Release Date: 28th April 2015
Edition: UK proof, review copy
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 boarders on 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 ever 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.
The Girl at Midnight is a mystical, compelling fantasy debut about two unique, sparring races and their uneasy alliance to end a bloody war.
Melissa Grey’s debut immediately brought both Daughter of Smoke and Bone and City of Bones to mind. The strange, unheard of races of the Avicen and the Drakarin and the mysterious hidden cities, while not a new angle, it was an intriguing and appealing world set-up. But one of the best things? The pinnacle of Avicen magic and residence is in midtown Manhattan – it was beyond cool to be able to picture places and landmarks mentioned, gauge distances and reaches accurately. And if that’s not a further reason to travel then I don’t know what is!
The story had a slow start and it took me a good 15-20% to connect with it; not too much of any significance really happened until then, or at least anything that grabbed me. And then suddenly I wanted to read just one more chapter. Echo is a brilliant heroine – brave, loyal, sarcastic and sassy – and I warmed to her quickly. She’s the perfect badass to follow the dangerous quest for the firebird and go up against the fearsome Drakharin, with some unexpected allies. I won’t divulge you makes up this band of heroes, but I really loved the dynamic between them. There was some resentment, fear, crushes and a mishmash of knowledge and experience, and their differences worked for them.
The firebird is a legend for both the Avicen and the Drakharin, a mystical being that is prophesised to end the war between the races and Echo, the Ala and the Dragon Prince are all desperate for it. But they have no idea where the firebird is or what form it takes, until a series of clues lead Echo to a map. I loved the treasure hunt style of the search for the firebird. A clue led to an object with contained a map which led to the next; spread all over the world and seemingly with no link between the objects. It’s brilliant, and it’s the kind of fantasy adventure I’d imagine for myself, though I don’t think I’d be able to handle myself as well as Echo does!
The Girl at Midnight is a fast-paced, intriguing start to what I’m sue is going to be a popular fantasy trilogy. I’d really like the sequel now, please!
Thanks to Atom for the review copy.