When We Were Warriors


‘When We Were Warriors’ is a work of skill, intelligence and affection. The dark days of world war seem endless. Stan, June and Maggie are hopeful the chip shop might be open still when we open, with ‘The Night Visitors’. Yet their journey is aborted when Pavilion Street is bombed. The children are evacuated urgently to Frost Hollow Hall, an historic house full of secrets and potential. Stan struggles to curb his emotions, suspicions and impulses. June is keen to take on the loudest boy with a series of bold dares. There are sightings of ghosts and a warning to stay away from the lake. What will the children discover in their new residence? Can the surprise arrival of an American platoon shed any light on the mysteries held within?

In ‘Olive’s Army’ an American platoon arrives at Budmouth Point upon the discovery of a drowned German man. His body carries the same identity as the lighthouse keeper, destined to marry Olive’s sister. Can the  new brother-in-law be trusted? Olive’s been forbidden from taking matters into her own hands to investigate further. Yet she and Esther, her friend, both familiar from the beloved Letters from the Lighthouse, are determined to find out what is happening. Who is the real Ephraim?

Velvet’s mother works as a fire-watcher in Plymouth. The city is bombarded by German incendiaries. Velvet is weary of her lonely nights punctuated by episodes seeking safety in the air raid shelter. It is full of people and their animals, including those of her friends and neighbours. When the new air raid warden forbids animals in the shelter, Velvet works to arrive at an alternative. Mo’s home has a big shelter. Surely they could keep this location a secret from his house proud parents? ‘Operation Greyhound’, the third story in this wonderful book, offers a new consideration, further challenges, and a very sympathetic main character.

‘When We Were Warriors’ is moving, authentic and direct. Emma Carroll grips her readers’s attention immediately. We are convinced by the different settings, smelling the smoke, the lake weed, the dust, the fear. We sympathise with the individual characters; from Stan, to Olive, to Velvet- each could be a friend. I love the way Eddie Johnson, such a warm-hearted development, links each story. I long for more from him, maybe post war? Most of all, I was thrilled to be reunited with Frost Hollow Hall. I cannot spoil the surprise in this reunion! ‘When We Were Warriors‘ is a wonderful, wonderful book.

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When We Were Warriors

Emma Carroll

(Faber & Faber)

In When We Were Warriors, we return to the English South Coast, buffeted by war. Stan and his sisters are evacuated to the eerie Frost Hollow Hall when Pavilion Street is bombed. Olive, Cliff and Esther’s preparations for a wedding are put on hold when a German body is found in the waves. It bears the name of the intended bridegroom. Plymouth is hit by constant bombardment. What happens when the new air raid warden forbids animals from the shelter? Can Velvet come up with an alternative plan?
Emma Carroll is a magnificent writer. Therefore, it is an added delight to rediscover places and characters in this three- part, interlinked title. We return to Frost Hollow Hall alongside reacquainting ourselves with the beloved characters from Letters from the Lighthouse.
It means that  ‘When We Are Warriors’ is icing on a goat butter cake. Bookwagon loves this title; it is a phenomenal, meaningful book.


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