Blog Tour Review: We Rule the Night – Came for Girl Friendships, Stayed for Girl Friendships

book cover

Title: We Rule the Night
Author: Claire Eliza Bartlett
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: April 2nd, 2019
Genre(s): YA Fantasy, Steampunk
Subjects and Themes: Female Friendships, Feminism, History-Inspired
Page Count: 400 (hardback)

Rating: N/A

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Seventeen-year-old Revna is a factory worker, manufacturing war machines for the Union of the North. When she’s caught using illegal magic, she fears being branded a traitor and imprisoned. Meanwhile, on the front lines, Linné defied her father, a Union general, and disguised herself as a boy to join the army. They’re both offered a reprieve from punishment if they use their magic in a special women’s military flight unit and undertake terrifying, deadly missions under cover of darkness. Revna and Linné can hardly stand to be in the same cockpit, but if they can’t fly together, and if they can’t find a way to fly well, the enemy’s superior firepower will destroy them–if they don’t destroy each other first.
We Rule the Night is a powerful story about sacrifice, complicated friendships, and survival despite impossible odds.

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A fantasy military story with an all-female regiment and a “soft-spoken girl with a blunt, tight-laced girl” dynamic? Gosh, Claire, it’s like you know me.

I’ll be starting off with short bullet points for this beauty because this is so, so very last minute:

♥ This is a fantasy telling/dressup of the WW2 Night Witches, Soviet Union’s all-female bomber regiment (which seems to be a popular topic in fiction lately). I love the way the author constructed the world–the way it feels like a WW2 setting but with a steampunk flair. The girls pilot planes that are made of living metal, which means they can use magic (Weavecraft) to control it. Really cool stuff.

♥ The two main characters, Revna and Linné, are as different as they come. Revna has lost her legs in a factory accident and her use of prostheses makes Linné question whether she’s fit to be a pilot. Linné, on the other hand, is the daughter of a celebrated general and carries a “I’m better than this, why am I here” attitude. Their dynamic is a fascinating one, moving from hostility to respect and friendship.

♥ Girls risking lives for each other. Girls fighting alongside each other. Girls learning to trust each other. And girls supporting each other in an environment that believes women shouldn’t get involved in wars. (I hope you’ve been nodding furiously with each sentence.) It has it all and it does it well.

♥ My only real main problem was with the ending which I thought was rather shockingly abrupt.

Okay, well, awesome! That sounds pretty great, right? So why am I not giving it a rating?

Right. This is 100% on my end. We Rule the Night had the unfortunate timing of coming immediately after the most personal and emotionally draining book I’ve read in the past two years. My brain was (and still is) utterly scrambled and I couldn’t concentrate on anything else, especially other books. I mean, I would read a paragraph and ask myself, “Wait, what did I just read?” It’s ridiculous. It’s like trying to date just days after the (second) worst breakup of my life.

So I couldn’t give this book the full attention that it absolutely deserved, and any rating I give right now wouldn’t feel…fair. But make no mistake, this is a strong debut and I’m definitely going to be doing a re-read once I get my brain pieces back in order. And you should also pick it up because we need more stories about female empowerment floating around in our collective memories.

 

“That was the secret they shared as they held out their cups and got another splash of strong tea and tangy liquor. That was the secret they smiled over when they went to dinner. Not that they could fly, not that they could use the Weave. We can do anything.”

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Claire Bartlett lives in an enchanted forest apartment in Copenhagen with too many board games and too few cats.

Get more detailed information, like how many board games is too many, how many cats is too few, and what book-related beauties I’m working on by signing up for my newsletter.

 

TOUR SCHEDULE

Check out the rest of the tour stops HERE!

 

The Infernal Battalion – First Review!

Infernal battalionRating: 8/10

What better book to start off the blog than the finale of The Shadow Campaigns series?

We pick up right where Guns of Empire left off, with Winter in the Mountains and Marcus and Raesinia back in Vordan. Our heroes soon receive word that Janus bet Valnich, who was meant to go into quiet retirement, has instead declared himself Emperor. Marcus and Raesinia scramble to prepare the army to face their former ally, and Winter plans a way to destroy the Beast of Judgment before it reaches Vordan city.

Before I get into any details, I would just like to point out that there are TEN (!!) queer characters featured in this book, and all well-developed with crucial roles in the story. The number is practically unheard of in “mainstream” adult fantasy and I wanted to squeal with joy. This needs to be the norm in the genre, especially with books that feature large casts, and Wexler has taken a huge step in the right direction.

With that said, let’s talk about what worked and what didn’t work in this finale.

We get a bit of everything in this book: large-scale battles, small skirmishes, political machinations, and intimate character moments.

Marcus I still found the most boring of the trio. It didn’t help that he no longer had Janus to bounce off of. My interest did perk up near the end with a surprise reveal that I did not at all anticipate. That brings me me to the biggest gripe I have with the series as a whole: while Marcus and Raesinia form and sustain a close relationship, they rarely interact with Winter beyond the occasional professional dialogue. Moments near the end would have been so much more emotionally-charged had they had a deeper relationship than “You’re my colleague.”

Raesinia’s storyline is a bit more proactive, but she unfortunately decides to embroil herself in economic skullduggery. There are only a couple of fantasy book that has managed to make economics interesting for me (or at least, not so rage-inducing), and this wasn’t one of them. But I’m sure many people will love it. She continues to remind us just why she’s fit to be Queen, as she navigates the politics of Vorsk and Vordan with grit and cunning.

Winter is, really, the star of the story. She journeys from the Mountains to Vordan, and the people she meets along the way are very interesting, as well as the internal crises she faces. She alone has the means to defeat the Beast, but her abilities never feel overpowered, and she requires the help (and sacrifice) of many others to complete her quest. Her character arc is one of my favorites in fantasy–from a girl running from her past to a leader and role model for other young women, it’s been a blast seeing her grow into herself.

Janus is tied with Winter as my favorite character of the series and he’s indisposed for most of the book, which is disappointing but understandable. We are, however, treated to his own POV chapters for the first time and they offer fascinating glimpses into the man. We also delve into Janus’ backstory–his unfortunate childhood and the identity of Mya–and they further reveal his motivations.

The final showdown is exciting and fraught with tension–pretty much everything I wanted –and Jane’s character was handled in a pleasantly surprising way.

All in all, this was a very satisfying ending to a great series. It’s been an absolute pleasure getting to know these characters over the course of five books, and I’m proud of how far they’ve come. I’m crossing my fingers for another series set in the world, because the ending hints at a few things that might be brewing on the horizon.