Tuesday, 28 April 2015

The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey

This post contains a review and a bookish manicure.

The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey
Published April 28 by Atom
Source: Hachette AU
Rating: 3 stars

From the blurb: 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.

The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey is the first book in a new series being marketed to fans of books such as Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor. Echo, a seventeen year old girl considers the ancient, bird-like race of the Avicens to be her family, after she was taken in by their seer, The Ala, at age seven. The Avicens possess magic and so go unknown amongst humans, travelling the world via the in-between, and living below streets and train stations. There’s another ancient, dragon-like race, the Drakharins, they have their own territories and have been at war with the Avicens for centuries. The key to ending, or igniting the war, hinges on whoever can find the Firebird first.

Often when publishers suggest fans of another author or book will like their latest offering, it can lead to disappointment; either the new book is nothing like the comparisons, or is just not as good. In this case the similarities between The Girl at Midnight and the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series were clear from the beginning, from the main character’s attitude to the feathery cover. I do think fans of DoSaB will like it, but it definitely doesn't eclipse it.

The prologue set the scene and from then the story is filled with action; Echo’s life a as a thief keeps her busy travelling all over the world, but she loves to return home to her secret room in a public library. Her bond with The Ala was sweet, as was her friendship with Ivy, and new romance with Rowan. The mystery regarding her parents and original name kept me intrigued, though it seems if there’s anything to reveal regarding those facts, they’ll be revealed later in the series.

We also get the perspective from a range of other characters, most notably Caius, the Dragon Prince of the Drakharins, his best friend Dorian, and occasionally Ivy. My issue with most of the characters was that they seemed contrived, especially when it came to Caius. We meet him and realise he’s the leader of the opposing race, but then we find about his past love and his motive so it’s clear he’s not really a bad guy. I felt like there was no time for the reader to decide these things, they’re shown to us immediately, so it was obvious he would become a love interest for Echo.

The mystery of the Firebird was easy to solve as early on as during the prologue, and a lot of the other actions and coupling were quite obvious, too.

A few  other gripes for me: a character gets left behind and not mentioned again when it seemed like they could have taken him along, discovering the Firebird didn’t deliver the end to war, as was suggested all along, and repetitive movements (lip-biting and inner cheek-biting).

But, despite these small issues, I did enjoy the book. I read this in one day, after a month of not reading any fiction, and after I’d finished I found myself thinking about it and what was going to happen next, only to remind myself I’d finished the book hours earlier.

Thank you to Hachette for my review copy.

The wonderful people at Hachette ran a nail art competition for the release of The Girl at Midnight and asked me to pick a winner from the entries -  so fun! I’m thrilled that a bunch of Aussie bloggers joined in and did some bookish nail art, every entry was fantastic! Check out #girlatmidnight on Twitter to see the entries.

I also did some nails to match the cover, I used some nail tips because I have gel on my nails right now.

I started with a base of Ulta3 Lily White.

I used black acrylic paint for the diagonal black area.

I used a very fine brush and acrylic paint for the feathers.