Remember my review of Night Witches by L.J. Adlington posted maybe 15 days ago? No? Here are three words to remind you: teenage fighter pilots! That's right. Girls fly airplanes. In battles. And they're teens.
Night Witches is a deliciously dark story that combines science fiction elements and Russian lore. I loved it so much that I immediately invited L.J. to write a Wicked post, which she did in a heartbeat because she's awesome. Here's what she shared:
Dare you go into the forest…?
by L.J. Adlington
Night Witches begins with a plane crash in a strange landscape crowded with curious black birds and carnivorous trees.
Forests in fairy-tales are full of danger, bewilderment… and possibilities. The heroine of Night Witches, Rain Aranoza, has always been told don’t step off the path. In fact, she comes to find it is only by getting lost that she can actually find herself.
In ancient stories, forests have spirits that rise from misted waters, or drop down with a shriek from the trees. Hungry beasts hunt and leave bones to bleach. Flower-filled meadows hide blood-sucking swamps.
Brooding at the dark heart of many Eastern European and Russian fairy-tale forests is the powerful crone Baba Yaga. A witch who won’t hesitate to eat or torture those she despises. Her house on stilts is ringed by a fence of fire-lit skulls, and she flies in a pestle and mortar.
There are many Baba Yaga tales, old and new. My favourite is the story of Vassilisa the Beautiful, who is sent by her step-mother (a type-cast villain, if ever there was one) to seek light at the witch’s home. Protected from Baba Yaga’s stone teeth by her birth-mother’s blessing, Vassilisa wins through and defeats her enemies.
So often modern fairy tales concentrate on the pink/pretty/princess themes. Fortunately, for every heroine who’s more likely to trip over her dress hem than stride out on adventures there are girls who are too resourceful to waste precious days wondering when a prince-type person might appear. Far from being scared by Baba Yaga’s skulls with fire for eyes, Vassilisa takes one of them up to light her way out of the forest. She’s not afraid to own some of the witch’s dark power. Baba Yaga is no Good Fairy Glinda of Oz. No fairy godmother. She’s a powerful primeval figure with control over night and day.
Be afraid, primped-up pampered princesses - be very afraid!
In Night Witches, Rain Aranoza’s journey is inspired by tales of girls who use cunning and courtesy to face fierce challenges in their quest for survival and success.
During World War II the great and gruesome Baba Yaga became an icon for a remarkable new generation of flying females in
, who were fighting a relentless invasion of their homeland. Their enemies named them Night Witches. These young women flew wooden bi-plane bombers instead of broomsticks. They were every bit as resourceful as fairy-tale heroines. Russia
I’ve told their stories in a new guise, as the futuristic fliers of Night Witches. I’ve blended fact and fairy-tale with my own imagination to create a story of loyalty, love and betrayal… and above all, a story about being true to yourself.
Writing Night Witches was a treacherous task at times. More than once I felt as if I was lost in a thorny forest of dead-end tracks, with sharp eyes watching and monsters waiting to pounce if I stumbled. Self-doubt is the hardest fear to face… but I fought back! The novel is written and waiting to be read! This storybook forest is full of teenage bomber pilots, fierce lovers and brave souls.
Like Rain Aranoza or Vassilisa I learned that if you never go into the forest, you’ll never know what you could find there.
Dare you stay safe…?
L. J. Adlington is the author of The Diary of Pelly D, which was named an ALA Best Book for Young Adults. She graduated from Cambridge University, and has lived and worked in Japan and Spain. She now lives in York, England, where she teaches hands-on history lessons for museums, schools, and historical sites.
A copy of Night Witches will be sent to one winner INTERNATIONALLY. Just enter the Rafflecopter below. I wish you all good luck.a Rafflecopter giveaway
Please visit other Something Wicked Returns posts around the blogosphere:
Ginny@Gin's Book Notes: Tori L. Ridgewood: Wind and Shadows
Susan@Taylor Made Ficition: Susan Arden: Collared for a Night
Diane@Strahbary's Fields: Robin Burks : Zeus Inc.