Friday, September 13, 2013

Review: Night Witches

Night WitchesAuthor: L.J. Adlington
Release date: September 5th 2013
Publisher: Hodder Children's Books
Paperback, 336 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: The Book Depository

A supernatural thriller-romance set in an all-girl teenage bomber-pilot regiment, combining witchcraft and legend.
Rain Aranoza is a teenage bomber-pilot from Rodina, a nation of science and fact ruled by the all knowing Aura, where the belief in witches or any type of superstition is outlawed. Rain's regiment is made up of only teenage girls and their role is vital to the war effort against the Crux, a nation of faith and belief, where nature and God are celebrated and worshipped.
But Rain is struggling with another battle. She's always had a sense that her nature is different from everyone else's, and that a dormant power threatens to burst out of her.
When she encounters a young Scrutiner she falls in love with him, but is torn between what she has been taught is right, and what feels right. As her understanding of her latent power grows, the enemy threatens both her friends and her love. She can no longer ignore the power but she must choose how she uses it ...
But what will she lose in the process?
Teenage fighter pilots. Did you read what I just wrote? Because I’m not kidding here: Teenage. Fighter. Pilots.

Can I end my review here?

Because really, those three words should be enough to make any living soul desperate to read Night Witches. Teenagers are flying planes and fighting wars, people, facing enemies both human and supernatural. For those of you who don’t know, night witches were Soviet female military aviators in World War II. L.J. Adlington, inspired by their story, created a whole new world in which teenage girls fly military airplanes against a dangerous enemy.

Rodina is a nation willingly lead by an artificial intelligence, Aura. It is the source of all knowledge and the only real decision maker in the country. Not connected, the citizens are lost since they rely on Aura for everything. They are proud of themselves for shedding the confines of religious beliefs and turning entirely to technology. But at night, when no one is listening, there are whispers of witches just beyond Rodina’s borders. There, the Crux reside, a far more primitive, superstitious nation, and the war between the two is brewing.

Rain Aranoza is a girl who is constantly underestimated – by her parents, her cousin and everyone else who matters – until she is invited to take part in a new fighter pilot program. Suddenly, Rain is flying Crux airplanes and discovering new and shocking truths about herself. During this time, she meets Reef, a silent and competent Scrutiner (kind of a law enforcement) and even though he’s dangerous for her on many levels, she finds herself unable to stay away.

It’s easy enough to draw a parallel between Rodinians and their connection to Aura and our own dependence on the internet. The world Adlington created is a great analogy for our world, and the advantages and flaws she skillfully pointed out can easily be applied to us. The paranormal element, which I won’t go into for fear of spoiling things, is just as fascinating.

Night Witches is elegantly written and gorgeously atmospheric. Adlington’s descriptions are minimal, yet vivid and strong and beautiful. She is prone to stringing very short sentences that give her narrative a staccato rhythm, which, instead of making her prose seem choppy, makes it fluid, distinctive and unique.

I strongly recommend this for those of you who occasionally like to step away from tropes and expectations. Night Witches is a gorgeous story and one I’m sure you won’t regret reading.
L.J. Adlington will stop by The Nocturnal Library in October to talk about the dark Russian mythology she researched for her novel.

A copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher for review purposes. No considerations, monetary or otherwise, have influenced the opinions expressed in this review.


  1. When you say teen pilots it always reminds me of Code Name Verity :) I have seen this one around and it really sounds like something else so I need to get it. I love when descriptions are lovely and to the point. Great review Maja :)

  2. Oooh, I'm so interested in this now. I hadn't even heard of it before, but fighter pilots sound fabulous, as does Russian lore. Plus, you know how I like my unconvential YA!(: Onto my TBR this goes - brilliant review, Maja!

  3. Teenage fighter pilots? That's all I need to know to make me want to read this!

    Great review, Maja! <33

  4. Yep, you got me on Teenage Fighter Pilots! And the rest of your review just made me more sure of wanting to get! Adding it to the TBR list now!

    Thanks for the review and recommendation, Maja!

  5. First off, that is a completely trippy cover. Holy cow. Second, TFPs?!? Awesome. I actually wanted to be a fighter pilot when I was in high school. Of course, that's when Top Gun came out...I think I just wanted to meet Tom Cruise (before he went nutty, though he seems to be improving) and watch half-naked, ripped pilots play beach volleyball.

  6. Why have I not seen this one before now? Great review Maja, I think I need to add this one to my TBR pile!!

  7. Wow! It's amazing that she was able to write short syntax well and I like reading books with descriptions that are not overbearing. And "teenage fighter piolets" sure is a turn on. Splendid review!

  8. Oh wow. Teenage fighter pilots? They weren't fighters but this reminded me a little of the girls from Code Name Verity and Rose Under Fire. :) The supernatural spin on this sounds super interesting. Will definitely be coming back to check out the post on dark Russian mythology... sounds so intriguing! Great review! :)

  9. How did I miss this?! Teenage fighter pilots is all I needed to hear. And that book description has everything that I want in it. I'm so glad to see you enjoyed this, Maja. I quite like the sound of the writing here and REALLY love the premise. I'll be sure to get my hands on a copy as soon as I can.

  10. I have never seen this one before, so thanks for putting it on my radar. It sounds awesome - and I LOVE that cover!! I'm very curious about the supernatural element. :)

  11. This sounds amazing! Teenage fighter pilots got me. Thanks for the heads up

  12. Very intriguing! I didn't know the story was inspired by the Soviet female military aviators in World War II. I just read the first chapter on amazon - it's refreshing to see how short sentences can convey so much in just a few pages. Thanks for sharing.

  13. WOW! Why have I never heard of this book before today? Big fail on my part. This story sounds amazing, and the cover is GORGEOUS. I can definitely see the soviet influences in the shedding of religion. Also the fighter pilots. FUN. Is this a series or a standalone? THANK YOU for this review.

  14. Well hello..freaky cover and awesome synopsis..and yes, you could have stopped at Teenage fighter pilots! Wonderful review, you gave me shivers, and I so want to read this!

  15. Why is this the first time I heard of this? Well actually the second since I did get it added on the Wicked schedule today, finally. You caught my attention with Teenage. Fighter. Pilots..... I need this now!

  16. What! That sounds awesome! How on Earth had I not heard about it before.

    Great review. I'm adding this to my TBR list.

  17. This sounds like a really diverse and different story. I'll have to add this one to my TBR list ASAP. Great review!

  18. This sounds like such a brilliant book, and yes I ended your review with "Teenage Fighter Pilots" because I didn't want to spoil it and it was enough for me to go buy it a read it. Hehe! Brilliant review, Maja! :)

  19. This one is new to me but it sounds interesting. Great review!

  20. These girls sound bad ass. This book as well. :) You couldn't have sold this book more than your intro.

  21. How have I not heard of this?! Well this sounds like a must read to me!

  22. Hmmm, I was caught by the cover. I know I shouldn't say that, but it has really made me curious. And sounds awesome! :D

  23. This sounds unique and engaging. Teenage pilots and gorgeously atmospheric? Count me in. Thanks for the cool review, Maja! How did I miss this one?


  24. I strongly recommend this book to anyone looking for a strong YA science fantasy featuring diverse characters in an incredibly well-constructed world. Right, I'm off to find more books by this author.

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