This book me took me a while to read, both because in all honesty it’s not genre I usually read and so it took me a while to really get into it, and because I’ve been so damn busy!
“soon she wouldn’t witness the miracle of blood and sinew responding to her thoughts. Soon she wouldn’t feel anything at all.”
Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke tells the story of Gretchen, a former family friend of Adolf Hitler, who progressively finds out that things are not all what they seem. In falling in love with a Jewish boy, Daniel, and having to face all the consequences that come with it during the unfolding of Nazi Germany, all the truths Gretchen once thought she knew start falling apart. The mesmerising authority figure of her childhood, Hitler, is not as charming and fantastical as he once seemed, and she even realises that her own father had his flaws. This applies to so many of us, the naïve view we have of our parents when we’re young is often faulted and tinged with childhood idolization before realising that they are in fact not as perfect as we thought and we could be a better person than them of we chose.
Additionally, all the stereotypes Gretchen has ever known are called into question throughout her evolution within the book. Jews are obviously not the “virus” that she was taught they were and even the corrupted and evil criminals she expects when she meets The Ringvereine men (a gang of criminals persecuted by the Nazis), she finds that they are much more complex than that. They treat her with kindness and welcome arms and Gretchen is surprised to see that their leader, Friedrich, is so kindly, especially in his gentle attitude towards his children, proving himself to be a better father than the upright National socialist her own father was.
“what would death be like? The fields of wildflowers and angels her childhood priest had preached about, or a void of blackness and silence?”
The only negative thing I can think to say is that at times I felt like Gretchen’s thought process was oversimplified and 2-dimensionalised , she would make correct decisions without explanation or deliberation, like when looking for the door to the Reichstag building, she managed to bypass two sets of forked corridors and get to her desired destination by an utter and complete miracle.
Despite knowing what was going to happen in terms of the historical aspect of the book, as I knew what the events were that led to Hitler becoming Chancellor, and later on Führer, especially regarding Enabling Act, the fact that the story intertwined fiction with history meant that you could really focus on the main story and become invested in the heart-wrenchingly beautiful relationship between David and Gretchen without the fact that you knew what was going to happen historically becoming an anticlimax.
Thank you to bookbridg and Headline Publishing for sending me this book, all opinions (and this whole review in fact) are my own!
Opinions/comments – tell me what you think! And if you haven’t read it, would you like to?
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