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Everything Alyce: 'The Girl At Midnight' by Melissa Grey - SPOILER FREE REVIEW

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

'The Girl At Midnight' by Melissa Grey - SPOILER FREE REVIEW


First things first, I need to say a huge thank you to Atom publishing, for accepting my request to review this book on NetGalley, and to NetGalley for the service that they provide. 

"You're very curious for a little girl," the Ala said. "And it's midnight. You aren't supposed to be here."

As soon as I saw that 'The Girl At Midnight' was being compared to both The Mortal Instruments and 'The Daughter Of Smoke and Bone' series, I was completely sold. I absolutely loved The Mortal Instruments, and I've been looking to find a great novel that was similar to that, because I've read quite a few that have been remarkably average.
Thankfully, 'The Girl At Midnight' is a stunning debut that I flew through. We follow Echo, a young girl who has developed a close friendship with the Ala, a member of the Avicen. The Avicen are a bird like people - very similar to humans, apart from being completely covered in feathers - and while Echo is a human, she had run away from home at the tender age of seven, so it wasn't difficult for them to take her under their wings (excusing my pun). Echo is a thief, and when she decides to steal a music box as the Ala's birthday present a map is discovered folded up in a hidden panel, and Echo's life changes in ways that she could never have imagined.
The Avicen have been in a cold war with the Drakharin - a species covered in iridescent scales, who used to have the ability to transform into dragons, until their magic was depleted - since before anyone can remember, and with tensions still running high between them it seems as though a resurgence of the war will be imminently approaching. However, the map hints towards the location of the Firebird; a mythical creature said to be able to end the war in the best way for whichever side captures it. With the Avicen and the Drakharin both desperate to get their hands on it, it's down to Echo, as the only human in their midst, to travel to Tokyo and attempt to solve the biggest mystery that either of the species have ever seen...
Sometimes I can find it quite hard to get into fantasy novels, and it takes a special kind of writer to really drag me in, so I was pleasantly surprised when I found this one so hard to put down. Yes, it's an urban fantasy, so that was part of the appeal to me in the first place, but Melissa Grey just has such an amazing way of describing the things that she's writing about that you can't help but feel involved. The idea of the Avicen having different coloured feathers depending on their bird species was unique and intriguing - Jasper, the flamboyantly gay character, being a peacock was probably my favourite of the Avicen, but all of them had such individual personalities, even if they were only included for a matter of pages.
I worked out the eventual climax of the book really early on, but I didn't really believe it was going to happen, so I still managed to enjoy the journey to find the Firebird. I really do enjoy a good old fashioned quest novel, so with an object in mind and adventurous characters striving to find it was the perfect story for me. Because the characters can travel through something called the in-between, there are lots of different countries used as settings throughout this book, meaning that it never gets boring and it stays very fresh throughout, leaving you on your toes guessing where they might travel to next.
Also, I loved all of the main characters - there wasn't a single one of the viewpoints that we followed that I disliked, and I very often hate certain perspectives, so that was also a great testament to Melissa's writing. As well as this, the viewpoint shifts didn't seem contrived - sometimes there are too many perspectives and it doesn't seem necessary, but Melissa very cleverly made the viewpoints overlap instead of sitting next to each other, so often we'd be experiencing the same event through someone else, which was something I hadn't seen written a lot. There were also lots of hilarious scenes in this book - the dialogue felt so natural, so all of the characters bounced off of one another, and there were multiple sections that actually had me laughing out loud because of the sarcasm and the wit emanating from each of them.
The only thing that really annoys me about this book is that the second installment to the series isn't out until next July, and I don't think I can wait that long! I absolutely adore all of these characters so much that I just can't wait to see what happens to them, and it's the first time in a while that I've felt extremely emotionally involved in couples in a novel, so I just want to see everything work out for them. I definitely agree with people who have been recommending this novel for fans of The Mortal Instruments, but I'd also say that there are aspects of 'The Host' by Stephenie Meyer coming into play, so it'll be interesting to see how that develops in the second novel too. If you're looking for a new YA urban fantasy series, you should probably pick this one up now - you will not be disappointed. 

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