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Night Witches

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  529 ratings  ·  122 reviews
Sixteen-year-old Valya knows what it feels like to fly. She’s a pilot who’s always felt more at home soaring through the sky than down on earth. But since the Germans surrounded Stalingrad, Valya’s been forced to stay on the ground and watch her city crumble.

When her mother is killed during the siege, Valya is left with one burning desire: to join up with her older sister,
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published March 28th 2017 by Scholastic Press
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3.71  · 
Rating details
 ·  529 ratings  ·  122 reviews

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tl;dr: This book was so flipping interesting. It occurred to me, somewhere around the first quarter, that I had never read a WWII fiction book that took place in the USSR/Russia and I need to read more in the future, because the combination of that and Night Witches fascinated me so much. Plus, I really liked Valya as a character. That being said, I really wish this book was better written (even though it's probably meant for the younger end of the YA spectrum). It's definitely guilty of "tellin ...more
Alex (not a dude) Baugh
It 1941, and the Nazi have just begun Operation Barbarossa, their invasion of Russia. Nazi soldier have surrounded Stalingrad on three sides (the fourth side is the Volga River), making it impossible for people and supplies to get in or out of the city. After her mother was killed by a Nazi sniper, Valentina Petrovna Baskova, or Valya, 16, sees no reason for not joining her sister Tatyana as a Night Witch, a fighter pilot with the 588th Regiment. Her father, a pilot, hasn't been heard from since ...more
laurel [suspected bibliophile]
Rule #1: When writing historical fiction, get the facts right.

I'm not usually a nit-picky asshat (okay, that's totally a lie), but Operation Barbarossa was in June 1941. The Germans didn't reach Stalingrad until mid-to-late 1942. The Night Witches weren't flying missions until mid-1942. The author has the Germans in Stalingrad in 1941, sometime in September/October-ish (if I'm using the calendar from the book right), an entire year off (and logistically nearly impossible to get that far into Rus
Erika (OwlwaysReading)
Mar 22, 2017 marked it as unfinished-business  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1-top-tbr

Soo... excited! This article ^^^ has me so jazzed :D
Sep 01, 2017 rated it it was ok
The protaganist was a bit too "Western" in her thinking for her to be a believable Russian Night Witch. I was also disappointed in the author's writing, there was no suspense. The story was definitely told, not shown, with no real tension built. It was basically written as "and then, and then, and then". I wish I had read a non-fiction instead, which is a rarity for me.
I wanted more from this book. I enjoyed the subject and the characters. Their development was fantastic. It was a fascinating part of history that I knew nothing about. But it went too fast. I could have read another 200 pages about this. I wanted more depth and grit. Sometimes the speed was intense and I couldn't keep track of what was going on. Especially when listening to it on audiobook. That was difficult but it was still enjoyable and I liked the topic.

Conclusion: When I Find it On Sale
David - proud Gleeman in Branwen's adventuring party
Review to come
(I really will get around to writing this review, I swear!)

Until I read this book, I knew absolutely nothing about the women pilots who helped wage war against the Nazis on behalf of Russia during WWII. Dubbed the Night Witches because that's the time when they flew their missions, these women made a real difference in the direction the war was taking. The story focuses on sixteen-year-old Valentina Baskova whose father has taught her how to fly. While her home of Stalingrad suffers under a siege by the Germans, Valya desperately wishes that she was old ...more
Feb 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Despite a few minor quibbles(which I could very well be wrong about), I enjoyed the heck out of this. It’s a rip-roaring adventure, and it’s gritty enough for the age group for which it’s written. The protagonist’s references to Western novels didn’t jar. Valya comes from an elite family, and if you’ve read other novels of the period, you’ll see plenty of references to Dickens and other Western literature. I also felt that, despite the current situation, her grotesque description of Krushchev an ...more
Karen GoatKeeper
Hitler orders his army to invade the USSR in spite of a nonaggression pact. Valya must stay with her mother and grandmother in Stalingrad as the bombs fall and the snipers kill citizens. Their apartment is in ruins. And only Valya is left alive.
At last she is free to become a member, like her sister, of the Night Witches, all women air corps flying small, light aircraft bombing the German army, their supply depots, their tanks. Except she must make it across Stalingrad, the Volga River and into
Mar 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned-arcs
When I first learned about this book I knew that I needed to read it. It's totally up my alley. I'm a huge fan of historical fiction and I love unique kinds of WWII stories and books set in Russia. I got all of these things in the course of this book. It was everything I hoped it would be and it was really fantastic.

Part of what I really liked about this book was the fact that it is a book about World War II that felt both unique and familiar. The author did a great job in establishing the setti
Sep 13, 2018 added it
The story of both the Night Witches regiment and our main character's journey through the second world war is told in broad strokes. Valya is well-intentioned and empathetic, even if she often seems to be swept along by the story and her cultural references are suspiciously western. She tells us most of the story, although there are occasional bits where the narrative passes to others, and she tends to gloss over big portions of the time covered by the story. In some places, the story uses coinc ...more
Eliana Salazar
Sep 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book is interesting to read a female side of WWII, and one from Russia. I have never heard of the Night Witches until this book. This is a very important piece of history that is not discussed. These women turned the war in many directions and were pivotal in the Battle of Stalingrad. Even if the writing style, characters, and plot development are a bit too “packaged,” the historical information is rich and powerful. This is a great book to read on a rainy afternoon! You will walk away havin ...more
Sep 05, 2017 rated it it was ok
I enjoyed this as an introduction to a fascinating topic, but the author managed to take a fantastic, interesting topic and turn it into a bland middle-school report. There were glimmers of lovely prose through out, but not enough to elevate the rest of the book.
Oct 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Great book, I knew nothing about the Russian side of World War II. I love how strong these young women were. It is very sad to see what children were going through during this terrible time.
Stephanie Bange
Jul 19, 2017 rated it liked it
During the Seige of Stalingrad, sixteen-year-old Valentina Baskova – Valya – finds she is alone. Her father, a Russian pilot is MIA, her grandmother was killed during an explosion, her sister Tatyana has gone to join the Night Witches (a battalion of young women pilots), and her mother was killed by a sniper. Determined to join the Night Witches in action, she meets Yuri (a classmate who is now a renowned sniper), becomes proficient in trench warfare, and finally gets to fly. After many successf ...more
Cindy Mitchell *Kiss the Book*
Lasky, Kathryn Night Witches: a novel of World War II, 224 pages. Scholastic, MARCH 2017. Language: G; Mature Content: PG (some very mild racy talk); Violence: PG (war deaths).

Valya, 16, desperately wants to help protect her city of Stalingrad during the attempted Nazi invasion of World War II, by joining her sister Tatyana as a Night Witch – a female U2 pilot. Working tirelessly to take out Nazi searchlights and other targets. Even should she find her way to the Night Witches, she will still ne
Gabi Kucia
Feb 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 02, 2017 rated it it was ok
I had no idea that Russian women flew bombing missions during WWII. I'm intrigued by the subject and liked getting the Russian perspective on that period of history, but the execution left something to be desired. I think in the end I would have been happier with a non-fiction title about the Night Witches. Not a bad book, but not a favorite.
Jul 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Told as the personal recollections of sixteen-year-old "Valya," Night Witches is the story of the brave female pilots who helped the Russians defeat the Nazi invasion during World War II. Valya and her family are in Stalingrad when it is besieged by the Nazis. Her father is a pilot, MIA. Her sister joins the Night Witches, and Valya is left at home with her grandmother and mother. When she finally joins her sister in the 588th Regiment, she works hard to prove she is ready to be a pilot, too.

Sep 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Leah Cossette
This was the kind of book I would have liked to read when I was a kid.

Night Witches tells the story of Valya, a sixteen year old Russian orphan who, along with her sister Tatyana, joins the 588th Night Bomber Regiment, an all-female regiment of bomber pilots who spent the latter part of WWII harassing German troops. Dubbed the Night Witches, the regiment struck terror in the hearts of German ground troops.

Lasky’s novel is driven more by history than by plot. It opens in the rubble of Stalingra
Karen Gedeon
Night Witches written by Kathryn Lasky read by Ilyana Kadushin – tells the story of Valya, a sixteen year old living in Stalingrad when the Nazi’s stormed into Russia during WW2. Valya tells about the loss of her family: first her air force pilot father goes missing. Then her pilot sister joins the all-female regiment of fighter pilots called the Night Witches. Her grandmother is killed when a wall in her apartment collapses on her and finally her mother is killed by a sniper while checking on a ...more
Azelyn Klein
Don’t let the title of this book deceive you. There’s no magic, just a bunch of female pilots from Russia during WWII. Apparently, they flew as stealth bombers after sundown and they were so feared by the Germans, that they were referred to as the night witches.

But even with the prospects of more pilots and WWII fiction, I was rather let down by this story. I suppose it’s really hard to read any historical fiction featuring female pilots after reading any books by Elizabeth Wein.

The main charac
Feb 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
A friend shared this book with me. I had never heard of the Night Witches, nor had I ever read a book on WWII based in Russia. This story was intriguing and well written. It is written for the younger generation, so being old I did wish that sometimes Kathryn Lasky had gone into more details.

The Night Witches are real. They were a regiment of female pilots in Russia who flew planes through curtains of fire to bomb crucial targets. I don't know if any of the characters on the book are real and/o
Jul 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
A fast-paced, action-packed historical fiction story told by 16-year old Valya who yearns to be part of the war effort flying like her brave older sister instead of being stuck at home. But when the Germans surrounded her home of Stalingrad, Valya is forced to stay put and watch the atrocities of war as her city is destroyed and she loses everything she holds dear. When her mother is killed, her desire to follow in her older sister's footsteps is ever stronger, and Valya will do anything to join ...more
Kelsey Lovelady
Apr 04, 2019 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: maybes-pt-3, tie-in, teen
After losing her parents when the Germans invade Russia, Valya just wants to do her part to help her country win the war. Her father, who was a pilot, taught her to fly so she knows she has what it takes to be one of the Night Witches, an all-female fighter plane squadron that flies only at night dropping bombs on the Germans' crucial supply trains, spotlights, and ammunition depots. All she has to do is make her way across enemy territory, find the secret air base, and persuade one of the comma ...more
Aug 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Great book for young adults. Brings forgotten history to life in an exciting, read-able, enjoyable story. I knew nothing about the female pilots of Stalingrad, but the author effortlessly weaves in other stories with which we may be more familiar in order to anchor the story, which makes the characters seem more real.

And they are real; "Night Witches" was the German nickname for the women military aviators of the 588th Night Bomber Regiment, known later as the 46th "Taman" Guards Night Bomber A
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Kathryn Lasky is the American author of many critically acclaimed books, including several Dear America books, several Royal Diaries books, 1984 Newbery Honor winning Sugaring Time, The Night Journey, and the Guardians of Ga'Hoole series.

She was born June 24, 1944, and grew up in Indianapolis, Indiana, and is married to Christopher Knight, with whom she lives in Massachusetts.

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