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review 2015-08-27 18:38
The Girl at Midnight
The Girl at Midnight - Melissa Grey

On its own, without considering anything else, I enjoyed the plot and the little bit of mythology within the world.  BUT, I just can’t overlook the lack of originality that was peppered throughout the whole thing.  It has been said in so many reviews already, but seriously, this is too similar to Daughter of Smoke and Bone.  And when this did verge away from DoSaB it touched on The Grisha series.  It seemed like the author just mushed those two series together and came up with The Girl at Midnight.  If I hadn’t read both of those series before this I probably would have been more into this book.  Unfortunately for Melissa Grey, I did read both of those series before this and they were superior to this effort.  

 

The MC, Echo, was a little snarky and sarcastic, which I love to read.  It keeps novels fun and adds an relatable element to the character for me.  

 

That said, she drove me nuts on a number of occasions.  

 

First - - and I cannot emphasize this enough - - she just FORGOT about Rowan.  You know Rowan...the boy she was swooning over in the first few chapters.  The boy she has known all her life...and been “in love” with for a while.  Rowan...her boyfriend!  As soon as Caius was introduced it was as if Rowan didn’t even exist.  Some people have said there was a love triangle in this book but I would disagree.  I love triangle would require the MC to actually think about both partners.  This is no love triangle, this is Echo abandoning Rowan and not looking back.

 

Second - - Echo switched her allegiance way too quickly.  She has been raised by the Avicen her entire life to believe that the Drakharin are vicious, demented creatures.  She has been raised to hate and fear them.  Yet, one look at Caius and she is willing to ally with him and Dorian - not just to escape - but to find the firebird as well.  She could have returned to the Avicen, she didn’t.  She could have continued her search without what should have been her mortal enemies, she didn’t.  No, she took them to an Avicen safehouse and starts making googly eyes at Caius.  I don’t care that this fit nicely with the plot line, it was too easy.  There was no real attempt to provide Echo with doubts or to have her reconcile what she has been taught to believe with the reality of what she is seeing.  

 

Third - and I may be a little picky here - after all her hemming and hawing Rowan she literally throws herself at Caius.  She had a traumatic event, which Grey attempted to explore, but ended up just using as a plot device to further the romance that she needed to build between Echo and Caius.  This was an opportunity for Grey to really build Echo, to give her some development and growth, to address a serious issue (PTSD).  This could have been a moment for Grey to really show us her writing chops.  Instead, she makes Echo weak and needy.  I was really disappointed with this turn of events.

 

The world-building by Grey was lacking as well to me.  She barely touched on the mythology of the world, and only did so to bring the Firebird into things.  I wanted to know about the Drakharin and Avicen, their societal structures, power structures, customs and traditions.  We get none of that, nope, we get a pathetic so-called-romance between Echo and Caius that took up far too much of this book.


There was a gigantic area where this book excelled - and that was Jasper and Dorian.  I loved the inclusion of LGBT characters and the fact that they were central to the plot, frequently seen and explored as characters.  They weren’t just thrown in there to appease a demographic and forgotten.  They mattered, in some small way, to the overall plot.  Their romance, to me, was sweeter and more believable than that between Echo and Caius.  Kudos to Ms. Grey for taking the time to write these characters well.  This is getting 2 stars - one for Jasper, one for Dorian.    

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review 2014-01-10 06:18
Great World Building & Characters
The Sorcery Code - Anna Zaires,Dima Zales

I received this book for free from Author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

 

My Initial Reaction…
I think I expected something different when I started Sorcery Code and it took me a little bit to get fully committed to it. However, it really picked up by the second half, though, and I’m eagerly awaiting the next book.

 

The Characters…
The characters in Sorcery Code are the kind that you don’t instantly love or hate, but grow to feel very strongly about as you get to know them. Gala was by far the most interesting character. She is a product of the Spell Realm, created sort of by accident by Blaise, and a wonderful contradiction of maturity and innocence. Brand new to life and the physical realm, Gala is so innocent and unaware, but at the same time she learns and understands at such an incredible rate (of which I can’t help but be jealous) that she never seems truly child-like. Watching her grow and discover more about her world was fascinating and exciting at the same time. Probably because of who created her, she has a high capacity for empathy and caring for others, which was pretty great. However, I wasn’t a huge fan of how quickly she started having romantic feelings for Blaise – for someone so new to the Physical Realm it felt like a stretch and as her creator, it also felt kind of off for me… to me, he should be more like a father than a romantic interest. But it wasn’t a dominant part of Sorcery Code and certainly didn’t hurt the overall story.

 

Blaise was my second favorite character to read about. He’s an incredibly gifted magic practicer and marvelously eccentric. I don’t think it’s possible to not like him, considering that he’s so selfless and caring. I would have like to get to know him better actually – and to have spent a little less time with Augusta, his ex-fiance. Don’t get me wrong, Augusta is an important part of the story and she fills in important details about this world. She’s old nobility and, unlike Blaise, wants to keep the peasants ignorant because she’s afraid of change and losing her position. Although she’s probably the misunderstood character of the series, I don’t like her right now and frankly have no sympathy for her.

 

There was a host of other characters that filled in the plot and the world really well. Augusta’s new love interest – Barson – adds an interesting element to the story as he’s not a magic practicer, but a solider and is involved in some sort of sub-plot that has yet to be fully developed. The peasants we get to know are equally important to the plot and pretty lovable.

 

The Story…
The first part of Sorcery Code is a bit bogged down with the world development, which is very complex. Spells are not simple things in this world – Koldun – and laying that out took some time. Although it was a little rough to get going, I think this was nothing more than first book syndrome and would not let it keep me from reading the rest of the series. Things really picked up once I understood the world and where things were going and I anticipate future books will be non-stop fun and action.

 

The world-building certainly paid off, because as things progressed the action got really, truly fantastic. The magic inparticular was exciting because it was so complex; magic isn’t a simple fix in this world, but a skill to be wielded with care and potential risk. There’s also a great deal of physical action and Gala’s a load of surprises on both fronts! Mix that with the clashing ideas about how the world should be (such as Blaise’s and Augusta’s differing opinions about nobility and peasants), the danger of Gala’s discovery, and Gala’s own personal development and you’ve got one exciting finish line!

 

Concluding Sentiments…
Despite having a definite case of “first book syndrome” Sorcery Code is a wonderful start to the series, complete with a complex world and wonderful characters. Can’t wait for the next one!

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review 2014-01-07 00:00
The Sorcery Code: A Fantasy Novel of Magic, Romance, Danger, and Intrigue (Volume 1)
The Sorcery Code - Anna Zaires,Dima Zales Blaise wants to change things for the common people, to make magic more accessible to them and not just something the wealthy sorcerers use. When he attempts to create a magical object to make spell casting easier he inadvertently creates a beautiful woman – a naked woman to be exact.

When she was created Galina, known as Gala she knew nothing. No idea who she is, why she was in that room, who Blaise was – she’s innocent, curious and excited to learn new things. These two are setting out to change magic for the rest of the world, and not everyone is happy about it. Gala is in danger and Blaise will do anything to protect his creation.

This was a very different, but interesting read. Flipping between characters threw me off initially, but I really liked being able to see the perspectives each brought to the story. It was a unique way the author used each of them to elaborate and expand on the world he created.

Would I recommend this title? It’s a quick, unique and very different title that would appeal to a reader who is looking for something new and different to try. I liked how the story flowed from character to character, despite my initial worries. With the cliffhanger ending I’m curious how things end between everyone, so I’ll be looking for Dima’s next title when it comes out!
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