My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Publication Date: April 28th 2015
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Point of View: 3rd Person & Alternative
Recommended Age: 12+
Genres & Themes: Young Adult, Fantasy, Magic, War Setting, LGBT
For readers of Cassandra Clare’s City of Bones and Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow and Bone, The Girl at Midnight is the story of a modern girl caught in an ancient war.
Beneath the streets of New York City live the Avicen, an ancient race of people with feathers for hair and magic running through their veins. Age-old enchantments keep them hidden from humans. All but one. Echo is a runaway pickpocket who survives by selling stolen treasures on the black market, and the Avicen are the only family she’s ever known.
Echo is clever and daring, and at times she can be brash, but above all else she’s fiercely loyal. So when a centuries-old war crests on the borders of her home, she decides it’s time to act.
Legend has it that there is a way to end the conflict once and for all: find the Firebird, a mythical entity believed to possess power the likes of which the world has never seen. It will be no easy task, but if life as a thief has taught Echo anything, it’s how to hunt down what she wants . . . and how to take it.
But some jobs aren’t as straightforward as they seem. And this one might just set the world on fire.
The first half of this book reminded me of Daughter of Smoke and Bone and the other half of my favorite series, The Mortal Instruments.
Needless to say, it was impossible for me to end this read and stare at my digital copy with no hearts in my eyes. It was so beautifully crafted that I gawped when seeing a sentence revealing that this was in fact Melissa Grey’s debut novel. Colour me impressed.
With gorgeously detailed sensory detail and outstanding figures of speech, the writing made me want to crawl inside the story and take the main character (Echo)’s place in order to find the firebird that would bring peace between the Avicen and the Drakhain with as much intrepidity as she showed. I don’t usually feel this way about books (neither do I normally desire to, with no regrets, push a main character from a cliff) but the world-building that was contained inside The Girl at Midnight shimmered with quality. It will give you as impression that what you are reading matters, that it is worth your time.
Furthermore, those weren’t the only elements that make this story a memorable one to me. That’s right; it had a structured – without giving you as feeling that you can determine the next scene – plot and the kind that includes adventure, a quest, encounters with new characters, romance, betrayal, bravery and a remarkable amount of hopefulness. It drove me from my normal life straight to a more mystical and exciting one. I can see this series becoming a success very clearly. And maybe even a movie… At least, I hope so, because I’ve never met cinematographic (or book) characters with the appearance of Avicen people and would love to see how they would look like on the big screen.
I remember staring at the cover of this book repeatedly day after day since I first discovered it. I kept thinking, ‘‘This has to be good.’’ And, as you may suspect if you have read my thoughts written above, it absolutely was for me. More than that: it was fantastic. However, my self wanting to kill the heroine does mean that this read was not a flawless one. Indeed, Echo’s personality and behaviour, especially before the quest was given, was comparable to a kid’s one due to her bluntness, recklessness and lack of judgement in certain situations. She was also the only character that used a strongly colloquial language. It just didn’t feel right for the story. Every time Echo started speaking, I was constantly sulking at how it disintegrated inch by inch the seriousness and deepness of the fantasy genre that constituted the story. Good thing that both of those things were always restored by the magnificent secondary characters. Otherwise, I would have been very annoyed.
Technically, there was a slight love-triangle, but I did not mind it. You will see that the ‘‘second,’’ if that is how I shall call it, couple come to know one another in such a gradual and believable way that you will too forget the boy Echo left behind soon enough *wink* *wink*. The relationships were actually well-done and I am referring to both romantic and friendly ones. And you know the best part? There was a gay couple in this story. Hats off to the author for having convinced me of their affection toward one another. I did feel like they did not have enough scenes together though. But neither did Alec & Magnus in City of Bones and look at how it all evolved.
I wish everyone would give this first in a formidable new series book a chance.