My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I’ve heard a lot about Worrals over the years. It’s a title I’ve sort of brushed into contact with, having read a lot of Girlsown, and so, when I received an email telling me that it was being reprinted by IndieBooks Limited and would I like to review a copy, my answer was a very positive yes.
The titular Worrals, Joan Worralson, is a pilot in the WAAF. Worrals and her best friend ‘Frecks’ are rather lovely creations. Vivid, hearty and hugely patriotic, they’re a defiant joy. I don’t think I’ve read much that teenage / children’s fiction which acknowledges the role of fighting women during the second world war (Code Name Verity etc aside) so Worrals is a much welcome addition to the canon.
Worrals of the WAAF is the debut in the series and it features Worrals and Frecks solving Mysterious Goings On Involving The Enemy. I was really surprised at just how much is packed into this book – there’s so much plot. Everything happens and then, just to make sure that you’re paying attention, Johns throws a little more in to make sure that you won’t even think about stopping reading. It is very good adventure writing and it’s undoubtedly hooky.
However, there a few parts in Johns’ work which don’t translate superbly well to modern audiences. His sentences are quite complicated in parts and require some parsing: “Drop she dare not, for fear she should slip from the roof of the car and injure herself on the concrete floor”. I’d recommend this for confident readers for that reason or for readers who won’t be intimidated by such stylistic tics. One thing that is worthwhile noting is that this new edition is unabridged and that’s something I hugely welcome. Johns’ text is sporadically dense (as is this entire paragraph, ha!), but it’s a stylistic that whilst it occasionally irritates, does not detract (and, to be honest, cannot detract) from this lovely, pacy, adventurous story.