Series: Noctis Magicae #1
Published by Ace on September 2, 2014
Genres: Adult SFF, Fantasy, Romance
*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.