Author: Melissa GreySeries: Girl at Midnight, #2
Released: July 12th 2016
Length: 368 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: The Book Depository
Everything in Echo's life changed in a blinding flash when she learned the startling truth: she is the firebird, the creature of light that is said to bring peace.The firebird has come into the world, but it has not come alone. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction, and Echo can feel a great and terrible darkness rising in the distance. Cosmic forces threaten to tear the world apart.Echo has already lost her home, her family, and her boyfriend. Now, as the firebird, her path is filled with even greater dangers than the ones she's already overcome.She knows the Dragon Prince will not fall without a fight.Echo must decide: can she wield the power of her true nature--or will it prove too strong for her, and burn what's left of her world to the ground?Welcome to the shadow hour.
After about 15 months and two publishing delays, the second book in Melissa Gray’s The Girl at Midnight trilogy is finally here. The expectations were high for those of us who liked the first book, but Gray justifies the long wait and the hype that follows the series. When the first book came out, many reviewers complained about the similarities between The Girl at Midnight and Daughter of Smoke and Bone. They continue in those elements that Gray borrowed, but otherwise the story takes a different direction entirely.
The pacing is a little bit slower than in the previous book, but the end result is no less thrilling. The Shadow Hour is a tangle of action and emotion, discoveries and desperate moves. The book somehow avoids the middle book syndrome, even though it’s less eventful than its predecessor. There is plenty to keep us occupied and afraid for our characters, and Gray once again demonstrates her ability to keep the narrative voices separate, despite there being many, and in fairly brief chapters.
Plotwise, The Shadow Hour is a fantastic book, rich and exciting, full of unexpected twists and complicated betrayals. Even in its quiet moments it keeps the reader engaged and on the edge. There are so many things going on at once, so much resentment brewing that a single wrong step could turn into outright wars. The truce between the Avicen and Caius is tenuous at best, with only Echo to keep it together. With all of them confined to a single place, the tension is unrelenting and palpable.
What makes this book weaker, in my eyes, is the never-ending number of love triangles. Not only do the old ones keep making us miserable, but there are new ones to ruin what little peace was achieved. At one point, everyone seems to be at least a little bit in love with everyone else, and there is hurt and bitterness whichever way you turn. Jasper and Dorian seem to be the most popular couple in the trilogy, but even they face new challenges and yet another person added to the mix. As if Dorian’s unrequited love for Caius and his hatred for all Avicen weren’t challenging enough.
On the other side, non-romantic relationships give strength to this story, making it a deep and challenging well of emotions. Most, but not all of them, begin with Echo and her complicated past and present. The friendship between Ivy and her felt genuine from the start and the love that exists there is quite obvious. My favorite, though, is Echo’s view of Ala – as a mother, a teacher, a protector, and a tether to the world of Avicen. Aside from that, the conflict between Caius and his treacherous twin sister was done exceedingly well. His emotions towards her, ranging from love to disappointment to understanding to betrayal, and especially during their confrontations, made it almost difficult to breathe. Poor Caius was abandoned by all except Dorian, but nothing was as painful as the knife his sister shoved in his back.
The ending can’t really be called a cliffhanger, but Echo and her friends are in a very difficult place. It will be challenging to wait a whole year or more for some kind of resolution, but at this point, I have no doubt that Melissa Gray will make it worth our while.
A copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher for review purposes. No considerations, monetary or otherwise, have influenced the opinions expressed in this review.