Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Review: The Girl at Midnight

The Girl at Midnight
by Melissa Grey

Pages:  361

Publisher: ATOM

Date Released: April 28th 2015

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.

It is believed that only one thing will stop the centuries-old war between the bird-like Avicen and the dragon folk, the Drakharin, and it's up to Echo to find it.

After being found in a library after dark, Echo is adopted by the Ala, one of the Avicen, and brought to live in their magical world, hidden amongst the folds of humanity. When given the opportunity to end the war that ravages her people, Echo jumps at the chance, even if it means following a fairytale.

I liked this book a lot. It reminds me of The Daughter of Smoke and Bone, in that it features a world that lives on the fringes of human society, beneath the subways, and in the in-between. The world-building is  frankly gorgeous, and I can't wait to emerge myself into it again in the next book.

Echo is a nuanced character with a love for books and words. I loved how she would think of delicate and appropriate words for her situations, such as tsundoku, which translates as letting books pile up without reading them all, and psiturism: the sound of wind through the trees. It adds to the poetic and delicate prose, which is also gorgeous.

I think my biggest grievance is the romance. It develops too quickly, and turns into a bitter love-triangle. I think I would have tolerated it more if not for the fact that Echo already has a boyfriend while she pursues something with Caius, the Dragon Prince of the Drakharin.

The supporting cast is fun and varied, from the flamboyant peacock-Avicen, Jasper, to the quiet, brooding Dorian, who is in love with his best friend, Caius. I applaud the use of queer characters who have actual agency, and aren't just used as scenery. Here, they are given pivotal roles, and are as important as Echo herself.

Cover Art: 4
Characters: 4
Plot: 3
Level of Interest: 3

3.5 stars

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