Plot: Echo lives in a world where she doesn’t belong. An orphaned human child, she gets taken in by the Ala, who is Avicen, a species of birdlike humanoids who live in the underbelly of the human world. Their rivals are the Drakhair, dragon-like beings, with whom they’ve been fighting with for centuries. Echo is just a simple thief who knows just enough magic to portal herself around the world, and she’s content with her life. She has the Ala in place of a parent, Ivy as a best friend and a budding new romance with the golden feathered Rowan. Echo’s life starts to tumble from the moment when she steals a music box from a warlock. She learns that the fabled firebird of legend is actually real and the Ala sends her on a mission to find it. The mission sends her across the world, gets her tossed into dungeons, thrown into a mix of characters never expected to interact, and get a crash course in how to really live rather than to just survive.
Review: From the get-go, this reminded me a whole hell of a lot of Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone: human orphan taken in by otherworldly creature, they accept her, but maybe not fully, human learns a little bit of magic to get by, there’s “bad guys” and there’s a flit of romance with said “bad guy”. However, the books were different enough for me to become fully invested within The Girl At Midnight. The world was artfully created, and the characters felt real, even though they were covered with feathers or scales. The characters also drew me in, since they were a bit more developed and complex than a lot of YA characters; Echo wasn’t a typical mousey protagonist without agency…she stood her ground, had history, had secrets, had motives…it was all really well done.
The storyline itself, away from the magic of it all, was very predictable. I didn’t mind knowing what was going to happen by the end of the book when I was less than half-way through. The characters drove through well enough to keep me excited to see their reactions to what was happening around them. The predictability is the reason why I gave this four stars, rather than five. This book is 100% what I would call a mashup of magical realism and urban fantasy, but it’s always hard to categorize these days since many books cover many genres. Needless to say, it’s my favorite type of magic-meets-urban-world setting, and the writing’s pace made me forget that I knew what was happening until I got to the climaxes and found myself un-surprised.
I loved each second of this book, and I’m totally interested in reading the concluding novels to the trilogy (I think?), just to see if the story starts to get a bit more unpredictable. I want to read more about the characters and the relationships that were introduced in this first book–from the good to the bad.