Title: The Midnight Queen
Author: Sylvia Izzo Hunter
Publication Date: September 2, 2014
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Find It: Goodreads, Amazon, B&N, Book Depository
Source: ARC from publisher
Rating: 2 – you are getting very sleepy
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.
Gray is a promising student at Merlin College, studying the ancient art of magick, when one night changes his fate. When a midnight errands ends up with one of his classmates dead and Gray shouldering the blame, Gray is sent to spend the Long Vacation at the home of Professor Callender. There is no love lost between the two but Callender’s home is the safest place for Gray while he tries to find out what really happened that night and clear his name. The upside to his mandatory stay is that the Professor has a smart, inquisitive daughter who is intrigued by Gray. Sophie Callender and Gray become fast friends, though they must hide it. Sophie’s father has some antiquated ideas about women studying magick, so she must hide her association with Gray. However, as the two become closer they discover a sinister plot that they must stop. Along the way they discover secrets about their own pasts that make their mission even more dangerous.
This is another book that I had high hopes for but that, unfortunately, fell below my expectations. The world building was unique and I enjoyed the historical twist on this magical world. However, I found that the pacing was really slow and rambling. There wasn’t enough conflict to keep the story moving and I had a very hard time staying interested in it.
The language and writing style was definitely different and stylized and fit with the historical period for the most part, but I found it to be distracting at times. My favorite character was Joanna, Sophie’s younger sister. She isn’t afraid to speak her mind and often says what everyone else is thinking.
I found it refreshing that Gray and Sophie’s relationship started off as a real friendship and didn’t jump straight into romance. They had a real likeness of mind and could themselves around each other.
While there were aspects of this book that I did like, it was simply too slow for me I struggled to finish it. If you like long, rambling stories filled with detailed descriptions and fantastic settings, I think you might enjoy this book. The magical world was very unique and the characters were very likable. I just needed more action to capture my attention and move the story along. I don’t think I will be continuing with this series though I would read another book by Hunter.
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my review or opinion of the book.