Night Witches by LJ Adlington

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Night Witches by LJ Adlington

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Category: Teens
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Inspired by the story of the women fighter pilots of the Soviet army during WWII, Adlington's tale is set in an alternate but equally authoritarian and secular society. Interesting, exciting, and moreish.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 336 Date: September 2013
Publisher: Hodder
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 1444904310

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Rain Aranoza comes from Rodina. It's a nation of science and rationality. It holds no truck with superstition and religion. And, in the tradition of all authoritarian societies, it is ruthless in stamping out traces of the Old World and its belief in witches. Rodina is controlled by a network known as Aura and Aura encourages denunciations. Control is enforced by the Scrutiners and Aura instructs citizens in even the minutiae of their daily lives.

Despite this, daily lives are pretty good. Rodina's citizens live, work and love. They have families. And they are proud of their country. They are determined to defend it against the Crux, a neighbouring religious people. So when the Crux invade and Rain is called up to become a teenaged fighter pilot in an all-female regiment, she is prepared to fight with everything she has.

But Rain has a secret. She has visions of the future. And she can feel a dormant power within her that she can barely control. Can Rain trust the young Scrutiner she has fallen in love with? What is the truth of her nature? And can she help save Rodina from the Crux?

I thoroughly enjoyed Night Witches. Rain is a fantastic character - brave and foolhardy, lacking in self-confidence, loyal and dogged. But she's in danger through no fault of her own. I was rooting for her with everything I had. And I loved the idea of a teenage regiment, laughed at and mocked until it became clear that their country needed them more than it could ever have imagined. There's a real sense of genuine female empowerment in this book. The "main" theme of rationality vs religion is actually quite superficial. This is a story about otherness and about loyalty and betrayal. Can you be different and still belong? If you have power, how should you use it? Where to patriotism when your country is far from perfect?

Much as I enjoyed Night Witches, I think I enjoyed LJ Adlington's afterword even more. Honestly! I had never heard of the real Night Witches that inspired this book. They were a female bomber regiment in the Russian military during World War II. They flew harassment missions in wooden planes. Many earned Hero of the Soviet Union titles. Despite the authoritarian, denunciation society in which they lived, they were fiercely patriotic and incredibly brave. And I think it was a stroke of genius to replicate their story within the kind of dystopian setting so popular at the moment.

I thought this story was fab in any case, but now I know its inspiration, I think it's doubleplus fab. If you get my drift.

If Night Witches sounds right up your alley, you might also enjoy Silverhorse by Lene Kaaberbol. We had our reservations about What The Spell by Brittany Geragotelis. You might also enjoy The War of the Witches by Maite Carranza.

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Buy Night Witches by LJ Adlington at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Night Witches by LJ Adlington at


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