We Rule the Night caught me completely off guard with its immersive fantasy historical fiction world and narrative of fierce women. People who like the concepts of living aircraft, military, wartime, and magic will enjoy this. There is also the idea of traitors thrown into the mix. This fighter-pilot fantasy is a bit more of a slow burn. I wasn't sure how I would react to this wartime fantasy setting, but I love how Bartlett used it and the intensifying pace to point out the flaws both in her world and our real world. It still has action elements to it, but it also has women pilots training and struggling to work together.
The book showcases an understated story despite the compelling writing style, the action, and the adventure in the middle of an imaginary war and battles occurring. The book gets massive bonus points for world-building with female friendships and the complexity within those. One of my favorite parts is how the atmospheric tone examines Linné and Revna's hatred/friendship. The women pilots are messy, in a fun-to-read way.
Both girls are part of the ability-diverse squadron, and both have reasons they need to stay. The only way Linné can fight in the war is to join these reluctant allies, and she will have to stick with it if she wants to contribute. Linné is prickly and hard to get along with, and she doesn't want to be a part of the female-only group of women fighting in the war and defending the realm, especially given her history of dressing up as a boy and serving in the military. Revna is a woman of steel who is there only to help her family and do what is best for them. Despite being paired to fly a living-metal plane together - one girl to fuel it with her magic spark and the other to navigate the magical Weave - these complex characters struggle to work together.
The story is a severe one of war and society, and I think that folks who like the older-feeling fantasies will enjoy this. Not only is it a war fantasy with alliances and hierarchies and people fighting on living-metal machines, but it also has that measured tone a lot of fantasies take on, especially ones primed for sequels. (I am hoping for one even though it has not been announced yet!) The book is fantastic for fans of military and wartime fantasies and is centered on women and their interpersonal conflicts. If you think soldier books are fun but don't feature enough women and female friendships and want more female interaction, this one is for you.