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Friday, September 5, 2014

Book Review: The Midnight Queen by Sylvia Izzo Hunter + giveaway

The Midnight Queen
by Sylvia Izzo Hunter

Paperback, 432 pages
Published September 2nd 2014
by Ace Trade
In the hallowed halls of Oxford’s Merlin College, the most talented—and highest born—sons of the Kingdom of Britain are taught the intricacies of magickal theory. But what dazzles can also destroy, as Gray Marshall is about to discover…

Gray’s deep talent for magick has won him a place at Merlin College. But when he accompanies four fellow students on a mysterious midnight errand that ends in disaster and death, he is sent away in disgrace—and without a trace of his power. He must spend the summer under the watchful eye of his domineering professor, Appius Callender, working in the gardens of Callender’s country estate and hoping to recover his abilities. And it is there, toiling away on a summer afternoon, that he meets the professor’s daughter.

Even though she has no talent of her own, Sophie Callender longs to be educated in the lore of magick. Her father has kept her isolated at the estate and forbidden her interest; everyone knows that teaching arcane magickal theory to women is the height of impropriety. But against her father’s wishes, Sophie has studied his ancient volumes on the subject. And in the tall, stammering, yet oddly charming Gray, she finally finds someone who encourages her interest and awakens new ideas and feelings.

Sophie and Gray’s meeting touches off a series of events that begins to unravel secrets about each of them. And after the king’s closest advisor pays the professor a closed-door visit, they begin to wonder if what Gray witnessed in Oxford might be even more sinister than it seemed. They are determined to find out, no matter the cost.

The Midnight Queen is Sylvia Izzo Hunter’s debut novel. It is to be the first in A Noctis Magicae Novel series. However, it can definitely be read as a stand-alone and is quite complete all by itself.

The story revolves around Gray Marshall. Gray is a student of the Oxford’s Merlin College who is depicted as a stuttering young man with a complete lack of confidence. He finds himself in some trouble after he allows some fellow students to talk him into a midnight errand that goes terribly wrong. As punishment for his actions, his professor, Appius Callender, requires Gray to spend the summer at his country estate working his gardens.

At the estate, Gray meets Sophie Callender, the professor’s daughter. Sophie is immediately drawn to Gray because of her interest in magic. She seeks him out daily, and a friendship is born. As the summer progresses, a series of events leads these two unlikely friends to become allies in a search for the truth of what really happened that night back at Merlin College.

The Midnight Queen is an interesting story, with lots of twists and turns. Although, I have to admit that the story blurb did not draw me in. In truth, I almost skipped the book entirely because of it. As it was, I wasn’t unhappy that I decided to give it a read.

The story has the feel of a historical novel with a touch of paranormal. You will get a bit of romance but not enough to be categorized that way. My favorite part of the story, and the part that I feel the author did best, was the development of the two main characters. Gray, who starts out lacking confidence and seems very much a boy, will become a more confident young man and Sophie will discover many truths about herself and her past. I enjoyed watching the growth of both of these characters and found them extremely likeable.

Although I enjoyed the story, the book did start to lag towards the middle. It seemed to take an awful long time to get where it was going, and I found myself frustrated. In addition, I wondered if some of the things that happened were necessary at all. In the end, the book did pick up and the author wraps everything up for us nicely. Not a bad book overall, but not sure that it was really my cup of tea.

3.75 Sheep with Character

Lisa A.

About the Author:
Sylvia Izzo Hunter was born in Calgary, Alberta, back in the days before Star Wars, and started making up stories at approximately the time she learned to talk. A couple of decades ago she moved to Toronto, Ontario, where she now lives with her husband and daughter and their slightly out-of-control collections of books, comics, and DVDs. She studied English and French literature (with a particular focus on medieval and Renaissance poetry and drama) at York University; she has since discovered that her mom was right: in order to be a functioning grown-up, you really do need to know how to do math.

Over the course of her working life Sylvia has been a slinger of tacos, a filer of patient charts and answerer of phones, a freelance looker-up of unconsidered trifles, an Orff-singing stage monk, and an exam tutor, but has mostly worked in not-for-profit scholarly publishing, where she started out making lots of photocopies and now gets to make XML and EPUB files (which is more fun). She also sings in two choirs (including the Orpheus Choir of Toronto), reads as much as possible, knits (mostly hats), and engages in experimental baking.

Sylvia’s favourite Doctor is Tom Baker, her favourite pasta shape is rotini, and her favourite Beethoven symphony is the Seventh.

a print copy of The Midnight Queen
US only

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  1. Oooh, I didn't realize that Hunter is CANADIAN—Cool! I now regret not requesting this book when it was up for grabs on First to Read. I can deal with a slow middle, as long as there's good character development, and I do love me some twists! Wonderful review, Sharon.

  2. Thanks, but the wonderful LisaA did the review. She is a big urban fantasy reader like me. Our tastes run down the same line :)

  3. oooooh.. this looks intriguing! Thanks for the fun review!

  4. This sounds like a sweet & whimsical read. I love hearing about new books & authors. I really want to see how Gray's character develops and what the storyline is going to have for Gray & Sophia in the up coming books. Thx for the heads up about this book.