Series: The Girl at Midnight #1
Published by Delacorte Books for Young Readers on April 28, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, Romance, Urban Fantasy, Young Adult
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For readers of Cassandra Clare's City of Bones and Leigh Bardugo'sShadow 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.
The Girl at Midnight was one of my highly anticipated books of 2015. And it certainly delivered a unique, lyrically descriptive, and romantic story that I greatly enjoyed.
A war has been raging between the Avicen (bird like people) and the Drakharin (Dragon people) for longer than most people can remember. There is a legend both sides share of the firebird, a force that can stop the war and bring peace between the two. Echo, a human who was taken in by a powerful and wise Avicen when she was very young is sent on a desperate quest to find the fire bird, and along the way she must join forces with the enemy to reach their shared goal.
One of my favorite things about this book was the writing style. I don’t normally like books with lots of description, but this is very similar to Daughter of Smoke and Bone, where the entire story has a dreamlike quality to it, and the writing, even though Echo is a sass and uses pop culture references, feels very lyrical and ethereal.
Words were another thing Echo hoarded. She’d started that collection long before she’d ever come to the library, back when she lived in a house she’d rather not remember, with a family she’d be happier forgetting. Back then, the only books she’d had belonged to a set of outdated encyclopedias. She’d had few possessions to call her own, but she’d always had her words. And now, she had a trove full of stolen treasures, some more edible than others.
The Avicen and Drakharin were both clever and unique types of characters; the Avicen have feathers for hair, while the Drakharin have luminescent dragon scales on their cheeks and the back of their hands. I liked that they were descended from people that looked more like their respective animal, but as time went on, they became more human like.
The world building is very solid, and we get to see lots of whimsical elements, like the Nest, a popular home for Avicen in NYC, and the Agora, an underground Avicen market. We get a sense of the whole society, not just a vague inclination that these otherworldly things exist, but Echo’s story is separate from them. It definitely reminded me at times of Karou walking from the streets of Prague into Brimstone’s workshop in Daughter of Smoke and Bone, though Echo steals things like music boxes, not teeth.
Echo is such a sass, and it’s hilarious. Especially when she first meets Caius, the Drakharin Prince who is also seeking the Fire Bird.
“What is this?” Echo said. She gripped the dagger tightly. “First One-Eye, now you. Am I being stalked by the cast of America’s Next Top Dragon?” The Drakharin simply blinked at her, silent.
“Tough crowd,” she said.
Echo is brave, though she doesn’t usually feel it, and she always has something witty to say. I loved the slow build of her relationship with Caius. I knew they would end up together from the first moment we were introduced to both of them, and I was glad I turned out to be right. Caius and Echo need someone who understands them, and they were perfect for each other.
His smile was pulled from him, against his will, a hostage of Echo’s charm.
There was another relationship that surprised me, but I enjoyed nonetheless. I feel like that’s the part that lots of people are comparing to City of Bones. Content wise, it is a gay relationship, just FYI.
Much of this book is a treasure hunt, filled with witty dialogue and romantic descriptions and the struggle of overcoming deep-rooted discrimination and hatred. The beginning was a little slow for me, which is why it doesn’t get five stars, but once it picked up about a third of the way in, I absolutely loved it. Highly recommended for fans of The Daughter of Smoke and Bone Trilogy by Laini Taylor, and yes, The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare. For once, the marketing department was right.