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!


Review: Savage Girl by Jean Zimmerman

17987214Publisher: Viking Adult

Release Date: March 6, 2014

Pages: 416

Format: eARC

Source: Publisher via First To Read

Series: N/A

Genre(s): Adult, YA Crossover Appeal, Historical Fiction, Mystery

Synopsis from Goodreads:

A riveting tale from the author of The Orphanmaster about a wild girl from Nevada who lands in Manhattan’s Gilded Age society

Jean Zimmerman’s new novel tells of the dramatic events that transpire when an alluring, blazingly smart eighteen-year-old girl named Bronwyn, reputedly raised by wolves in the wilds of Nevada, is adopted in 1875 by the Delegates, an outlandishly wealthy Manhattan couple, and taken back East to be civilized and introduced into high society.

Bronwyn hits the highly mannered world of Edith Wharton era Manhattan like a bomb. A series of suitors, both young and old, find her irresistible, but the willful girl’s illicit lovers begin to turn up murdered.

Zimmerman’s tale is narrated by the Delegate’s son, a Harvard anatomy student. The tormented, self-dramatizing Hugo Delegate speaks from a prison cell where he is prepared to take the fall for his beloved Savage Girl. This narrative—a love story and a mystery with a powerful sense of fable—is his confession.

Continue reading “Review: Savage Girl by Jean Zimmerman”