Author: Melissa Grey
Narrator(s): Julia Whelan
Series: The Girl at Midnight, book #1
Length: 9 hrs 55 mins
Publisher: Listening Library (Random House)
Publication Date: April 28, 2015
Source: received from publisher via Netgalley, borrowed audiobook from library
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible
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, though 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.
This is going to be one big ole contradictory review because the things I liked about this book are also the things that bothered me about this book. The comparisons to both the Daughter of Smoke and Bone and The Mortal Instruments series were very apt because much of this book felt very familiar to me. And yet the author put her own unique spin on the story and characters, making them her own. I know that "new ideas" have pretty much been exhausted these days, and so I can't hold it against the author that her story seems inspired by other recent books. It's the execution of the story that makes this a worthwhile read, despite similarities to those other books.
I started out reading the review copy I had, but I was finding it difficult to get into the story. I think I got to 23% before I put it on hold in favor of waiting for the audiobook version to become available. That was probably the best decision because once I started the audio, I finished it within a day. It's narrated by the venerable Julia Whelan, and I don't think she's ever performed a book that I didn't like. This was going to be a 3 1/2 star read but because of the narration, I feel it deserves the full four stars.
Even after deliberating for a couple of weeks, I'm still not sure if my overall enjoyment of the story was due in part to the fact that it reminded me so much of one of my favorite series or if I just generally liked it. I know I enjoyed it…that much is certain. It had a snarky protagonist who went to great lengths for those she cared about. It also featured a love triangle that wasn't, which is my favorite kind…where the heroine grows and realizes that what she thought she had with one love interest was nothing compared to that which she could have, even if that love might be a bit star-crossed.
The characters themselves are very reminiscent of those in both of the aforementioned series and their dynamic was also strangely familiar, as it seemed to borrow heavily from The Mortal Instruments. You'll see what I mean when the two different groups converge and even their feelings are the same. Even the idea of reincarnation is present, though it manifests in a different way. The world was rich and fantastical, but I felt so comfortable with it because it was redolent of the two warring factions in Daughter of Smoke and Bone and even the use of portals for travel.
The Girl at Midnight was an enjoyable read but not a unique one. Even so, I find myself wanting the next book. I'm hoping that the similarities to other series will end with book one and the real world-building will really begin in the sequel.
About the author:
Melissa Grey penned her first short story at the age of twelve and hasn't stopped writing since. As an undergrad at Yale, she learned how ride a horse and shoot a bow and arrow at the same time, but hasn't had much use for that skill since graduating in 2008.
Her debut novel, THE GIRL AT MIDNIGHT, was published by Delacorte/Random House.
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