Review: The Midnight Queen by Sylvia Izzo Hunter

Publisher: Ace Trade
Release Date: September 2nd, 2014
Pages: 432
Format: eARC
Source: First to Read
Series: Noctis Magicae, #1
Genre(s): Adult, Historical Fantasy, YA Crossover Appeal
Synopsis from Goodreads:

In the hallowed halls of Oxford’s Merlin College, the most talented—and highest born—sons of the Kingdom of Britain are taught the intricacies of magickal theory. But what dazzles can also destroy, as Gray Marshall is about to discover…

Gray’s deep talent for magick has won him a place at Merlin College. But when he accompanies four fellow students on a mysterious midnight errand that ends in disaster and death, he is sent away in disgrace—and without a trace of his power. He must spend the summer under the watchful eye of his domineering professor, Appius Callender, working in the gardens of Callender’s country estate and hoping to recover his abilities. And it is there, toiling away on a summer afternoon, that he meets the professor’s daughter.

Even though she has no talent of her own, Sophie Callender longs to be educated in the lore of magick. Her father has kept her isolated at the estate and forbidden her interest; everyone knows that teaching arcane magickal theory to women is the height of impropriety. But against her father’s wishes, Sophie has studied his ancient volumes on the subject. And in the tall, stammering, yet oddly charming Gray, she finally finds someone who encourages her interest and awakens new ideas and feelings.

Sophie and Gray’s meeting touches off a series of events that begins to unravel secrets about each of them. And after the king’s closest advisor pays the professor a closed-door visit, they begin to wonder if what Gray witnessed in Oxford might be even more sinister than it seemed. They are determined to find out, no matter the cost…

my rambles

Special thanks to Penguin’s First to Read for providing me with an advance copy for review!

Where do I even begin in reviewing The Midnight Queen? There were so many things about it that I thoroughly enjoyed and that made the book such an enthralling and magical story! I was first drawn in by the cover and then again by the synopsis, but after I actually started reading this book I knew that it was for me.

Although this book is shelved as Adult and is written in a more Adult style, the characters and storyline are definitely suitable and can be enjoyed just as much by those who prefer the Young Adult genre. Fantasy, no matter the “age group” tends to be slower paced in the beginning. And while some have said that The Midnight Queen was a little bit too slow going for their liking, I completely disagree. I found that the author’s writing style drew me in and kept me hooked until the real exciting and faster paced events began to occur.

One reason I feel pacing was no issue to me was that the world building and characters were so developed, but not in a boring way at all. You really got to understand this world with magic and I felt very attached to the characters early on. Not only that, but the whole beginning of the book has an air of mystery and intrigue to it that definitely kept me turning pages.

As I said before, the characters were so individually developed that you really got a feel for their personalities separately, along with the string of side characters. But my favorite character of all was Sophie. In this time period women were considered “lesser” and I loved Sophie’s determination and want to be different, and actually do something worthwhile. She was such a refreshing and headstrong girl that I couldn’t help but love and root for throughout the entire book!

I very rarely find myself giggling and smiling as largely with Adult books as I did at the romance in The Midnight Queen. Sophie, and the main character Gray’s relationship was quite possibly one of the most adorable, tender, and true relationships and I was definitely a fan of these two. They treated each other as equals, and I won’t say much as to not spoil, but there’s a chapter where they are pushed to realize their feelings for each other and their conversation is just the best! It wasn’t a picture perfect scene like in some books, but it was written to seem so real and from the heart. If you couldn’t tell, I love Sophie and Gray!

As for the main storyline, it focuses on more intrigue and mystery than the magic itself. I love that about this book, and “world.” Magic is present, and is used as a tool, but it’s in the background, which was something different that I hadn’t really seen before.

But all in all, The Midnight Queen was such a well crafted and magical story that kept me hooked until the very last page! I cannot wait to read more by this wonderful debut author, and I of course cannot wait to see where she takes this series!

xo

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Week in Review: August 17th

Week in Review

Week in Review is a weekly post in which I wrap up what’s happening in my life, in books, and in blogging (inspired by Anna @ Anna Reads)!


What I Did:

This is more book-related not life-related but, I placed my first ever order on Book Outlet! My birthday is coming up at the end of the month, and on a whim I decided to visit the site, and I saw too many books that I wanted. So, I placed a huge order that I told my mom to distribute to family members for my birthday. The main reason why I placed the order was because they’re having $20 off a purchase of $60+ (which isn’t as hard as you think to make) until August 18th! *Hint* You guys should go and buy all the books! 😉 I hope that they come in good condition because I inspect every inch of a book before I buy it in stores. I talked to a couple people and as long as you don’t order a used book they’re really good about replacing them if they come damaged. So, fingers crossed! I’ll probably have a whole separate haul post after my birthday because there’s a LOT of books, guys. I went crazy! :O

Links I Loved:

  • Kiera Cass, author of The Selection series had some REALLY exciting news to share with fans of the series! She asked us to Tweet and Instagram using #MoreSelection to unlock some early and extra content which you can check out HERE. But, oh wait! There’s more! Hear it from Kiera herself in her special announcement video!


*squeals with excitement*
Add book #4 and #5 to your Goodreads shelves!

  • Kristen @ My Friends are Fiction discusses book covers and when they scare you. Personally, I steer clear of the creepy covers, but every now and then I’ll pick one up for a change of pace. Shutter, one that she mentioned in her post, totally creeps me out, but I added it to my TBR right away!
  • Sandra @ Tea Between Books talks about illustrations in books, and her feelings regarding them. I’m a girl who’s a sucker for a book with a map, that’s for sure!
  • Ashley @ Nose Graze put up a very informative post for those of you who are still unsure about the right time to start requesting ARCs. Ashley’s posts are always wonderful and very informative for all your blogging and book blogging needs. If you’re not already following her, you must!
  • Nikki @ The Paper Sea puts both the US and the UK covers of The Jewel by Amy Ewing up against each other in her wonderful feature, Civil Wars!
  • Danielle @ Love at First Page discusses the anxiety felt when starting a currently unfinished series. I’m right there with her on every one I’ve read so far!

Books I Added to My Shelves:

Unlike last week’s no book week, this week I got a few books!

Downloaded FREE on iBooks:

Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter – I don’t really read on iBooks at all, but it was free so I thought “Hey, why not!” I may read it on my iPad sometime if I’m in the mood and I can’t find a physical or eReader copy before then.

For Review:

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The Midnight Queen by Sylvia Izzo Hunter – Have heard nothing about this one but I saw it up on First to Read and I just had to grab it! Between the cover and the synopsis I knew it sounded up my alley. It’s adult, but I think you guys may like it too!

Into the Grey by Celine Kiernan – This looks like such a unique ghost story book, and I’m just starting it now! Thanks so much to Jamie @ Fic Fare and Cuddlebuggery’s Little Blogger Big Ambitions program for this ARC!

Recently Finished and Currently Reading:

My most recent read was Trial by Fire by Josephine Angelini, which I’ll be reviewing on the blog tomorrow, so be sure to watch out for that! Hint: I liked it a lot! Witches are awesome, guys. I haven’t read a great witch book in such a long time so this was a much-needed, exciting read for me.

As I mentioned above, I just started reading Into the Grey by Celine Kiernan. I’m only a few chapters in and I’m really intrigued so far… Not sure what to expect of this one. We shall see…

On My Blog:

I hope you had a wonderful week! Let me know all about it in the comments!

xo, emily