Friday Favorites, Part 2: The Midnight Queen by Sylvia Izzo Hunter

Friday Favorites is a meme that spotlights a favorite author, book, series, publisher, cover, blog, etc. Basically whatever bookish thing that I have loved, would recommend, and want to tell others about. You can see all of my Friday Favorites here. You're welcome to join in as well!

I usually have only one favorite for this meme, but today there are two because I didn't really want to wait to post my reviews and they're both favorites. You can check out my other favorite for today over here.

I saw some raving reviews for this book and it was one that I had wanted to read, but never got a review copy for. I saw it at the library and decided to pick it up and give it a try. I'm so glad that I did because I loved it! It was so my type of book and it's my second favorite pick for today.

The Midnight Queen (Noctis Magicae, #1)The Midnight Queen
(Noctis Magicae #1)
by Sylvia Izzo Hunter
YA Historical, Fantasy, Paranormal
Paperback417 Pages
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…


My Review

I feel like The Midnight Queen was one book under-promoted last year. For me, it was a hidden gem and perfect for my tastes. It had this wonderful historical setting and an almost Harry Potter feel to the story with an evil professor and a devious plot that the main character, Gray, was thrust into. It had a sweet and interesting romance between two unlikely allies, at least they seem unlikely at first. It had superb writing, witty banter, evil villains, intriguing magic, unlikely odds, friendship and family. There were high stakes and a handful of characters intent on trying to save the day against all odds. Really, what else could you ask for?

I just have such a love for historical settings. I loved how the storytelling was so immersed in the setting with the dialogue, descriptions, mannerisms, societal expectations, and fashion. It was all fabulous! The setting set up the story well and was so weaved throughout that I just really felt like I could picture and feel where the characters were.

I also really enjoyed the magical aspect of the story. I loved how the characters were inexperienced and didn't easily figure things out and weren't able to easily use magic how they wanted when they weren't trained to do so. They had to learn, practice, and struggle as they plodded through their journey. I also liked how Sophie's story and that of her mother's made sense to me. There was such a twist there, but it made things perfectly clear.

Then there were the characters... I loved Gray and Sophie, of course. I also loved Sophie's younger sister and the cook/guardian. I loved Gray's former professor and the role he played. I loved Gray's sister and her husband and how realistic their relationship was portrayed for this historical time period where marriages were sometimes more business arrangement than anything. I felt all the relationships were handled rather well.

I felt things moved in a way that made sense to me as the plot progressed. With the danger Gray and Sophie were faced with and the devious plot they uncovered, I thought the way they went about trying to prevent the danger from happening was realistic. They had limited resources. They had to use what connections they had and there was such a small chance that their plan would work. They also faced different challenges and had to figure out how to work through each of them, or at least choose the best recourse they could.

The plot moved at a steady pace. This story wasn't a page-turner, but I liked that it wasn't. It felt like the right pace and the intensity grew as the story came to a close. I also loved the romance and the important role it played in the story. It was sweet and sincere and I had to laugh a few times at Sophie's and, especially, Gray's reactions.

If you enjoy reading historical fiction where you feel immersed in the setting with some magic, romance, and characters who have the odds stacked against them, then I'd recommend The Midnight Queen. It was one of my favorite reads from 2014 and a book I highly recommend.

Content: Clean (There are a few behind-doors love scenes, but it's more that there was a couple who got married and it mentioned their first night together.)

Source: Library

I'm seriously excited about finding out what happens in the next book in this series, Lady of Magick! Take a look at this gorgeous cover:

About the Author

Author photo by Nicole HiltonSylvia 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.

Do you have a favorite to share or thoughts on my review?

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