I always scold people for starting with the second book in a series; I just think that is so wrong! However, I just did it myself and I’m glad I did! I usually refuse to read anything about World War II or the Holocaust, but a book that Mr. Vallee ordered just caught my eye and I just started it. The book is called Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke and the author is Anne Blankman. I think the book caught my eye because the cover photo reminds me of a gothic novel and in November I’m drawn to atmospheric books like that. Well, as soon as I opened the book I realized that it was not in fact a gothic novel. Instead, it’s about Gretchen Whitestone, who is living and going to school in Oxford, England in the 1930s; she lives with a family who loves her and has an adoring boyfriend named Daniel. Whitestone is not Gretchen’s last name; she and Daniel have escaped Germany, where Adolf Hitler was a close friend of Gretchen’s father and his mistress Eva Braun was her best friend. This is when I realized that this is a sequel. The first book is called Prisoner of Night and Fog and I think it’s about Gretchen’s original escape from Germany.
I found this book really intriguing; I love it when an author thinks about what it might be like for an average teenager during a particular time in history. Of course, Gretchen isn’t really an average teenager since she used to call Hitler “Uncle Dolf.” I get the feeling from Conspiracy that the first book shows how Gretchen comes to see how evil Hitler is; she also falls in love with Daniel, who is Jewish. In Conspiracy Gretchen follows Daniel back to Germany when he receives word that his cousin has been attacked. Gretchen must help Daniel find out what happened to his cousin and then escape Germany again. In the meantime she must face Uncle Dolf one more time. That is the most powerful scene in a book filled with them. There is a lot to think about in Conspiracy, most notably what happens when your childhood beliefs have been turned upside-down. Now I can’t wait to read Prisoner of Night and Fog.