Review of The Night War

The Night War The Night War
by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
Intermediate, Middle School    Dial    288 pp.
4/24    9780735228566    $17.99
e-book ed.  9780735228580    $10.99

In 1942, French police in Occupied Paris rounded up over thirteen thousand French Jews and corralled them into a stadium; almost all perished at Auschwitz. Bradley’s (The War That Saved My Life, rev. 1/15, and sequel) story begins just before the Jews are forced into the stadium, and Miri’s neighbor thrusts her toddler into Miri’s arms and tells her to run. Thanks to compassionate, quick-thinking nuns, the two end up in a village near Catherine de Medici’s sixteenth-century castle, Chenonceau. Hiding in plain sight among summer boarders at a convent school, Miri (now known as Marie) grows familiar with the castle—and with a ghost visible only to her, of Catherine de Medici herself. When Miri gets involved in rescuing refugees, Catherine repeatedly steps in to help her out. This is an engaging, imaginative yarn, and Miri’s vulnerability and sense of responsibility give it emotional weight and contemporary appeal—despite, or perhaps because of, the ways it stretches credulity. Given the ease of a few elements as well as a helpful ghost and Miri’s talkativeness—even when hiding from German soldiers only a few feet away—the novel is something of an unlikely confection, like the fairy tale–esque castle at its center. Best read in tandem with more straightforward Holocaust accounts.

Pubissue-From the March/April 2024 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Deirdre Baker
Deirdre F. Baker
Deirdre F. Baker, a reviewer for The Horn Book Magazine and the Toronto Star, teaches children’s literature at the University of Toronto. The author of Becca at Sea (Groundwood), she is currently at work on a sequel—written in the past tense.

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