Adolph Hitler is a bit like an onion... he has a lot of layers. (Inappropriate Shrek reference). I thought I knew Hitler pretty well by now, I know of his art and his love of Eva Braun and of course, all the horrors that he created. After reading Prisoner of Night and Fog however, I feel like I know him a lot more. Creepily a lot more. Writing about Hitler, about someone who knew him, was always going to be a tough subject and I feel that Anne Blankman was the perfect person to attempt this feat.
The naiive female character may seem overdone, however in this Gretchen seemed almost needed, as she gave us an insight into what the non-Jewish residents of Germany were thinking the Jews were at the time and I learnt a lot from her. Gretchen doesn't stay naiive however, she's a very strong character that won't hold back from finding out the truth about her father's death, no matter what lengths she had to go to. She gets battered and bruised physically and mentally a lot of times but never gives up. I really admired her!
There is some romance in this, which I enjoyed. It didn't get in the way of the story and I think it helped the story, if anything. Peter, being Jewish, adds a lot of suspense and it's him that makes Gretchen see that all that she's been told by Hitler about Jews is a complete lie.
Speaking of Hitler, you really get to know him in this story. He appears a lot in this, Gretchen being one of his pets after all, and there's a few scenes about him that were seriously creepy and made me feel uncomfortable at times. This book covers his origins, before he really came into power so I'm looking forward to the sequel in a way but also worried for a lot of the characters in the story, particularly the Jewish ones.
You learn a lot of the history of the beginnings of the second world war, however, I didn't feel that there were any info-dumps. I've been the subject of historical info-dumps in the past (there's a joke there somewhere) and I was not appreciative of them at all but I don't ever remember feeling bored at any point during this book.
Prisoner of Night and Fog was researched thoroughly, and it really paid off. A lot of characters that are in the book were real people and Anne's research into Hitler's life and Germany at that time really helped me believe the story and I could almost believe that this was a real story, not a work of fiction. There were some other things I wanted to happen in the story that didn't, but I'm sure that these will all be mentioned in the sequel - mostly what happened to the characters during and after the war.