by Anne Blankman
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Release Date: April 21st 2015
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?
We rejoin Gretchen and Daniel as they are living in Oxford now after managing to escape from Hitler. When Daniel gets a disturbing telegram, he takes off back to Germany. When Gretchen then gets a telegram learning that Daniel has been accused of a murder he didn’t commit, she takes off after him. They find themselves back in the demon’s lair, while trying to prove Daniel’s innocence to clear his name and flee back to England they unravel yet more of Hitler’s lunacy and conspiracy.
I’m fascinated how Blankman plunges us into such a interesting point of history. On the side I don’t think you really see. You can tell this is someone who does thorough research because of how well the fiction is mixed with the fact. I found myself thinking, oh I remember reading about that. It’s crazy to find yourself in Germany during such a scary time and I felt like she does such a great job of reconstructing it in your mind. I was completely immersed in her world building.
I liked Gretchen, she is a very clever girl. In the quiet cunning kind of way. She also has a lot of emotional trauma to deal with. Being back in Germany just triggers memories. Even though she recovers more about her brother Reinhard and where his hate for her stems, she still can’t forgive him for his actions. She powers through, finding her center.
At times I was frustrated with Daniel. Gretchen thinks of him as being Selfless where I thought of him being selfish. He claims to only need Gretchen but we find out that is not true. He finds life in chasing down the bad guys. As much as clearing his name was important, I thought he should have chosen keeping Gretchen safe over it. I had a hard time agreeing with his actions. Although I feel like he comes to a little bit more of realization that sometimes chasing a dream makes you lose sight of the dream you already have you grasp on.
I loved reading about the Ringverein and the Iron Fist Friedrich. I thought it was such a cool thing to incorporate.
The book is definitely a thriller. Gretchen and Daniel are constantly having to dodge and escape danger. Making you quickly turn through the pages to find out what is going to happen next.
Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke is a strong sequel from Anne Blankman. Bringing parts of the first book in with a fresh new part of the story. I loved how well the history is woven in with the fiction.
After earning a master's degree in information science, Anne began working as a youth services librarian. Currently, she lives in southeastern Virginia with her family. When she's not writing young adult fiction, she's playing with her daughter, training for races with her husband, working at her amazing library branch, learning to knit (badly), and reading.
Anne Blankman is the author of PRISONER OF NIGHT AND FOG, the first in a three-book deal slated for publication in spring 2014 from Balzer + Bray | HarperCollins. She is represented by Tracey Adams of Adams Literary.