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.