Published April 28th 2015 by Delacorte Press
Beneath the streets of New York City live the Avicen, an ancient race of people with feathers for hair and magic running through their veins. Age-old enchantments keep them hidden from humans. All but one. Echo is a runaway pickpocket who survives by selling stolen treasures on the black market, and the Avicen are the only family she’s ever known.
Echo is clever and daring, and at times she can be brash, but above all else she’s fiercely loyal. So when a centuries-old war crests on the borders of her home, she decides it’s time to act.
Legend has it that there is a way to end the conflict once and for all: find the Firebird, a mythical entity believed to possess power the likes of which the world has never seen. It will be no easy task, though if life as a thief has taught Echo anything, it’s how to hunt down what she wants…and how to take it.
But some jobs aren’t as straightforward as they seem. And this one might just set the world on fire.
Debut author Melissa Grey introduces us to Echo, a teenaged pickpocket who has spent years abiding by one rule: don't get caught. Echo's also a rare bird who intermixes with the ancient race of the Avicen; she's the sole human amongst an ancient race that still has magic in their veins.
When Echo is sent to use her skills to go on a hunt for the Firebird, a magical entity that can possibly help stop an ancient conflict between the Avicen and the Drakharin, she begins to learn that life may not just be a series of jumps between cities and jobs. There's far more out there than imagined.
From page one, Grey effortlessly intermixes the ancient magic and traditions of the Avicen, with the the frenetic energy of the modern world. She does an especially notable job of showing how the magic of the Avicen straddles that fine line of helping Echo survive and thrive in both worlds, but also conversly makes her feel nomadic and very, very mortal.
Consequently, when Echo is sent to find the Firebird, it's evident that this is the point when she begins to feel a specific goal and direction for her life. Though the overall purpose for Echo's work is essentially an adventure quest, Grey also has readers subtly question how Echo's specific goal can also help make her see that she isn't someone who just jumps from adventure to adventure anymore. She's playing a role in something far greater than herself, and with far greater ramifications.
With additional secondary characters, intricate world-building and brilliant writing, The Girl at Midnight is the fantastic start of what is sure to be an amazinng odyssey. Grey is a voice and a talent to be watched, and I'm confident that readers will be dying to figure out what happens next.
Echo's journey to find the Firebird and herself, is not only intriguing, but also reflective. She's a rare entity amongst YA books; Echo's both a character that readers admire and look up, but also feel like they can befriend. It's a fine balancing act that shows Grey really understands the heart and soul of the teenaged experience, even when it comes with a few extra powers and an ancient war.
I highly, highly recommend this book for all fans of urban fantasy, but also for readers who are seeking well-rounded heroines in equally well-built worlds.
About the author:
Melissa Grey was born and raised in New York City. She wrote her first short story at the age of twelve and hasn’t stopped writing since. After earning a degree in fine arts at Yale University, she traveled the world, then returned to New York City where she currently works as a freelance journalist. To learn more about Melissa, visit melissa-grey.com and follow @meligrey on Twitter.