Monday, 24 November 2014

Prisoner Of Night And Fog

Prisoner Of Night And Fog
Rating: 5/5
Buy Or Borrow: Buy
Source: Copy courtesy of Bookbridgr

Munich, 1930's, Gretchen Muller has grown up in the midst of the National Socialist party, under the wing of her Uncle Dolf, after her father was killed protecting him. Gretchen is his favourite pet, but there are secrets buried deep, secrets that are going to change the way Gretchen see's her "Uncle Dolf". Not to mention her brother's obvious diagnosis as a Psychopath. Gretchen does everything Hitler and her brother tell her to do, but when she meets a reporter, Daniel, who happens to be a Jew, her eyes are opened. According to her Uncle and brother she should despise him, but despite this she listens to what he has to say, and starts to work with him to uncover the truth of her fathers murder. You see, he was clearly shot in the back as well as the front, which means he must have been shot by one of his fellow comrades. There's also a liiitttllee bit of attraction to him that she finds herself unable to fight!

Gretchen has to investigate her friends, and when she's most in need, it would appear none of them are willing to help her. Particularly best friend Eva, who has been telling Hitler, her beau, things about Gretchen. When another friend is killed in suspicious circumstances and Gretchen see's the truth of Hitlers words....Gretchen is going to have to decide where her loyalties lie. And she's determined to dig up the truth.

I was curious about this book because a while ago I grabbed Code Name Verity from the library and absolutely devoured it, and I loved it, so obviously I wanted to read more by the author!

This book is truly beautiful. The prose, the taking of a villainous character, who no-one really knows what he was like and giving you a glimpse at him. A hint of a softer side, masking something sinister. It made him more human, I guess, more personal and infinitely more creepy. Not to mention the horror when you realize, that yes, a lot of them didn't realize what was really going on, what the real plan was, and how easy it was for characters to believe him, to see his viewpoint.

The authors research is astounding, and if you want to know more, her authors note provides plenty of additional information, as the book isn't saturated with too much information that you're ploughing through it. You concisely are given a lot of historical information, a lot of the time very subtly, and it's all expertly incorporated in to the narrative, not only to give you an understanding of the time, the mood on the streets and the thinking of a lot of German citizens, but to create a setting and world, so authentic that you really feel like you've time traveled back to the time of the book and are lurking on street corners spying on the characters. The story, much like the setting is very authentic and organic, with truth rooted everywhere.

The plot has more going on than first appears. While the main point of the story is Gretchen trying to solve the mystery of her father's murder and falling in love with Daniel, subtly, in the background almost, you watch Hitler's rise to power, how things started off and then eventually started to escalate. I'm actually ashamed of myself that I didn't quite twig who Eva was, I mean her name and her surname where mentioned, and I was totally engrossed in the story, but it wasn't until a certain part of the story, when a truth came out that I was like OOOOHHH! I must confess that I had no idea who Geli was, or her relation, and now I'm incredibly curious! Did Hitler kill her and then give an Oscar worthy performance? Or something else?

This book was so, incredibly atmospheric, and I must say the premise was unique. Hitler and the inner circle of the Nazi party from the view point of a girl who has grown up in the center of it, and has no idea what he's really like, fast becoming disillusioned. I know a fair bit about WW2, like most of the British public, we covered it in History at school and I'm a bit of a History nerd so I've read many a book, and been on a school trip to Berlin to see the historical sights, some more heartbreaking than others, but everything has stayed with me and I will admit, while knowing, very vaguely, that Hitler was in WW1 and injured, I didn't know much about his life before WW2, now, obviously I do, and I have a more complete picture.

Like I said, the book is atmospheric, the atmosphere oozes off the page and infects you. You can feel the adoration towards Hitler, but also the huge dose of fear at the same time, the tension on the streets, the barely leashed violence of Gretchen's brother, you feel all of that and more. While, obviously, he was a terrible, terrible man, and that's being polite. I will admit that he was quite fascinating in this book, or at least his psychology was, the way he thinks. He was so very patriotic, but it was so very warped and incredibly unsettling. He pretty much is a master of manipulation, manipulating everyone around him, as Gretchen realized, he was to her what she needed him to be. It was a true insight in to him, but still leaves you wondering, like I said about Geli, if he had any involvement or in fact did kill her himself, then I'm not sure there are words to express just how incredibly mentally effed up he was, you know? More than we already know I mean.

The characters, fictional to start with, where all very real, I'd imagine for people with or without knowledge of his inner circle it would be difficult to ascertain who was real and who was not. Each of these fictional characters organically fit in to the story, they're all full of depth, in some cases their psychology is morbidly fascinating, but there is so much depth to the thoughts of the characters and they all come alive off the page. Gretchen, I mean, wow, what a heroine, if I was her, I'd have been terrified and done nothing, or legged at the first opportunity. She's so incredibly brave. I mean the courage shown was incredible, she's an incredible character!

As for the real characters, I know even less about the others mentioned than I did about Hitler, and I feel like I got a real feel for them, and what they may have been like, as well as getting a feel for the fictional characters. You get such an insight in to other real life characters, not just Hitler, but Geli, Eva, Hess and many others. Not all of them where as you'd think they where, I don't think. Eva seemed incredibly naive or desperate to be loved, one of the two, and that's not at all like I thought she was. There's a line in the book, from I doctor, I believe it was, who said something along the lines of the National Socialist party being full of the most mentally ill individuals  in one group, narcissists and psychopaths and so on. I honestly think that's so incredibly true, and is a suspicion I would imagine, I'm not sure if it's ever been said before!

Like I said, all of this, the historical detail and such, is woven in to an intriguing and engaging narrative, that will have you on the edge of your seats at parts, and will really make you feel some strong emotion. I felt so angry on Gretchen's behalf more than once, and pure hatred for her brother, I didn't have a very high opinion of her mother either, then you feel heartbreak and profound sadness as well as horror. This book doesn't read like a history textbook, don't worry, what I'm trying to say is that it's all woven together to create a fast paced, mysterious plot that will keep  you turning the pages and the book glued to your hand.

Prisoner Of Night And Fog features characters that will fascinate you as well as repel you, and others that you can't help but love, a plot that has many facets and will keep you engaged the entire way through, and plenty of history woven in to it so you come away with such a great understanding of the time period and the events that happened. This book will also make you feel all the feels, for lack of a better description! The book has it's light moments, and then it has it's moments where the menace pretty much oozes off the page and you feel it all around you. Truly incredible, and I'm intrigued to see what's going to happen in the next book!

No comments:

Post a comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...