BEA'S BOOK NOOK "I can't imagine a man really enjoying a book and reading it only once." C. S. Lewis “If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.” ― Oscar Wilde

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Jax & Bea Review The Midnight Queen by Sylvia Izzo Hunter

Publisher: Ace
Series: Noctis Magicae #1
Format Read: Print
Source: the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Release Date: September 2, 2014
Buying Links: Amazon* | Book Depository* | OmniLit* | Barnes & Noble |
* affiliate links; the blog receives a small commission from purchases made through these links.

Blurb 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…

Jax's Thoughts:

Something about this book made me think of Discworld meets Pride and Prejudice. While I adore Discworld, I'm not a big Austen fan, so I suppose it would make sense that I have mixed feelings about "The Midnight Queen". There were some sweetly quirky characters, very archetypal for wizards and students of magic, and a host of women who could have been plucked from the pages of Victorian novels. It's an odd mix, but not nearly as odd as having werewolves added to Little Women. (Amusing, but surreal.) I digress...

There's a sense of superficiality to the story. Every tale is made up of archetypes and clich├ęs, what lets it shine is the unique take an author uses to make us think a little. I didn't find those little tweaks here to rejuvenate old plot lines. Characters held fairly predictable roles and did their jobs accordingly.

I did enjoy this book. It wasn't a 'must stay up and finish' read, but it also wasn't one that I put down and forgot. I'll even keep an eye out for the rest of the series, just to see where they end up. There are a few minor characters whose stories I'd like to hear, as well. I'm not sure where it would be shelved in a bookstore or library, but I think it best placed in the Young Adult category, even if for the upper ages. The writing would not be too challenging, nor the content beyond what's appropriate.

Bea's Thoughts:

As I read the first few pages, I thought it had a Harry Potter feel to it - magic school, check; boy more or less ignored by living family, check; names that border on the absurd, check. It's full of tropes and cliches. And as Jax said, it has an Austen feel to it, which didn't really work for me nor did the fake-European setting. Use the real world and tweak it or create a brand new world but this was a mish-mash and the non-magical world building was often confusing. It's mish-mash of poorly done alternate history, fantasy, romance, political thriller, and young adult.

It is an interesting world, despite it's flaws, and an interesting magic system that has potential but the writing style didn't really work for me. It was a pseudo-historical way of speaking and style of writing and I mainly found it irritating. Our hero and heroine both belonged to standard tropes concerning family and abilities; they were also the best developed of the characters. The secondary characters were interesting but could have been fleshed out more. Parts of the story were predictable and it has loose ends which will be presumably be dealt with in the next book or following books.

Like Jax, I'll keep my eyes out for the next book in the series, but I won't be rushing to get it.  

1 comment:

  1. Well, I'll wait for your review of book #2 to make up my mind about this series. Great 4 handed review (or rather, 2 handed, since you don't use 2 hands to write !)


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