April 1, 2015

Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke - Anne Blankman

[This is the second novel in the series, so there are a few spoilers for the previous book. If you're so inclined, why not read my review of Prisoner of Night and Fog first instead?]

Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke book cover
Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke by Anne Blankman
Series: Prisoner of Night and Fog #2
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: April 21, 2015
Source/Format: Edelweiss (Thanks!) || e-galley
[I received this book from the publisher. This in no way affects the contents of my review.]

The girl known as Gretchen Whitestone has a secret: She used to be part of Adolf Hitler’s inner circle. More than a year after she made an enemy of her old family friend and fled Munich, she lives with a kindly English family, posing as an ordinary German immigrant, and is preparing to graduate from high school. Her love, Daniel Cohen, is a reporter in town. For the first time in her life, Gretchen is content.

But then, Daniel gets a telegram that sends him back to Germany, and Gretchen’s world turns upside-down. And when she receives word that Daniel is wanted for murder, she has to face the danger she thought she’d escaped-and return to her homeland.

Gretchen must do everything she can to avoid capture and recognition, even though saving Daniel will mean consorting with her former friends, the Nazi elite. And as they work to clear Daniel’s name, Gretchen and Daniel discover a deadly conspiracy stretching from the slums of Berlin to the Reichstag itself. Can they dig up the explosive truth and get out in time-or will Hitler discover them first?

Last year, when I read Prisoner of Night and Fog, I was captivated by Anne Blankman’s ability to tell a story that was disturbing and fascinating. It left a strong impression, and in spite of the fact that I was horrified and terrified, that impression was primarily positive. And so, it was with great anticipation that I cracked open Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke after a reread of its predecessor.

So, what did I think? Well, the first third of the story is pretty good. Gretchen and Daniel have been living free of the nightmare they left behind in Germany for a while, and it’s quite lovely. But things take a turn for the worse, and suddenly, both of them are back in the middle of the mess they left behind. Personally, the action really picked up when they were back in Germany for the second third. There’s a lot of close calls, gathering of evidence, working with friends old and new; it reads like an espionage tale with high stakes. 

However, it is the last third of the novel where things crescendo to the climax of the story that everything gets really riveting. It was hard to look away from the pages of the novel, in spite of the fact that there are some really awful things going on. This was the part that had me screaming (out loud and internally) because the emotions are so strong, and the twists happen so quickly. Blankman really writes an intense tale, and this part definitely shows that off the best.

If you’re interested in reading young adult historical fiction that has a distinctive take on history and compelling storytelling, then the Prisoner of Night and Fog series should be a set of companion novels to add to your reading list. While I personally feel like Prisoner of Night and Fog is stronger overall, Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke is still a welcome sequel (particularly if you like Gretchen and Daniel as much as I do) and certainly worth a read.


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