Flight, friendship, and feminism collide in this fantasy that draws heavy inspiration from the Soviet female bomber pilots of World War II known as the Night Witches.
In this USSR-influenced world, war seems eternal. Every Union resource is dedicated to the war; women use their spark magic to power the technology that shapes living metal into war machines while men and boys die on the front. Linné, the daughter of a general who dressed as a boy to join the war, and Revna, the disabled daughter of a convicted traitor, are each angry at a world that doesn’t have a place they belong, which brings them both to an experimental women’s flight regiment. The richly textured world, painted in snow and fire, filled with disparate, diverse people who all want to win the war, is background to a powerful, slow burning story that develops Linné and Revna’s reluctant friendship, their growing understanding of the world, and their emerging identities as soldiers who may not entirely trust the country they are willing to die for. Undercurrents of religion, hypocrisy, betrayal, and honor roil beneath the alternating third-person perspectives; hints of possible romances and likely bigger battles to come seem to promise a sequel or two. Linné is bronze-skinned and Revna is pale; descriptions assume a white default.
A fierce and compelling breakout debut that should not be missed. (author’s note) (Fantasy. 13-adult)