Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke
by Anne Blankman
Original Publication Date: April 21, 2015
Length: 406 pages
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Obtained Via: I received an advanced reader’s copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my final opinion of the work.
#2 in Prisoner of Night and Fog
View at the Traffic light:
I read Prisoner of Night and Fog last year and loved it, so of course I was hopeful about Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke. . . but not gonna lie, this book made me wish Prisoner of Night and Fog had been a standalone. It’s not a bad book, but for me it didn’t add a whole lot to Gretchen and Daniel’s story, and definitely didn’t need as many pages. If anything, this could have been a sequel novella and still had the same storyline and emotional affect.
Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke finds Gretchen and Daniel going back to Germany and getting wrapped up in a mystery when Daniel is framed for murder. There are side points to this mystery as well, including an arson that really happened in history, and Daniel and Gretchen trying to figure out who is behind what. There’s a lot of political intrigue, which sounds exciting, but isn’t always. There are some great parts, don’t get me wrong, but on the whole I thought Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke lacked the page-turner pacing that was a huge selling point of the first book for me.
I think my main issue is that the characters felt a bit. . . stagnated. It’s not that they didn’t grow or change, because they did, but they didn’t get the same growth process that happened in the first book. Prisoner of Night and Fog was so character-driven by Gretchen’s shifting opinions and allegiances. It was interesting because we got to go along the journey of Gretchen realizing how much she had been influenced by the people around her and how much that impacted her thinking, and often just how immoral it was. Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke focused more on the plot and mystery. There are a LOT of scenes of character introspection from Gretchen, don’t get me wrong, but it takes them awhile to go anywhere.
One aspect I did really enjoy was the romance. It’s rare to see this kind of romance in a sequel in YA. Books need conflict, but to often when that comes to romantic relationships things tend to get big and dramatic. There are issues that Gretchen and Daniel have to work out, but the whole thing is handled so maturely for the most part. I don’t mind when characters in YA are immature because it IS YA and we all have those growing periods, but I think it would have felt weird if Blankman had gone that route, so I’m glad she didn’t. Daniel’s a little bit older and while Gretchen’s still in school she’s also been through a lot, so the way they approach their relationship is a different dynamic from what you usually see. *THAT* was great and kept me reading.
This book was good enough that my feelings about it tip towards the positive side, but I didn’t love it at all like I did with the first one. Some of the plot points felt force and the book as a whole felt kinda unnecessary, but I did love where Blankman took the relationship between Gretchen and Daniel. 3/5 cupcakes.