Modern Fantasy · Review · Young Adult

We Rule the Night by Claire Eliza Bartlett | Book Review

We Rule the Night by Claire Eliza Bartlett on a red-orange background

Publisher: Little, Brown and Company

Pub. Date: 2019

Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult

Pages: 393

Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

It’s been a long time since I read a fantasy book that included war and flight and that focused on women. I was more enticed to read Claire Eliza Bartlett’s We Rule the Night when it said one of the girls had been caught disguising herself as a man to join the military. We Rule the Night is a fantasy war novel about the first women’s air force in a faulty world where two young women must learn to trust each other to fly and make a dent against the enemy.

The two main characters the narrator focuses on are Linné Zolonova and Revna Roshena, who live in this country only referred to as “the Union.” Linné is the one who joined the army and lived as a man for several years, but it’s never said how she was found out. For one reason or another, she is offered a spot in this newly created women’s air force. Revna is a factory worker with prosthetic legs. When she uses banned magic to save herself and a member of the Information Unit, she is offered a spot too, but her magic is explicitly explained as necessary for flight. It’s also her chance to redeem her family’s name.

I liked seeing the contrast in how the girls reacted to the military environment and to each other. Revna takes well to the social environment and befriends all the girls, except Linné. She still has to fight to prove that she can serve her country while under suspicion for her disability and father’s traitor status. Linné, on the other hand, respects the military culture she has been in, so she can’t stand the girls not following rules and ultimately dislikes them as much as they do her. I liked watching them train separately and together, but I still have questions about why the plane hurt Linné when she powered it up. I also like seeing them struggle to respect and trust each other.

There are a few good points to the world building. I love the concept of living metal, which is affected by emotions and thoughts. I like that the technology is developed around the powers of the humans who use it, even if it’s hard to picture or get a real gist of how it works. I also like that it is believable that one branch of magic is banned until it’s not. And then it’s only for an exception.

My major problem with the world building is understanding why exactly the Union is at war with the Elda. Who are the Elda? What do they stand for? Why is the Union at war for most of Revna’s life? I need answers to these questions. I can understand to a degree that this story is not really intended to introduce you to the world with a convenient character, but there are ways to build the fantasy world with a limited, third person narrator. The Elda could still be painted as 2-D monsters, but there should at least be a government-approved reason for why the nation is at war.

If you like fantasy war books and books about women fighting in battle, you might enjoy We Rule the Night. The world building is just not well-developed for understanding the reason for the war or the way magic works.

2 thoughts on “We Rule the Night by Claire Eliza Bartlett | Book Review

  1. I really enjoyed this one, too! But I do wish more of the world had been explained. I especially wanted more information on the different types of magic and how they worked. The world building was fascinating. But also under-developed, I felt.

    Liked by 1 person

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