The Girl at Midnight (The Girl at Midnight #1)
by Melissa Grey
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Source: ARC provided by NetGalley and Hardcover
Goodreads link: (click here)
What's it about?
The world that we know and see as mere mortals isn't the only one that exists. The busiest places in our world are actually entrances to the in-between, magical portals that allow travel to anywhere. There are two ancient races of near immortal beings that inhabit the realm we cannot see. One race, the Avicen, is descended from birds, with feathers for hair. The other, the Drakharin, is descended from dragons, complete with shining scales on their skin. These races are both beautiful and magical and they do not get along. They've been at war for ages. Ancient enchantments hide them and their magic from humans, but every once in a while, a human becomes part of that world. Seventeen-year-old Echo is one of them. Echo is a runaway pickpocket who lives in a library. At the age of seven, she was literally taken under the wing of the Ala, a powerful Avicen. The Ala become her only family, but she never quite fit in with the Avicen. She has a few good friends and even a budding romance going, but far more of the Avicen don't like or trust her because she's human.
Over the years, Echo has kept to her thievery business. When she steals a music box containing the key to locating a powerful, mythical Firebird, she is thrust into the middle of a centuries-old war between the Avicen and the Drakharin. The Firebird promises power and an advantage to whoever possesses it. Both sides want it, but Echo somehow finds herself on neither side, working towrds peace instead of conquest. She isn't alone, though. The Ala, a few other Avicen and even some rogue Drakhharin are helping her find the Firebird. One of the Drakharin, Caius, is the former Dragon Prince, who was recently dethroned. He claims to also want peace, but should Echo trust him? She's been taught that the Drakharin are the enemy, but as she gets to know Caius, she begins to understand that not everything is quite so black and white. The only things she knows is that she must find the Firebird before it gets into the wrong hands, and the wrong hands are any but her own. She's a tough girl who's spent her life on the streets, so she is more than ready to fight for what she wants, no matter the consequences.
The Girl at Midnight is an Urban Fantasy with very pretty writing, interesting characters and some really cool mythology. It definitely had a Daughter of Smoke and Bone (Laini Taylor) feel to it, but that story had a bit more ambiance, with it being set in the Czech Republic. Where Daughter of Smoke and Bone spent more time building the setting, The Girl at Midnight was more focused on the mythology. I also could also see the comparison that's been made to The Mortal Instruments, because of the whole "world beyond what the mundane can see" thing. I do not, however see a comparison to The Grisha (Leigh Bardugo) trilogy. There may have been a quest for a Firebird in both, but that is the only similarity. The Grisha is 100% fantasy world, while The Girl at Midnight was set in our modern day world with a a world containing magic beyond it.
Now that I got all the comparison stuff out of the way, I'll talk about the book itself.
I really enjoyed characters, the mythology and the creatures. Cool and beautiful magical people that have bird-like and subtle dragon-like features, yes, please! Echo was a great main character, too. She was definitely a tough-talking badass that I enjoyed following. Even with her toughness, she still had a vulnerable side that gave her believable depth. I also loved the secondary characters, all of whom were well rounded. They all had their good qualities, their flaws, their quirks, their insecurities and their own unique stories.
When I was trying to give my Goodreads rating I was back and forth between 4 and 5 stars. I kind of settled on 4.5. I really enjoy it, it was beautifully written, but there was just a little something that was holding it back from being 5 stars. Perhaps it was the comparison to books like Daughter of Smoke and Bone and The Mortal Instruments, which were solid 5 star reads for me. There was a bit of The Girl at Midnight (in the middle of the book) that kind of felt like it took a while happen, and there wasn't much action in that part, just a lot of character interaction. I do believe that was necessary, so maybe it was just me. Throughout the book, there was plenty of action, especially at the end, and the story stayed engaging.
All in all, I enjoyed this enchanting urban fantasy and I can't wait to see where it goes next!