Daughters of the Night Sky by Aimie K. Runyan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Historical fiction … good historical fiction … does more than just tell a story, it transports the reader to another place and time. It immerses them in a culture and events of the past… the courts of kings and queens of Victorian England, the American move westward in the 19th century, or the Eastern Theater of one of the world’s ‘great wars’. Wherever an author takes one, good historical fiction relives a period in history and captivates the reader.
DAUGHTERS OF THE NIGHT SKY does that and more. In a bold departure from the standard offerings of World War II historical fiction, and with a verve and dedication to historical detail that is both daring and breathtaking, Aime K Runyan tells the story of a courageous group of female pilots in World War II Russia, called to defend their homeland.
In a rare display of feminism for the times, Comrade Stalin has declared equality for women, something that many of the male pilots and soldiers struggle to come to terms with. This is key to the story of the ‘night witches’ and one which lends an air of authenticity to the author’s retelling of the exploits of the 46th Taman Guards, formerly the 588th Night Bomber Regiment – Russia’s all female air force regiment.
“I’m going to learn how to fly a plane of my own, Mama.” Katya Ivanova tells her mother. Little does Katya know that one day her dream will take her to the battle front of the Second World War.
Love is fragile in time of war. It is often fleeting. And it is all too often, heartbreaking. And so Katya vows that she will not let a man deter or distract her from her ‘mission’. But… the heart wants what the heart wants and in wartime there is a greater urgency, a hunger, to live every moment as fully as possible, not knowing what tomorrow will bring… victory or heartbreak. Which will Vanya bring? Will the tragedy of war win out over love or will it bring a strength and determination to Katya she could not have foretold.
Ms Runyan has woven a tale rich in historical detail and all the imagery of a nation at war with a cast of truly heroic and memorable characters to make DAUGHTERS OF THE NIGHT SKY one of the most compelling and compassionate stories of World War II and the brave band of women pilots and crews called upon to defend Mother Russia against the German war machine. Told with a bittersweet poignancy and a deep compassion for the human condition, I cheered at times and cried at others. The last 30 pages of DAUGHTERS OF THE NIGHT SKY had me soaking one tissue after another.
Yes, but did you like it, Veronica?
In the immortal words of Paul Hollywood…
“I didn’t like it… I LOVED it!”
Captivating… beautiful… brilliant… heartbreakingly poignant… DAUGHTERS OF THE NIGHT SKY is a ‘must-read’! I recommend it without reservation.
Veronica Marie Lewis-Shaw
(Writing under a large mushroom somewhere in the Pacific Northwest)
4 December 2017
(I received an e-ARC of this book through my book club.)