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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 251

The first line of Warlight is a memorable one, full of intrigue: “In 1945 our parents went away and left us in the care of two men who may have been criminals.” This is spoken by Nathaniel, one of two siblings left in the care of a man whose real name is Walter, but is known as The Moth, and another man called The Darter. Nathaniel and his sister Rachel live with The Moth while their parents are away, ostensibly for their father’s work. The Darter is always around, and the house is full of their friends and acquaintances. Nathaniel says, “The house felt more like a night zoo, with moles and jackdaws and shambling beasts who happened to be chess players, a gardener, a possible greyhound thief, a slow-moving opera singer.” Nathaniel thinks the people filling his house are strange, and yet he is drawn to them. One of The Darter’s girlfriends, Olive, is intelligent and beautiful, and Nathaniel loves being with her. She says, “‘Half the lift of cities occurs at night,’ Olive Lawrence warned us. ‘There’s a more uncertain morality then.’”

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Nathaniel’s entire life from then on is full of mystery. His parents are gone, and he figures out that his mother is not where he thought she is. One night he is out dancing with his girlfriend, who calls herself Agnes Street, he thinks he sees his mother. He says, “Is this how we discover the truth, evolve? By gathering together such unconfirmed fragments?”

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