The Night Witches

Written by Garth Ennis
Review by India Edghill

During World War II, the Nazi war machine destroyed its way through the Soviet Union. Desperate times call for desperate measures, so Russia creates a new bomber unit: a unit of women, who will fly outdated and dangerous biplanes on an even more dangerous mission: night bombing of the German invaders. One of the young women is Anna Kharkova, who becomes a superb pilot and is created a hero of the Soviet Union for her efforts against the enemy. Anna survives capture and torture by the Germans, only to be astonished at what happens to her when the war ends. But Anna never gives up. To say more would involve huge spoilers.

While Anna is fictional, the Night Witches are not. During the war, women did fly obsolete biplanes by night to bomb the enemy. It was a hideously dangerous job, and casualties were high – and after the war… well… It’s Soviet Russia under Stalin, which tells you there may not be a traditional happy ending. But the ending is satisfactory, and Anna never once lets herself down. Night Witches is superbly done, but please note that it is also very realistic. War is no joke, as this work makes very, very clear. Warnings for torture and rape – which are handled both realistically and as tactfully as possible. One measure of the work’s quality is seen by the fact that Dead Reckoning is an imprint of the prestigious Naval Institute Press.

In addition to a great plot, the artwork beautifully supports the text, and gives immediacy to the story. A brilliant work, highly recommended.