Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Midnight Queen by Sylvia Izzo Hunter

Title: The Midnight Queen
Author: Sylvia Izzo Hunter
Genre: Fantasy-Historical Fiction
Series: N/A

Trade Paperback, 432 pages
Publication: September 2, 2014 by Ace Trade

Source: I received a review copy from the publicist in exchange for a honest review.

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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…
Once in awhile I like to mix up my reading, since I usually read YA and Urban Fantasy. So when I heard of The Midnight Queen, a Fantasy-Historical Fiction I knew right away I wanted to read it. Who doesn’t love a magical school setting (College! I usually read HS/Boarding school types) in Regency London?

The Midnight Queen had all the right ingredients for a captivating read; conspiracy theories, buried secrets, a lost princess, and a prophecy of the ‘chosen one’ but it wasn’t quite as I expected it to be. Hunter’s did a good job at setting the foundation of her magical world but she never really expanded on it further then the basis. For example, Merlin College is the most prestigious college around teaching magic to only the rich and talented prominent families yet we don’t learn much else of the college or what it looks like. Our main character Graham A.K.A Gray attends the college but within the first chapter he is already temporary sent away to his professor’s home; so we don’t see much of the college till the very end of the book but even then it was brief and not much detailed. As for the magical aspect, it seems that magic is something one must be born with. One can study as much as they want of magic, but that’s all they can do; only those with magic can cast spells and incantations. Again there isn’t much said about the overall magic system. Those with magic also have a main ability that they’re the greatest at like scrying or shape-shifting. I thought the characters’ abilities were all interesting but wished we knew more about it and how the characters got their specialized ability (scrying, shape-shifting, chameleon, siren call etc).

I am really picky when it comes to characters, I mean shouldn’t everyone be? When readers read a book, you want to feel and connect with the characters at all levels because frankly we are investing our time in the characters and their journey. Sadly, I wasn’t able to connect with Gray or Sophie. It isn’t to say that I dislike their characters, far from the fact. Gray was a really sweet and shy guy and Sophie was intelligent as she was headstrong. But I never once felt invested in their story/journey. I’m not sure whether it was because the characters weren’t as fleshed out as I liked or because their dialogue felt forced and monotonous. I think if the author worked a bit more on character development, it would have been made all the difference.

The book started out extremely slow. It isn’t until I got to the middle that I felt the story pick up and the plot put into motion. I love the whole lost princess and prophecy ideas but it played more as a background story to the main plot. Overall The Midnight Queen was a good book, but just one I didn’t personally connect with.

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