I've had The Girl at Midnight sitting in my TBR pile for quite some time. I can't even remember why I ever bought it or how it caught my attention in the first place, but I do remember being incredibly excited, buying it, and then letting it sit on my shelves for years.
But I finally read it and really, really enjoyed it.
The Girl at Midnight follows Echo, a human girl who has been adopted by The Ala, a bird-like creature and the Avicen's seer. The Avicen are an ancient race of creatures who've been forced to live under the Earth, specifically under New York City. Echo's human parents mistreated her, and the Ala found her in the New York City Library and took her in.
Counter to the Avicen is the Drakharin. The two species have been at war for many, many years. Enough that the children from each species grow up with myths about how the war started and why. (Each species are immortal, their aging stops once they reach maturity.) There's also a myth of the firebird: no one knows what it is, but what they do know is that it has the power to stop the war.
Echo, though she is human, is able to travel between cities with the help of Avicen magic. With a natural talent for stealing things, she uses the attainable magic to her advantage, going between cities stealing things, and running errands. At the beginning of the novel, we get to read about these shenanigans, but we also see Echo struggle to find a place with the Avicen and reflect on never fitting in with humans. When talk of the firebird becomes a serious topic, Echo independently sets herself up to find it so Ala and her friends aren't at risk.
Then chaos ensues and it's absolutely fantastic!
I love Echo as a main character. She's got flaws just like the rest of us, and she goes through real human emotions - not human experiences, but emotional human experiences. She felt super relatable even though she's in an urban fantasy setting. I think part of that has to do with the fact that she's the only human character but mostly to do with good writing and character development.
The way the world is built is really easy to take in - not too much all at once, but not dwelling enough that you become bored and skip through the narration. The dialogue felt really natural, too. Each character has a certain amount of depth that makes you question the good side vs. the bad side, and none of it is super clear. I also found myself comparing the political and social systems with that of North America's - particularly the US. I live in Canada, so I'm sort of watching the events in the States take place from afar, and reading this book is kind of like that. Though it was published in 2015, I think it had a lot of connections to our current events. There's a lot to be said for a narrative that can do that.
We get to go between a third person point of view of Echo as well as Caius, the Drakharin Prince. This provided some awesome juxtaposition to their very different lives. No spoilers, but they eventually collide... in the best way... no spoilers! Caius is looking for the firebird too, and his sister, Tanith is standing in his way. His chapters were a great surprise. At first, I was a little confused because is story line is mentioned in absolutely no descriptions of this book. I thought it might be a flashback or something, but I ended up loving his character and how complex he is!
He's a Prince, and he struggles a lot in distancing his personal life from his royal life. He struggles a lot with morality, as well. What he really wants is to end the war, and he wants the firebird to do it. His sister consistently tries to get in his way, as she believes it's just a myth.
I'm so excited to continue reading this trilogy, although I'm a bit nervous. Nervous as in like going from The Darkest Minds to Never Fade nervous, not bad-nervous. (If you've read TDM you know exactly what I'm talking about.)
I feel like I can recommend this book to so many people so here's a list of books, that if you've liked, you'll like The Girl At Midnight: Daughter of Smoke and Bone (cause of the hidden world), Six of Crows (cause stealing), The Crown's Game (cause royalty).
This was a 5/5 stars for me, and you can now find it on my goodreads shelf, "the favourites."