Review: Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke

Posted May 21, 2015

I received this book for free from bookbridgr, Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke by Anne Blankman
Series: Prisoner of Night and Fog #2
Published by Headline on 21st April 2015
Genres: Historical Fiction, YA
Format: Paperback
Source: bookbridgr, Publisher
Goodreads

The girl known as Gretchen Whitestone has a secret: she used to be part of Adolf Hitler's inner circle. When she made an enemy of her old family friend, she fled Munich to live in Oxford, posing as an ordinary German immigrant. Her love, Daniel Cohen, is a reporter in town, and Gretchen is content. Then a telegram calls Daniel back to Germany, and her world turns upside down when she learns that he is wanted for murder.

To save him, Gretchen must return to her homeland and somehow avoid capture by the Nazi elite. As they work to clear Daniel's name, they discover a deadly conspiracy stretching from the slums of Berlin to the Reichstag itself. Can they dig up the explosive truth and escape in time - or will Hitler discover them first?

in-brief

5-words

HATE, NAZIS, SURVIVAL, LOVE, FEAR

 

Things I liked

* the pace of the story

* the expansion of the story from book 1

* the education – I learned a lot

Didn't Like

* psychoanalysis felt rather forced in places

 

Who Should Read It

* fans of Prisoner of Night and Fog

* everyone else!

 

My Thoughts

If you haven’t read the first book Prisoner of Night and Fog then I suggest stopping here and maybe checking out my review of that instead.

I absolutely loved Prisoner of Night and Fog when I read it last year and Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke has been one of my most anticipated 2015 releases ever since.

Before starting this second book I was a little worried that I might have forgotten the fine details of Prisoner of Night and Fog. However, Anne Blankman soon quelled those fears by entwining reminders of book 1 in this narrative. Admittedly if I’d read this book straight after Prisoner of Night and Fog I might have found that a little irritating but for me, in this situation, it was perfect.

The book opens with Gretchen and Daniel in Oxford. Gretchen is living with the psychoanalyst Alfred Whitestone and his family (remember him from the first book?). She is happy, well fed and healthy. Daniel is working for a local paper – so they are both safe, in Britain. That is until Daniel takes off back to Germany following a telegram that his cousin is extremely ill after a horrific beating from the SA.

Gretchen is left in Oxford, wondering if she’ll ever see Daniel again. She herself receives a coded telegram from Germany telling her that the Nazis are aware of Daniel’s return to his homeland and, having accused him of a murder in Berlin, made him a wanted man.

Gretchen knows that she has to help Daniel and so she herself returns to Munich. If she is recognised, she knows she will be executed. However, she has to help Daniel and so the story moves to Germany, where Gretchen hunts down Daniel. Together they investigate this murder in a bid to clear Daniel’s name. They end up uncovering secrets, secrets that could cost them their lives.

Once again, I love the way that Anne Blankman has tied this fictional story of Gretchen and Daniel into real life history. I ended up building upon my (albeit limited) knowledge of National Socialist Germany. Getting caught up in the fictional aspect of the story, it’s quite easy to forget that the setting of this novel is real. These horrendous things really did happen to honest, innocent people. This is one of the things that I particularly like about this series – it makes you stop and think. This is particularly effective as a YA novel as it challenges and educates the reader.

As for the fictional side of Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke, I enjoyed it. It is fast paced, terrifying and thrilling. There’s so much fear in this book. Gretchen is terrified of coming eye to eye with Hitler again, of being caught, of Daniel being caught, of what will become of her friend, of what the future holds for Germany. I think Blankman has captured this aspect well. I could really feel the fear coming through her words, it pushed me to read on and on.

I found the psychological aspects of this book to be interesting, just as I did with Prisoner of Night and Fog. However the analysis of the psychological aspects felt slightly more forced in this second book. In the first, the characters of Hitler and Reinard made for natural psychoanalysis through the book. In book two, it’s Gretchen’s interest in psychology that is used. I found this to be less powerful.

That aside, this is a great read. It’s educational, thought-provoking and chilling. The ending of this book sets it up well for the third. I anticipate that book 3 will be as different as book 2 is to book 1, and I can’t wait to read on.

I definitely recommend this series.

about the author

 

About Anne Blankman

Anne Blankman was born in upstate New York and studied at Union College, during which time she did an exchange in York, England - a place she's always dreamed of returning to. She has since worked as a youth services librarian. The idea for her debut novel Prisoner of Night and Fog, came to her after she learned about Hitler's beloved half niece who shared his luxurious Munich flat. Anne began wondering what it would have been like to be a young girl growing up within the Nazi elite's inner circle and if it would have been possible to break free from it.

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