By Author / Illustrator

Elizabeth Wein


Historical Fiction

Age range(s)



Bloomsbury Publishing PLC




Paperback / softback




A group of young pilots face intrigue and sabotage in a race around Europe in this thrilling murder mystery, from the bestselling author of Code Name Verity. 

It is 1937 and tensions are high. A spectacular air race around Europe seeks to promote unity among a group of young pilots, but distrust and animosity are rife. The British and sole female contestant, Stella North, is determined to prove not only her skill, but also her identity as her Nansen passport declares her 'stateless'.  However, barely a few hours in, Stella is witness to a horrifying attack when a contestant's plane is forced out of the air and crashes. Was this the work of another competitor desperate to win? Was the attack random or premeditated and, most importantly, will it happen again?  With the competition heating up and the death ruled an accident, Stella is left to form her own investigation. Can she find allies among her fellow competitors or will suspicion and deceit bring them all down

An exhilarating rush of a novel, with all the twists and turns we've come to expect from the award-winning Elizabeth Wein.

Find out more from author Elizabeth Wein



It is 1937, and Europe is on the brink of war. In an effort to promote peace in Europe, a youth air race has been arranged. Stella North is the only female among the 12 participants, and as such she has much to prove. On the very first leg of the race, Stella witnesses one of the other planes being deliberately brought down, its pilot lost. So begins a thrilling adventure as Stella, with the help of the other pilots, seeks to find out who is behind this terrible act.

Stateless is an exciting and fast-paced adventure, the reader is drawn into the action from the very first page, and the author maintains the momentum throughout the novel. Stella is an intriguing character, nicknamed "The Flying English Rose"; we learn of her early life in Russia and the tragedy she experienced there which has helped her become strong and capable as well as headstrong. She hates the attention of the press, who are captivated by the fact that she is a woman in a man's world.

The other pilots in the race are all individual competitors at the start of the novel, but as the plot unfolds they become a team, working together to protect and help each other. The story revolves around the three central characters of Stella, Tony and Sebastian, and although there is enmity between them at first, it is wonderful to see them begin to trust each other and become real friends.

The book is well written and, as one would expect from a novel by Elizabeth Wein, immaculately researched. The idea of having a murder occur in mid air is a brilliant concept, and the descriptions of aerial combat are so well described. The reader is swept along into a world of intrigue, sabotage, Nazis, and danger, with a little touch of romance dropped skilfully into the mix! The character of Major Florian Rosengart gives the story its villain; he seems determined to kill Tony, and the final confrontation between the two brings the novel to a fantastically exciting climax.

I found the ending to be rather touching -- Stella is filled with hope for the future, without knowing what horrors lie ahead as the world faces war.  Wein includes a very interesting Author's Note at the end of the book, explaining how she came to write the book and telling the reader of the real-life people who inspired some of the characters.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I am sure that it will be well received by anyone who enjoys a barnstorming adventure story with a historical background.

400 pages / Reviewed by Beverley Somerset, school librarian

Suggested Reading Age 14+


An air race across Europe, with the continent's finest young aviators, is the brain child of Lady Frith - an attempt at unity and peace at a time of simmering tensions. As the Spanish Civil War continues to rage and the ghosts of the Great War have barely been laid to rest, the Circuit of Nations Olympics of the Air is a supposed tonic for a beleaguered continent. But there is a wasp in the nest; one of the competitors is forced out of the race, another coerced into desperate aerial combat and it seems that a killer is in their midst. As the British flyer, Stella North, realises the danger, she must consider how to catch the culprit….and stay alive.

What a fantastic idea for a book! An international cast of characters, daring deeds, festering resentments and the glamour of the golden age of aviation. Although the press seem to fixate on Stella being the only female in the race, the other competitors - some grudgingly - accept her as a fellow aviator and potential victor. Stella, constrained in some ways by her sex and expected to endorse her 'English Rose' image, is keen to show that she is every bit as able as her male counterparts.

Some characters are more well drawn than others, the lesser ones acting as a backdrop to the main storyline, allowing the principal characters to take centre stage. There is plenty of intrigue and as a reader you are never quite sure who to trust. Stella's stateless existence of the title only adds to her sense of unease.

Stateless is a soaring piece of historical fiction, a fantastically-plotted murder mystery set against an unravelling political background. Another thrilling read to add to the Wein collection.

400 pages / Ages 12+ / Reviewed by Clare, school librarian. 

Suggested Reading Age 11+


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