*This book was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This is no way swayed my opinions.*
The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey is one of those rare books that I immediately fell in love with. It’s about a girl named Echo who is a runaway that has grown up surrounded by an ancient race of people called the Avicen. The Avicen (a bird-like race of people with feathers for hair) have been at war with the Drakhar (a dragon-like race of people with scales) for ages and Echo is tasked with searching for the mysterious Firebird which as the power to end the war. Echo is a brazen protagonist and her endless sass is charming. Her tough exterior is no doubt a result of her childhood which she spent pickpocketing on the streets of NYC and living at the New York Public Library. While she’s extremely loyal to the Ala (the Avicen who “adopted” her), Echo is able to think big picture and she trusts her instincts which are usually spot on. Echo may be the title character but the narrative is split between her and the Dragon Prince of the Drakhar named Caius. Caius is a caring leader with a volatile twin sister. Typically, when the narrative is split I usually find myself enjoying one over the other but this was not the case at all.
One of the reasons I became so effortlessly immersed and invested in the world of The Girl at Midnight is because of the setting. The story takes place in New York City near a plethora of my favorite landmarks. There were moments where I felt like I was actually at Grand Central Station or walking through the Met. I also constantly found myself feeling hungry while reading because there are several mentions of delicious foods (including some of my favorites ie. pork buns, burritos, macarons from Laduree). Echo journeys throughout the world with cryptic maps and a locket providing her only clues to finding the Firebird. The worldbuilding aspect of The Girl at Midnight is entirely enjoyable because it feels realistic. It’s basically the world we currently live in but with much more magic.
Another reason I loved The Girl at Midnight as much as I did is because of the relationships throughout the story. The friendship between Ivy and Echo, the mother-daughter dynamic between Echo and the Ala, the sibling rivalry between Caius and Tanith and the slight love triangles (which I won’t spoil) were all genuine and convincingly written in a way that really made me care about each character. Even the supporting characters like Dorian and Jasper were so well developed that it was easy to form a connection with them. Everyone just seemed so real that I kept having out loud reactions to what I was reading. I still feel quite attached especially to Echo and I cannot to find out where the story will go in the sequel.
Final Thoughts: Melissa Grey crafts a beautifully told and well thought out story. Echo and Caius each earned a place in my heart and I was drawn to the mythology of both the Avicen and the Drakhar. For the vast majority of the book, I felt like I could not stop reading because the story was so compelling, the setting was gorgeously described and the connection I formed with the characters was instantaneous. Also, I need the second book ASAP.
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. (via Goodreads)