Review: The Midnight Queen by Sylvia Izzo Hunter

September 15, 2014 4.5 stars, Book Review 26 ★★★★½

Review: The Midnight Queen by Sylvia Izzo HunterThe Midnight Queen by Sylvia Izzo Hunter
Series: Noctis Magicae #1
Published by Ace on September 2, 2014
Genres: Adult SFF, Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 432
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher

*This book was provided by the Publisher for review. No compensation was provided and all opinions are strictly my own.

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…


God, I love a good map! I turned the first page, and there it was, a MAP! Great start, Ms. Hunter! The cover is also extremely cool.

The Midnight Queen is the story of Sophie and Gray, privileged youth in an alternate history of England where magic is a fact.This one reads slowly, like you would expect of a Jane Austen Era novel. There are no frantic emails, car chases…where people can actually outrun dangerous situations. It is quite a change from the pace of novel I am used to and it was frankly absolutely refreshing. There is a love connection between the two, with propriety getting in the way of actual communication. It was lovely and touching.

The supporting cast of characters are interesting. Joanna is a quintessential little girl. Master Alcuin is a trustworthy professor. The nursemaid is a typical nursemaid… with a huge secret. Of all the characters, including the main characters, I liked Gray’s sister Jenny the best. She had depth, character and was well spoken and interesting. I would like to read her story from the beginning. While it is clear she isn’t unhappy in her situation, I would like to see if she moves towards a true joy.

There is a fairly big spoiler in this story, which I will not mention. I also felt it to be fairly unnecessary. It was an added complication without much payoff. For those of you who have read it, I bet you are with me. Not really needed for the story to be good, and waaay more work than it was worth.

Overall this is a great book especially if you appreciate historical fiction paced like a Jane Austen novel. This is simply a slower read, to be enjoyed in days rather than hours. I loved it.  It is a simple and lovely story and I certainly hope to read more in the same vein.


When not taking care of my two children, husband and mini doxy, rushing here and there on the go, I can always be found reading. Fantasy of course being my favorite genre, but not the only I'll read. Oh yes, and I throw bad books.

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26 Responses to “Review: The Midnight Queen by Sylvia Izzo Hunter”

  1. Kirsty-Marie

    I love maps in books, they’re beautiful. And I love reading about alternate worlds, always fun. And good supporting characters too? Yay, we all know how they can be cardboard cut-outs most of the time. Glad you loved it! 🙂
    Kirsty-Marie recently posted…Review: Heir of FireMy Profile

  2. Liv_TheAbsentHistorian

    I am not sure I would appreciate the Jane Austen pace since I rather tire of Jane Austen in all honesty. However I do like a good bit of historical fiction and this one certainly has my attention, so I think I have to give it a shot. Glad you enjoyed this one so much and found it so refreshing from your usual kind of reads.
    Liv_TheAbsentHistorian recently posted…The Forbidden QueenMy Profile

  3. Rhissanna

    Is it reminiscent of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell? I loved the faux-victorian pacing of that and have been looking for something similar for a while. You’re quite right, not being able to phone someone or jump into a car does change the element of danger!

    • Maggie Jones

      Blasphemy! All of it! 😉

      BY pacing, I just mean that the books moves slowly. Things that happen quickly (like love) can take most of the book. There are letters written, they write about sitting around doing nothing… They fill in the story in between action points. It’s a nice break from more contemporary styles.
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  4. Charlotte @ Thoughts and Pens

    Hiyah, Maggie. I just skimmed through your review because I still need to read this book. I am just shielding myself from any spoiler that I might come across. Anyway, I am so happy that you gave this one a 4.5 star rating. I was pretty worried because the overall Goodreads rating is only 3.58 which is quite scary since I only pick up books that have 3.8 ratings and above. But still, I really want to read this book and judge it personally. 😀
    Charlotte @ Thoughts and Pens recently posted…Top Ten Tuesday {6}: Authors I’ve Only Read One Book From & Need To Read MoreMy Profile

    • Maggie Jones

      I hate spoilers too! I always avoid writing them. I don’t even like to have sentences that block spoilers, because that’s no fun for the reader. I do my best to stick to info found on the back cover, and write about how I feel about characters and the writing style. Thanks for visiting!
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  5. Charlene @ Bookish Whimsy

    The cover of this book already drew me in, and the fact that I’m an Anglophile makes this a book I really want to read. It sounds really interesting too. I am glad to know this has a slower pace too so I’ll be prepared. It’s nice to slip into a book’s world and dwell on the characters sometimes.
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  6. Anya

    So agreed about the map! I actually checked it out whereas normally I just ignore the map because it is too hard to figure out what it says, haha. For some reason I’m having trouble thinking of what the big spoiler is >.> Any hints you can safely give? haha
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