Publisher: Audible/Listening Library
Series: The Girl at Midnight #1
Narrator: Julie Whelan
Edition: Audiobook, 9 hours and 55 mins
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Purchase: Amazon / Barnes & Noble *
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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, though 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.
Echo is a cunning thief and the only human among the bird-like Avicen. When she steals a birthday gift for the woman who took her in, she starts a chain of events she was never prepared to take on. The Girl at Midnight is a beautifully written beginning to a series that chronicles her journey to find the mythical Firebird and try and stop the centuries old war between the Avicen and the Drakharin with the most unlikely of allies.
This is one of those books that I’m glad I chose to listen to instead of reading. I’m pretty sure I would have enjoyed, but I’m also sure I would have enjoyed it a little less because of that. The writing style is gorgeous and poetic, and it would have taken me ages to get through it…but listening to it was completely perfect. It was a book meant to be read aloud and I hardly took breaks from it, even listening to it while I played story heavy video games. The pacing is sort of slow and overall not a ton happens within these pages, but it is a book that focuses on the characters and much of the time is spent within their heads as they break and re-write rules in order to survive and move forward. Added to all the awesome prose are some awesome little twists and turns that up the stakes and keep the characters running forward.
I’m not big on character driven novels, as they do take more time than normal however I love them when the characters are relatable and have actual problems to deal with. Echo is mostly a loner, but she’s well read, intelligent, and quick with a witty comeback. Add that to the fact that she’s slow to trust and open up, and this is a girl who speaks to me on different levels. It’s rare you run into a YA novel where the teen actually cusses, but when it happens I basically do a little thank you dance to the publisher. Now Echo isn’t a sailor in disguise so it’s not constant but it’s nice to see some realism when it comes to teenage vocabulary. We get to meet her boyfriend, Rowan, who definitely seems like a nice guy and their relationship is incredibly cute. Puppy love at it’s finest. My favorite characters are Jasper and Caius though. Jasper is an Avicen who is, for lack of a better word, sassy. He’s highly sarcastic and flirt with pretty much everyone, but oh how I shipped him and Dorian. So cute! Caius is Drakharen, a rather important member of their society at that, and finding out his closely guarded past while he let down his barriers was a focal point for me. Despite having a ton of reasons to be jaded and callus he remains hopeful about bringing an end to the war, and his painful past really tore me up.
Julie Whelan is an excellent narrator. She does accents so well I actually had to check to see if there were multiple readers, plus some people just have one of those voices that you want to curl up in and listen to forever.
Definitely a fantastic start to a series! If you like more character based fantasy and don’t mind a bit of mystery surrounding the history of people, then I definitely think it’s worth checking out.