Review: The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey

Image from Goodreads
Title: The Girl at Midnight
Series: The Girl at Midnight #1
Author: Melissa Grey
Publisher: ATOM
Publication Date: April 20415
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 4/5
Synopsis from Goodreads
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.
REVIEW BY SOPHIE 8:3
The Girl At Midnight is a fantasy novel by Melissa Grey as her debut novel. Set in the present day under the streets of New York, the story follows the lives of multiple characters who each have very different backgrounds and back stories. The Girl At Midnight is also a multiple narrative book, telling the feelings and points of view of many characters.
However, the story does have a ‘main’ character, a former homeless child Echo. Echo is 17 years old for most of the plot, although when she is first introduced at the start of the story she is 7 years old. Echo’s character is likeable, and throughout the plot it is clear that her main goal is to be accepted into the Avicen society. Unlike all the other characters in this novel Echo is human and she is also mortal. She lives in the Avicen nest with the Ala, a mysterious character who we don’t learn a lot about during the plot. The Avicen are a specie of mythical creature. They are written about in Russian folk tales but in The Girl at Midnight they are not anything like how they are depicted in the Russian legends. The Avicen have feathers that replace hair and are described by the author as different types of birds. I think this helps the reader imagine the Avicen better as we are familiar with the types of birds they are being compared to. Another key feature of the Avicen is their eyes, they are constantly described as large, wide and extremely dark.
The Avicen live under the streets of New York in ‘The Nest’. From the narration of Echo we learn that ‘the nest’ is a collection of many towns which have shops, houses, cafes, bars and much more. The Avicen are not the only mythical species to inhabit the nest however, we also learn that The Nest is a home for warlocks. We do not learn very much about the Warlocks during the storyline nonetheless we are given the impression that they are not to be trusted by the way that the characters talk about them.
When we first meet Echo, during the prologue, she is a homeless pick pocket who sleeps and lives in the New York library. At the start of the first chapter we skip to when we learn that although Echo is much happier she is still a pickpocket and still prefers to spend her time in the library or around her many books. She does not feel like the Avicen accept her and is desperate to please them.
Echo has a relationship with an Avicen boy called Rowan who is a committed member of the Avicen Army. At first their relationship seems strong and I liked Rowan’s character as he appears to be loving and loyal. As the plot unravels I began to like him less and less right alongside Echo.
Echo is also friendly with Ivy, a female Avicen whom she has known since she first arrived at The Nest. I liked Ivy’s character a lot because she is very forgiving and she has very good morals one of my favourite lines from the book is said by her while she is healing someone brutally injured who had previously injured her, when the character asks why Ivy is helping him after what he did to her she replies “Because there is enough cruelty in this world without me adding to it”. This line was extremely effective to me as the reader and I think it tells you a lot about Ivy’s character.
Overall, the reader gets the impression that the Avicen as a whole are not very kind toward anyone who is not of Avicen blood and in my opinion they are not very nice characters with the exception of Echo and Ivy. Incorporating the themes of racism and prejudice within the narrative.
Throughout the story there is a war taking place between the Avicen race and another mythical race the Drakharin. The Drakharin are also described as looking like humans but they have scales on their cheekbones. There are three main Drakharin characters, the Drakharin prince called Caius, his loyal guard and best friend Dorian and Caius’s sister Tanith. At the beginning of the book I disliked Caius’s character a lot as he seemed very rude and cruel but he soon became one of my favourite characters along with Dorian who I liked because of his loyalty and sweetness. Although, Tanith was one of my least favourite characters as she is so power-hungry and is desperate for war. All the Drakharin appear as fierce and cruel at the beginning of the book but the reader gradually begins to understand and like some of them during the course of the story.
There was nothing I disliked about the book as I felt like everything that should have happened did happen. I would’ve liked to learn a little more about Taniths background and history as the plot does not reveal much about her back story and focuses in more on her brother Caius. I feel that the book was very well written and I really felt involved in the fantasy world that the author had created. Although during the first couple of chapters I found it quite hard to understand and to imagine the scene and some of the characters as there is so much being described at once, but after stumbling my way through the first few chapters I felt like I understood exactly what was going on and could imagine and picture everything easily and I found myself becoming emotionally attached to some of the characters, especially Echo as she always seemed to try her best and then somehow end up feeling like she’d let someone down.
I loved the way the book was multiple narrative because it really gave you a much wider view on the worlds of both the Avicen and the Drakharin and it helped me as the reader to understand the lives and the thoughts of each character. I think it also made the plot more interesting and believable and helped me to grow to like or dislike characters easily. It also made the world that was being built more believable because you got the point of view of humans, Drakharins, Avicen, children, adults, males and females so you really got a good sense and idea of what was going on.
Although the main storyline of the book is about Echo’s quest to find the firebird I think the main point of the book and the main focus is about seeing if the Avicen and the Drakharin who have been at war for many years will be able to come to terms and get along. I think the author really described the relationships between Avicen and Drakharin well and included good morals and deeper meanings to the book as well as the general plot. For me, the ending was not predictable at all and I would not have guessed what happened however the ending was satisfying but left room for a good sequel.
I do not read many books of this genre and I don’t think I have read a book quite likeThe Girl At Midnight the closest books I’ve read too this style is probably The Windsinger and The Northern Lights both of which I thoroughly enjoyed.
I think that The Girl At Midnight would be best understood and appreciated by people between 12 and 15 as it has some mature themes but is also a very well written book. There is some bad language but I feel like it was used at appropriate times and was not overused. I would definitely recommend this book to a friend and to anyone who likes fantasy and well written, descriptive books. I will be looking to purchase the sequel soon which comes out later on in July and cannot wait to read it.
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