Series: The Girl at Midnight #1
Published by Delacorte Press on April 28th 2015
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Magic lives in our darkest corners.
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.
Welcome to the first round of swans vs. dragons!
To be honest, I almost dropped this when still nothing significant had happened when I was already 30% (!) into the book. Slow, introductory starts are appropriate for fantasy books in the league of The Final Empire, which is 600 pages long and has extensive world-building, but with only 350 to build a foundation for the series, less so.
I’m glad I didn’t lose my patience though, because the book does pick up around the middle, and this was also the point at which I finally became somewhat invested in the story.
This book was a full of Ups and Downs for me:
✔ Echo – snarky and feisty 17-yr old heroine with a rough past, a soft spot for candy and a passion for collecting unusual words in different languages. Caius – he’s got the crown, the looks, the wits, and the blood-thirsty sister who wants him gone at any price. And then we’ve also got equally lovable side characters: the royal guard, the opportunist thief, and the healer apprentice with the gentle soul.
✘ Sluggishly slow start with no major plot events in the first half of the book.
✔ No insta-love. And, well, barely a love triangle (when I say barely, I mean one love interest fell out of the picture pretty quickly). Praise the Heavens.
✘ Lack of proper world-building. Like seriously, you can’t just plant swan-like and dragon-like creatures on planet Earth and then expect the reader to go along with it without an explanation. I know that urban fantasy can be more difficult than fantasy for this exact reason: You take the world as we know it and transform it, rather than creating your own realm and following your own rules. But still, I would’ve expected it to be more enlightening.
✔ The element of thievery, breaking & entering etc. Naturally, I love it.
✘ Certain elements of the magic system did not make sense to me and were not explained (e.g. if Echo is able to use magic as a human, can anyone use magic?)
One of my biggest issues was the completely unoriginal setting and storyline. So now here I come with the Daughter of Smoke & Bone parallels and, I apologize, but these aspects were too familiar to be ignored.
☛ The century-old-species-vs-century-old-species element (basically: Angels vs. Chimaera)
☛ The mortal-girl-raised-among-fantastical-creatures element (basically: Karou’s childhood with Brimstone).
☛ The entering-a-portal-and-parallel-world element (basically: portals into Eretz)
(☛) The mortal-girl-falls-in-love-with-the-enemy element (yeah ok, I’ll admit that one’s spread pretty much all over YA)
☛ The mortal-girl-has-big-revelation-in-the-end (the nature of which definitely struck me as familiar, reminding me of both DoSaB and Ruin and Rising)
☛ The we-must-find-the-firebird-before-the-
Darkling enemy-does element (no comment)
To draw a conclusion: Though it lacked originality, had a slow pace, and the world-building was mediocre, I was still entertained by The Girl at Midnight as a whole. And snarky Echo was definitely a major plus.