Series: Prisoner of Night and Fog #2
Published by Balzer + Bray on 21-04-2015
Genres: Historical, Young Adult
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?
17 months after barely escaping from Germany, Daniel gets a teleraph that his cousin has been badly beaten. Unable to sit in England and do nothing, he finds himself rushing back to Germany. When Gretchen finds out that Daniel has been accused of murder, she follows him to Germany to try and find him, in the hopes that they can prove his innocence. But 1930s Berlin isn’t safe for either of them now, and danger lurks on every corner.
While I really adored Prisoner of Night and Fog, I felt like it had reached quite a satisfying end, and so I had very mixed feelings going into Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke. I ultimately enjoyed it, but for me, it definitely didn’t live up to the first book. It took me quite a long time to get drawn into the story, although the second half had the gripping tension I expected from the first book.
Gretchen and Daniel remain together, but their relationship is certainly not perfect, as we find out early on. I loved the fact that they still had difficulties to work out, but I felt like the ‘awkwardness between them’ was repeated a lot throughout the book with neither trying to address it, which got tiresome. Having said that, I still liked both Gretchen and Daniel as characters, and although we don’t see a lot of them, I also really liked the Whitestones.
My reservations of Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke are perhaps down to the fact that it felt a little less believable than the first book. In Prisoner of Night and Fog, we fundamentally had a mystery, and a coming-of-age story where the young Gretchen begins to see that maybe what she’s been taught just isn’t true. We had a tense portrayal of a man who is both a father figure to Gretchen and also the infamous Adolf Hitler, a story dripping with tension and fear, lightened by the growing romance between Gretchen and Daniel. In Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke, in comparison, we had a plot that felt interesting, but at times unbelievable – I felt like in Prisoner of Night and Fog, they were playing with fire by getting together certainly, but they were facing, at that point, Uncle Dolf, more than Adolf Hitler. In Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke, Hitler has had 17 months to contemplate Gretchen’s treachery, and I felt that at this point, Gretchen and Daniel would have to be fools to think anyone Gretchen used to know, apart from very possibly Eva, would remain on their side.
Buy it? For me, unless you’re bothered about having the matching set, this is probably a borrow. (Though the cover is gorgeous so it might be worth it for the matching set!)
In a nutshell: An enjoyable story and worth a read, but just didn’t love up to the brilliant first book for me.