“Maybe it’s time the dreamers started calling the shots” – Echo (Melissa Grey, The Girl at Midnight)
I had heard good things about this book, so I was excited to finally get to reading it when I picked it up from the library. And let me tell you, I’m glad I picked it up from the library instead of buying it. While this book had a lot of promise, and a wealth of detailed world building, it suffered from a long, dull beginning, a predictable plot and a series of cringe-worthy romances.
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 all but one human: Echo, a runaway pickpocket who survives by selling stolen treasures on the black market. The Avicen are the only family Echo has ever known, so when a centuries-old war crests on the borders of her home, she decides it’s time to act. Legend has it that to end the conflict once and for all, Echo must 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, though if life as a thief has taught Echo anything, it’s how to hunt down what she wants . . . and how to take it.
“War makes monsters of us all, and the people who least deserve it pay the highest cost” – Caius (Melissa Grey, The Girl at Midnight).
Let me start off by saying that The Girl at Midnight was beautifully written. It had a wealth of highly quotable one-liners, and the story really did flow well. Unfortunately, for the majority of the book, it simply wasn’t a good story. Or, at very least, it wasn’t a story that inspired any emotion in the reader.
Things I Liked:
- The second half of the book. After the drag that was the first half of this book, the increased action, reduced cringe-worthy romantic moments and more intriguing plot really improved my opinion of this book. Truthfully, it’s almost as though a completely different person wrote each half of the book.
- The relationships between the characters (for the most part – see below for those that I didn’t like) I always appreciate when authors add diversity to the relationships within the story, and Grey certainly had a wealth of relationships going on. There was a mother-daughter relationship between Echo and the Ala, the bestfriend relationships between Echo and Ivy, and Caius and Dorian, the unrequited love Dorian feels towards Caius, and the blooming romance between both Jasper and Dorian, and Caius and Echo.
- The last two are perhaps the most important, symbolically, in their representation of cross-racial relationships and LGBTQ2+ relationships. Sometimes, I feel that relationships of this nature are simply the author’s attempt to create a sort of forced diversity, but in The Girl at Midnight it felt natural, and most importantly, the relationships plays integral roles in the plot, instead of simply being token relationships.
Things I Didn’t Like:
- The first half of the book. It was dull, slow, and didn’t inspire even a bit of emotion in the reader. The characters were mediocre at best, and the trivial relationships Echo had within the Nest were simply cringe-worthy.
- Talking about cringe-worthy relationships; Echo and Rowan. I think I speak for all readers when I say that I am glad that’s over. Their relationship read and felt like a 12 year old’s first romance, and it was painful. The only redeeming moment was when Rowan freed Echo from her prison cell. Otherwise, every time they were together, or Echo was thinking about him, I was praying for it to end.
- The predictability of the plot. I won’t reveal too much here (in the interest of not littering this review with spoilers), but I think most people who have read this book would agree that pretty much every so-called “plot twist” could be seen coming a mile away. Rose, the relationships, the identity of the Firebird, etc etc.
This was a book with lots of potential that just fell short of the mark as a result of some poor storytelling. While it was well-written and the second half of the book definitely showed great improvements, the predictability and general dullness of the plot in the first half of the plot simply cannot be overlooked. Overall, The Girl and Midnight was a mediocre read, and I’ll definitely be picking up the sequel, The Shadow Hour, to see if Grey can continue improving the story, and shaping it into something worthwhile.