THE DARKEST HOUR by Caroline Tung Richmond


Age Range: 12 - 14
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A girl spy in Nazi-occupied France contends with a dastardly Nazi plot as well as treason within the Allied ranks.

Sixteen-year-old Lucie, heartbroken at her beloved brother's death in action, sneaks away from home to join the Women's Army Corps. The French-speaking, white Baltimore native is promptly (if implausibly) recruited into Covert Ops, an all-female espionage division. Though tops in her class during training, Lucie struggles in the field, where the job of killing her targets after extracting all necessary information makes her too squeamish to excel. Perhaps she can please her irritable commander with her few extracted rumors of the dreadful and mysterious Operation Zerfall. Before Lucie learns anything further, Covert Ops dissolves into chaos. Despite her junior status, Lucie's sent to interrogate a defecting Nazi—about Operation Zerfall. A cinematic combat sequence later (evoking more Kill Bill than another girl-spies-in-occupied-France novel, Elizabeth Wein's Code Name Verity, 2012), and Lucie has all the information Covert Ops needs. But trusting the wrong person drags Lucie into a dire situation that could turn the tide of the war for Germany. Characterization is thin, but secondary characters of color provide authentic diversity. The drama builds through interrogations, explosions, shoe daggers, and Nazi mad science; the entertaining, historically genuine (though often inaccurately depicted) James Bond gadgets and weapons keep pages turning.

Thrills, action, and the moral certainty of fighting Nazis drive this thriller. (Historical thriller. 12-14)

Pub Date: July 26th, 2016
ISBN: 978-0-545-80127-0
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Scholastic
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 2016


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