GGB Reviews: THE GIRL AT MIDNIGHT by Melissa Grey
Disclaimer: I like birds and I love dragons, so when I heard there was a book where the two were at war, my hands immediately curled into grabby-hands position. I’ve been excited to read this book since its cover was revealed—even more so since I learned that the author, Melissa Grey, was one of the first members of GGB! And I’m happy to say that my expectations weren’t just met, they were sent up in a mushroom cloud of awesome.
Echo is a human pickpocket in an underground world populated by two ancient species at war: the Avicen, a race of magic-wielding bird-like people, and the Drakhain, a human-like race descended from dragons. Within a stolen music box, Echo discovers the first of a trail of clues that will supposedly lead to the Firebird, a mythical entity of legend that supposedly has the power to stop the conflict between the two races. With the help of Ivy (Echo’s best friend), Caius (the Drakhain prince), Dorian (Caius’ loyal guard and friend), and Jasper (a shady Avicen who owes Echo a favor) Echo sets off on a journey to find the Firebird, discovering along the way that the Firebird’s power might just be closer than anyone could have ever guessed.
The first thing to be said about The Girl at Midnight was the writing. It’s tight and easy to sink into, but more than that, it builds a dark and curious atmosphere that entices readers to believe this world behind closed shadows really does exist.
The descriptions in particular are enjoyable, simple yet vivid for a book where most travelling is done through shadows. Grey has a way of making even the dirtiest corners of New York City sound alluring, and the way she describes little things like desserts is downright mouthwatering. Macarons in particular. I’m not ashamed to say that that while reading I needed to take frequent snack breaks…which were inevitably met with disappointment because the food I was shoving in my face was not nearly as delicious as the food the characters always seemed to be eating or trading in exchange for favors.
As a story with a quest, the novel moves along at the pace you would expect it to—which is to say, quickly. Echo runs from clue to clue, overcoming each obstacle thanks to her natural instinct and a lot of luck. With each clue the mystery surrounding the Firebird grows, until it reveals itself and takes flight in a conclusion that promises to leave an even more exciting sequel in its wake.
Despite the unique plot, I’d say that the strongest aspect of The Girl at Midnight is its characters. There’s a variety of personalities; characters are colorful (even without the bright plumage and scales) and actually memorable—which is more than can be said for many urban fantasies. The dialogue is genuinely funny, and Echo banters with her friends like you expect friends to do. There’s romance too, but even without the kissing it’s easy to see the chemistry between the various ships that set sail by the book’s end.
All things considered, The Girl at Midnight is a lovable and strong debut, as well as easily accessible for those who might not be as familiar or comfortable with fantasy. I can’t recommend it enough, especially to those readers who enjoyed Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone and Leigh Bardugo’s The Grisha Trilogy. Make The Girl at Midnight the next read on your list!