Thanks so much to Rockstar Book Tours for hosting THE GIRL AT MIDNIGHT blog tour. Be sure to check out the rest of the tour stops!
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.
I’m struggling here you guys. How can I accurately sum up my feelings for a book that was so perfect for me? I probably cannot. But I’m going to try. Melissa Grey’s THE GIRL AT MIDNIGHT holds a special place in my heart. There’s something about a runaway pickpocket who takes refuge in the New York Public library that tugs at my heartstrings. Actually, after reading this, my heartstrings are in tatters from this book tugging at them so much. Seriously. Did I mention how perfect this book was for me? Here’s why:
I’m a huge fan of epic novels that take place on multiple continents. THE DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE? My kind of novel. Don’t get me wrong I adore static settings. But you can’t have fantastical quests without bumbling around to different countries. THE GIRL AT MIDNIGHT features some of my favorite places. New York, London, and Paris…the list goes on. And Melissa Grey isn’t afraid to get specific. Her characters take tea at Maison Bertaux in London, tromp around the Black Forrest in Germany, and dodge from Warlocks in Taipei.
There’s a lot of stuff going on. And it’s not overwhelming at all. These places, even if we’re only given glimpses of them, appear lived in. That’s what I love about this book so much. These settings exist in this novel just as much as the characters. It makes me want to visit all of these places just to see if I’ll come across our protagonists. And while I know its all fiction and there’s no way these creatures will be walking around SoHo or stalking the New York Public Library, the writing almost makes it possible. Does that make sense? It’s just all so present and whimsical. I’d read this book again just for the descriptions of the settings. It’s that good. Trust me.
No good fantasy book can exist without expert world building. A reader needs to be immersed in the world as if it’s her own, The only way to do this is to build walls around the reader; follow the rules of the place you’ve built and go from there. Melissa Grey does this extremely well. We know within pages who these creatures-The Avicen and Drakharin are. We know about their past and the bloody world they’ve fought for centuries. We know about their customs. It all helps inform readers for the story that unfolds. (My favorite thing is that Avicen hate water and love sweets. It’s perfect). It’s very convincing and enough that I would be find just reading offshoots, little narratives outside of our main characters.
Happy sigh. Honestly, I fell in love with all the characters all at once. I was behind Echo from the start but within a few pages of each POV (we’re treated to several over the course of the novel) I was wholeheartedly in support of the others too.
Echo, our intrepid hero, is incredibly endearing. There’s something about her that makes you fall into step with her from the beginning. She’s loyal, hilarious and endlessly interesting. I love her preoccupation with rarely used vocabulary (a fixation we share) and her love of sweets. Caius, our Dragon Prince and Echo’s counterpart, is also interesting. I love when someone in power isn’t portrayed as a flat evil megalomaniac but instead as someone with depth. I really liked reading about him.
Dorian and Jasper might just be my favorite. I think it’s because they’re so different and unapologetically themselves. Dorian knows he’s a soldier who’s in love with his Prince. Jasper accepts that he’s a thief with a penchant for buying expensive things. And I love that they find each other. If in the oddest and most unexpected way possible. Ivy and the Ala too are fascinating as characters. I love that Ivy isn’t just the best friend/sidekick that we so often see as played out tropes. And I also love that the Ala isn’t just the wise mentor who offers cryptic advice and allows her charges to find their own way. She steps in when she needs to. Melissa Grey stares at these tropes in the face and laughs at them. She’s willing to play around. And that’s so encouraging and wonderful. It means that the series will be full of surprises and I’m so excited to see what they are.
Also, let us always support ragtag ensemble novels and families that find each other. I couldn’t get enough of the camaraderie that was forming between the unusual mix of thief, healer, and warrior, prince it made for an interesting combination. And I loved how everyone had a role. Melissa Grey does not take advantage of anything in the novel using each character and their distinct personality to her advantage. And can I talk about how I immediately formed ships? It was so much fun seeing how they played out and if they’ll continue to do so.
At first, I was worried that I would guess how it would all play out. And while I was very close, it wasn’t at all what I expected. Melissa Grey knows how to keep us guessing and for that I’m very pleased. The novel was highly entertaining and one that I didn’t want to put down. Each part of the story felt so amped up, a continuous roller-coaster of thrills. I never wanted to stop. But I did and the ending was so wroth it. I was intensely satisfied. Yet, at the same time I wanted to reach through the pages and pull the rest of the story out. Thank God this is a series.
Do you ever read something and it’s as if the sentence is like the first sip of water when you were so desperate for a drink? That’s what Melissa’s prose is like. Every sentence is that first sip of water. Crisp and comforting. There were so many times that I paused at a line and nearly cried at the beauty of it. Here’s someone who takes time with her words. Allows them to percolate and grow. Every sentence was meant for this story, every word chosen to fit just so. I made a list of my favorite parts:
1. Food, Echo thought, was the foundation upon which the very best friendships were built. (Page 50)
2. “…Humans make art to remember and be remembered.” Said Caius. “Art is their weapon against forgetting.” (Page 256)
3. If war had taught him anything, it was that it took the people who deserved long and happy lives and gave them short, brutal ones instead. (Page 304)
I could recommend this book a billion times over and it wouldn’t be enough. I would read it as soon as possible, though, because you don’t want to miss out on the inevitable conversation and buzz this book will generate. It’s going to be big. I have a feeling. So read it and share it. It’s one of those
books that deserve it.
Melissa Grey was born and raised in New York City. She wrote her first short story at the age of twelve and hasn't stopped writing since. After earning a degree in fine arts at Yale University, she traveled the world, then returned to New York City where she currently works as a freelance journalist. To learn more about Melissa, visit melissa-grey.com and follow @meligrey on Twitter.
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