Warlight sucked me in deeper than any novel I can remember… fiction as rich, as beautiful, as melancholy as life itself.”



The opening sentence of this book “In 1945, our parents went away and left us in the care of two men who may have been criminals”.

Thus begins the story of Nathaniel and his older sister Rachel.

It is during the later stages of the Second World War and Nathaniel’s Dad is being assigned to the Middle East, and Mom must go with him. The children will be left in the hands of two men, one called The Moth, and the other called The Darter. Two characters so different in many ways. The Moth, traditional and reserved but secretive, and The Darter who seems to be involved in every money making venture you could think of.

Rachel is closer to The Moth, Nathaniel to The Darter. Just a few weeks after the parents have left, the mothers traveling case is found downstairs, hidden in the basement. Once the children discover their parents aren’t together, the story will begin to unfold, jumping into the future, where through flashbacks we will discover the entire story of what really transpired back in 1945.

Beginning as a coming of age novel, then developing into a fascinating story of deadly secrets, young love, and a truth well beyond the imagination of Nathaniel and Rachel, Ondatjee weaves a fantastic tale of sacrifice and honor and love, and how duty to country and family can’t exist on the same level, and sometimes, the things done in times of war, can lead to repercussions much later on. A terrific book.

Highly recommended.


Reviewed by:

Richard Franco

Added 13th July 2018

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Richard Franco