The Girl At Midnight by Melissa Grey
Book One of The Girl At Midnight series
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publication Date: April 28, 2015
Rating: 4 stars
Source: eARC from NetGalley
Summary (from Goodreads):
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.
What I Liked:
This book was BEAUTIFUL. Inside and out. I loved the feel of this story, the amazing world-building, the likable characters, the story itself. So many things worked in this book. So many things worked for me, and I really, really enjoyed this one.
Echo is human, but she lives with the Avicen, creatures with feathers for hair, basically humans with bird-like qualities. They can do magic easily, whereas it takes a lot out of Echo to do magic (she's human). Echo is a thief, and she enjoys thieving. One day, Echo is sent to steal something that will help lead to the Firebird, a mythical thing that contains great power, and could lead to the end of the war between the Avicen and the Drakharin (dragon-like creatures that appear to look like humans; they can't fly, but they are skilled warriors and magic-wielders). She succeeds in obtaining the object, only to be thrown into the path of a powerful Drakharin who is unwelcome in Drakharin lands. Echo, Caius (a Drakharin; the Dragon Prince), Dorian (a Drakharin; Caius's loyal guard), Ivy (Echo's best friend; healer apprentice), and Jasper (a peacock Avicen; a guy who owes Echo a favor) must find the Firebird before the Drakharin - or the Avicen - find it first.
For the most part, I liked Echo. She's snarky and a bit sarcastic, and turns everything into a joke. I like her humor. I'm not like that, but I could definitely be around her in small or large doses, and enjoy her company. Echo is hilarious, but she's also dedicated and pretty clever.
Caius is extremely intelligent, astute, hardworking, selfless, loyal, fierce... and sweet. He's the Dragon Prince, recently usurped by his twin sister, Tanith. She's cruel and heartless, and doesn't want the war to end. Caius wants the war to end. When Tanith takes his seat of power from under him, he flees, and works with Echo to find the Firebird. An unlikely team of two Avicen, two Drakharin, and a human. Caius is my favorite character of the book, because of his strength of character and personality. He is hundreds of years old, but unlike some people (*cough* Edward Cullen *cough*), Caius possesses a timeless quality, maturity and intelligence that I respected and liked a lot.
The secondary characters were a joy to follow. Seriously, the secondary characters add additional humor to the book. Jasper is always teasing Dorian, making him blush or look away gruffly. Dorian is very conflicted about a lot of things, including how he treated Ivy, who was a prisoner of the Drakharin, under Tanith's orders. Ivy is a sweet character, a healer in training, which coming in handy several times throughout the book.
The story definitely has a Daughter of Smoke and Bone vibe to it. I've seen some people complain about this, and others praise it. I personally think it's great; the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series is so distinctive, and I don't think anything could come close to it, in terms of story and style. This book has the same feel to it, which I think is a very good thing.
The world-building is wonderful! This book is fantasy set in the modern world. There are bird people! There are dragons who can no longer fly! There is a war that has been going on for centuries! There is a mythical thing that could end it all (I was thinking "the one ring to rule them all", and Echo took the words out of my mouth at one point! Maybe we're more similar than I previously thought). Bits and pieces aren't super original, but put together, the entire story is really imaginative and fun and exhilarating.
I loved the story - there are many layers to it, with many characters and many subplots. But not so many that you get lost, or certain subplots get underdeveloped. The story is told in third person, usually from Echo's point-of-view, but also at times from Caius's, Ivy's, Dorian's, and I think Jasper's too (though I'm not certain). I like third person, so I didn't mind so many points-of-view at all. It wasn't overwhelming, because most of the time, it was limited to Echo, anyway.
There IS romance in this book! I actually wasn't expecting that, so I was pleasantly surprised. Not sure why I wasn't expecting romance. I've seen some people complain about a love triangle. Personally, I don't see one. There is one guy, and one girl, and one guy who is sort of there but has no chance. Echo never wavers, in terms of who she feels for, in her soul and heart. One is like, a long-time infatuation. The other is a mature, deep desire and emotion and affection. If that makes sense. There's also a twisted part to the romance, which I'm wary of, but it doesn't necessarily have to do with the pair that I want to end up together. IT'S COMPLICATED, OKAY? But no love triangle. Also, no insta-love. I LOVE the romance. The banter and chemistry is slow-burn and lovely.
There is a ton of action in this book, and it doesn't stop until the very end, when the whole story is over. So much fighting and killing and escaping and swords and maps and fun things like that! The ending is satisfying, and not quite a cliffhanger, but it will leave you wanting more. Especially in terms of the romance (not in a bad way). Good thing there are two books to follow!
What I Did Not Like:
There is something about the romance that is bothering me a bit, and it's bothering Echo too (and the love interest, though I must say - he is MUCH more than a love interest). I can't say what it is without giving things away, but I really want to be sure of Echo and the guy. I want to know 100% that it's the two of them, in a budding relationship, with no past, present, or future weighing them down. It's kind of complicated, but if you read this book, you'll know what I mean. It's nothing terrible or bad, per say, but it's something that's in the back of mind, tickling my subconsciousness.
In any case, The Thing is why this book is getting 4 stars, versus 5 stars. Not the worst Thing in the world, but I'd prefer otherwise. Of course, I'm not writing the book, so I have no say in Things, but it's a preference, you know?
Would I Recommend It:
I would sooooo recommend this book, so much! Fantasy fans, fantasy non-fans, basically anyone, give this book a chance! It's got a gorgeous cover, so, if anything, at least your bookshelf will look great! But in all seriousness, this book is awesome. I don't think you'd regret reading this book, even if you absolutely hated it (which you won't, hopefully). It's worth the read, and even if this book gets super popular and over-hyped, I'd still recommend it!
4.5 stars -> rounded down to 4 stars. It will still probably be a year-end favorite, because it was so good! Like, reread-worthy good. I can't wait to read the sequel!
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