that, I felt compelled to read this book because the subject and the premise was so interesting to me. Boy am I glad I did. Is all historical fiction this good? If so, I really need to branch out into this genre more frequently. The Prisoner of Night and Fog is a story that sucked me in nearly immediately with a combination of interesting characters, lovely writing and a well-paced plot. Gretchen was a fantastic protagonist. This young lady underwent quite a transition in this book. When we’re first introduced to her, she seems fairly weak and prone to believing everything people tell her. Particularly the things her Uncle Dolf tells her. It isn’t until her eyes are opened by a chance encounter with a Jewish guy that she begins to question the things she has been told all her life. In the end, she becomes a strong, brave and likable heroine. Her character growth is truly phenomenal.  A lot of what I found most interesting about this book was not the romance or the action, though I enjoyed both of those a lot. Who doesn’t love a good forbidden romance after all? The character studies and mention of mental illness, particularly with regards to Hitler and Gretchen’s brother Reinhard, were fascinating to me. Of course, these studies also came with a lot of disturbing details about past behavior of both of these characters.  While I understand this was a fictional story, I know a lot of it was based in fact. The behind-the-scenes look at the charming Adolf Hitler and at those in his inner circle, was absolutely intriguing. Unsettling, but fascinating. This was an ambitious book. I mean, it’s Hitler. To start off a book with a young character who believes all of his theories (even though she doesn’t really understand what he’s saying) and supports him, have her come face-to-face with one of his hated enemies, the Jew, and save him and then have her ultimately question everything she’s ever known her entire life? Intense. It was incredibly well-done, too.  If you’re a fan of historical fiction, or if you’d like to dip your toe in the waters and see if you might like it, I can’t recommend this book highly enough. It wasn’t an easy book to read because of all the hate speech, but that’s to be expected. Again, Hitler. This book is set in one of those dark times in history that it’s impossible to believe happened less than century ago. Unfortunately, it did. But I love the way Anne Blankman handled it in this book with fantastic characters (both good and bad), a plot that sucked me in and made me not want to put the book down, a sweet forbidden love story, eye-opening revelations and a fair bit of action. I tend to get bored with historical fiction and walk away from it. I was never in danger of doing that with The Prisoner of Night and Fog. I want to be clear there’s no cliffhanger, but I still can’t wait to get my hands on the sequel to see where the author takes these characters next.  I received a copy of this book from the publisher, vie Edelweiss, in exchange for an honest review.