“Prologue: Spitalfields, east London, 1887
She was dying. He could feel her life slipping away between his fingers. He had tried to ignore the signs, tried to pretend it was just the night cold making her face so white, but now as they paused in the pool of gaslight he could see the grey circles under her eyes and the dark blood on her lips”
When Aprils father loses his high-flying journalist job in Edinburgh and takes a job on the Highgate “local-rag”, he uproots April and her mother and moves them to London. At such short notice there was only one school place available nearby and April starts mid-term at Ravenwood, a prestigious academy for gifted, financially or intellectually, students. April is niether so its quite intimidating but she finds Caro, a conspircy0nut who stands out from the crowd of beautiful, super-rich girls at Ravenwood.
Things at Ravenwood are mysterous but April refuses to believe Caro’s take on whats going on. Until a series of murders take place far too close for comfort.
By Midnight is one I have been putting off for months, literally months. I bought it early, really early, this year and it sat on my shelf until now… the reason? Its a vampire book… and I just don’t do vampire. I bought it not realising and then when I found out I put it off even though people rave about it! Its not really fair for me to distance myself from vampire books. I’ll be honest and say that its because of the huge influx of them since Twilight hit it off… But I’d heard great things and with the second in series due out this month I thought I may as well give it a go… and I’m glad I did!
The book is a brilliant tale of mystery, misplacement and loss. It follows April from the minute she gets into London and we see her settling into her new life, though not comfortably. The story was brilliant, the new school thing is really interesting to me, I dont know why but I love it when we see characters just thrust into new surroundings and we pick up on everything they do. It makes it all so much more interesting. I dont want to give away too much of the plot but I love how everything was slowly revealed, but not too slowly, and I was very impressed with the results towards the end of the book… I didn’t see one major thing coming and I thought I had the entire story sussed after about 200 pages (of 436) so I was glad when something happened that I didn’t expect, it actually boosted the book from “meh it was OK” to “yeah this is a damn good read”. I also like the way the book was split into parts, that isn’t done enough and it really makes sense with this book as Aprils life shifts dramatically with each part.
The characters were interesting… I liked April, she seemed very well put together and I loved that she was so down to earth but not at the same time. She was a great example of a 16 year old girl, especially after what happens part way through the book… at the end of part one. More than April I loved her dad and Caro, I’ve put them together because for me they were very alike. They were both conspiracy nuts and they both loved April and were there when she needed them, ish. They were April’s confidants but they also had enough depth that they were stand alone characters too. I can’t wait to find out what happens with Caro later in the series!
Aprils mother and her Grandfather annoyed me. I think this is mainly to do with the lack of trust in April and the fact that a lot of their history, and Aprils fathers actually, is untold in this first book. There is obviously more to them and that isn’t revealed in By Midnight so I feel like I cant trust them entirely. I want to know more before I gauge my decision of them.
Then we get to Gabriel. hmm… hes hot, hes kind, but hes not at the same time, because… shock horror… hes a vampire. I do get annoyed when they do the whole “I am one of them but Im different” thing but I guess with Gabriel it can be forgiven. I did like him and I feel for him, I really do… but seriously, he could have treated April better in the first place!
Mia James’ writing is what makes this book stand out for me. She captures the scary stuff about Highgate, the freaky stuff about Ravenwood and the absurdness of The Faces and the other “popular” people mentioned, both from Ravenwood and beyond, like the Osbournes. I honestly think that the writing is what really stuck out for me and if it wasn’t for how beautiful it is this would be a throwaway book, a read it once and chuck it, for me.
There were a few things I didn’t like about By Midnight, I don’t want to focus on them too much but the timeline seemed a bit screwed. April mentions at two separate points that she has only lived in London for two weeks… and as far as I can tell this was at least a few days, if not a week, apart! I also thought that the end of part one was more than a week or two from the beginning of the book and that was ten days before these bits at least… it didn’t make sense! Then there was the revealation of the twist towards the end… I liked it, but I didn’t think it was revealed as well as it could have been… it was a bit rushed and odd… but nevermind, it completely changed the book for me!
I would definitely recommend By Midnight to someone who loves the paranormal, and especially vampire, genre. I did really enjoy it and I will be carrying on with the series but thats becuase I did love the writing and the layers of the story… and I need to know what happens to April and Gabriel, and Caro! I need my answers!!
By Midnight was released in February 2011 by Gollancz Books, but has recently been republished by Indigo to co-inside with the release of Darkness Falls, the second in the Ravenwood series. My copy was purchased from my local Waterstones.