I am so psyched to bring to you a fiercely feminist guest post today from the wonderful Claire Eliza Bartlett!
Her debut, We Rule the Night, is one I’ve been excited for so long (especially after seeing that gorgeous cover!) and I can’t wait to talk with you about.
It focuses on two girls who use forbidden magic to fly and fight for their country. Revna and Linné both resist the patriarchy of their world in different ways, using their forbidden magic to complete dangerous missions.
We Rule the Night sounds FANTASTIC and I’m always in the mood for books about female friendships and feminism, so I’m so very excited for this!
And Claire has written such a lovely guest post about resistance and corrupt systems, so I hope you enjoy reading her powerful words and some of the inspiration behind the story!
What Do You Do When the System is Corrupt?
by Claire Eliza Bartlett
Very soon (gulp!) my YA fantasy, We Rule the Night, will be out in the world. I started this novel back in 2014, when the world felt very different, but was in essence the same. I based it off of real stories, of women who were told they were equal to men, then told they could not do what they wanted to do because it was a man’s job. Since then the world has only demonstrated time and time again that the boundaries of race, gender, disability, sexual preference and so on still hold.
The largest historical influence for We Rule the Night is the story of the Night Witches, who flew outdated planes on night missions to the German front lines. World War II Soviet Russia was full of what we could consider hypocrisies – women and men trained in rifle clubs, flying clubs, and made similar preparations for armed combat, but when war broke out women were kept from the front as long as possible. Those who wanted to join the armed forces later told stories of sitting outside offices for days, going back again and again until some bureaucrat threw his hands up in frustration and let them do as they liked. Some even wrote to Stalin, asking for permission.
This atmosphere was something I wanted to emphasize in We Rule the Night. Here we have a stricter policy: no women, period. This pushes Linné, a general’s daughter, to seek her own way into the war, to earn heroism and be lauded as a legend, so that she can make her dramatic reveal. Her dream is cut short when she’s caught, so she has to prove herself a new way: by showing she can’t just do as well as the boys she fought with, she can do better. This attitude, of course, brings a whole host of issues with it: how do you make people see that the system is unfair, and not just that you’re exceptional, different; a girl Not Like Other Girls? How do you keep from falling prey to believing in such a system when you start to be elevated above your peers?
Linné uses grand gestures to make her points, but Revna pushes back in a quieter way – she Gets the Job Done. This is very much how many women, my grandmother included, operate in our world. I’ll never forget a story my mother once told around the dining table:
In 1965, my grandfather passed away. He and my grandmother lived on a farm in Oregon, but living on a farm had been his dream, not hers. So she moved back to Colorado, which was always her state of choice, and saw her two daughters off to higher educations.
At one point she wanted to buy a house. She had a steady job and earned decent money, so buying a house should be fine, right?
Wrong. Silly women couldn’t have loans! No matter that she’d raised two kids and her husband had died, and she’d handled these major life changes with a career intact. No husband, no loan. Eventually she worked out how to take on the seller’s loan so that she could commit the apparently awful sin of owning property without a man in her life.
(She’s still alive as of my writing this. She never remarried.)
Reading about the incredible women who risked it all in an ungrateful war went hand in hand with reading about the women who Got the Job Done. So when I approached writing Revna’s character, she had a quieter form of resistance, one you might see and ignore every day. For Revna, showing up to work on time and doing an admirable job without complaint are a form of protest against her supervisor, who thinks that disabled girls with traitor fathers can’t be capable people. Revna’s resistance is showing her friends that she’ll get the extra help she needs on her own terms, not on theirs. And her resistance is very much fighting for what she believes in, even though it means taking orders from a governing body that she doesn’t trust, and that doesn’t care about her. Of course, resisting in this way has problems, too. It’s far too easy to be ignored or unnoticed – and the Soviet women who fought in World War II had this problem when the war was over. War stories and propaganda focused on the men, and the USSR did its best to forget them.
These are but two paths of resistance among many. We all have our own to walk, and nowhere is free of systems that need to be dismantled. I can’t tell you how to run your own resistance, but I hope you find a little fire, a little inspiration in reading.
This sounds amazing and makes me even more excited to dive further into my ARC! (My review will go up this weekend!) I’m very excited to read Revna and Linné’s rousing story, and also see this book in person next Tuesday!
I especially love Claire’s story about her grandmother–go her for getting that loan and buying a house! I’m glad she’s happy and thankful for her resistance.
Keep reading for the awesome giveaway Claire & I have for you! Plus, don’t forget to let Claire know on her social media if you enjoyed reading her guest post!
P.S. Readers should be aware of content warnings of harassment and violent scenes (potential PTSD triggers).
“A fierce and compelling breakout debut that should not be missed.”– Kirkus starred review
More About the Book
We Rule the Night by Claire Eliza Bartlett
Hardcover, 400 pages
April 2nd 2019 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Two girls use forbidden magic to fly and fight–for their country and for themselves–in this riveting debut that’s part Shadow and Bone, part Code Name Verity.
Seventeen-year-old Revna is a factory worker, manufacturing war machines for the Union of the North. When she’s caught using illegal magic, she fears being branded a traitor and imprisoned. Meanwhile, on the front lines, Linné defied her father, a Union general, and disguised herself as a boy to join the army. They’re both offered a reprieve from punishment if they use their magic in a special women’s military flight unit and undertake terrifying, deadly missions under cover of darkness. Revna and Linné can hardly stand to be in the same cockpit, but if they can’t fly together, and if they can’t find a way to fly well, the enemy’s superior firepower will destroy them–if they don’t destroy each other first.
We Rule the Night is a powerful story about sacrifice, complicated friendships, and survival despite impossible odds.
“Bartlett’s electrifying feminist fantasy debut uses keenly wrought characters, harrowing action sequences, and creative yet economical worldbuilding to explore misogynistic military culture and the human cost of war.”– Publishers Weekly starred review
More About the Author
Claire Bartlett lives in an enchanted forest apartment in Copenhagen with too many board games and too few cats.
Get more detailed information, like how many board games is too many, how many cats is too few, and what book-related beauties I’m working on by signing up for my newsletter.
Are you excited for We Rule the Night?! I certainly am! Feminist fantasies with multiple paths of resistance? Sign. Me. Up.
You have the chance to win a copy of your own through the Rafflecopter button below! One lucky winner will receive their choice of a hardcover of We Rule the Night OR a #novel19s debut publishing on or before April 2nd! So many options ahhh!
This giveaway is ONLY open to international residents–aka you can’t enter if you live in the US. It ends next at midnight next Tuesday, and you can also get an extra entry on Twitter!