A Magical Deception + Giveaway!

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20821047I don’t know about you, but I do a LOT of reading in coffee houses. I do this with the intention of being less distracted. This might not makes sense to you, but…if I’m at home I can find roughly a million other things to do. When I’m curled up on a couch, headphones on and not in the vicinity of my washer and dryer, I accomplish more. All I worry about there is how full my coffee cup is and whether or not my facial expressions are giving away my thoughts on the book in my hands. Every once in a while however, my need to people watch gets the best of me, and though I keep my earbuds in, I turn off my ambiant rainforest soundtrack and just listen. Nine times out of ten, I gain nothing from my uncontrollable eavesdropping, but every once in a while I strike gold.

Two days ago (while mimicking an anti-social emo chick at my local java joint) I overheard a conversation between two (rather pretentious looking) 40-something year old women. See, there was a man in the corner reading a copy of Kevin J. Anderson’s newly released “Slim Underbelly” (which for the record is currently on my TBR) and for the life of them they just couldn’t understand why. I’ll spare you ALL of the details, but let’s just say that the words “crap” “waste of time” and “fictional drivel” came up more than once.  At first, (I’ll admit) I was a little irritated with these woman. How dare they think their choices in literature were “so much better” than the man in the corner. How dare they chastise an entire genre because they just “don’t get it.” But…after a few minutes (of self-reprobation because I was basically doing the same thing to them.) I decided I felt more sorry for them than angry, and this is why…

The man in the corner…he had a smile on his face. He wasn’t concerned with what people were saying about him OR his book…or the fact that he laughed out loud more than once. He was in love with the book in his hands.

 Funny thing…I realized (as I gathered my things to leave that day) that this man (whom I knew NOTHING about) managed to silently sum up how I feel about fantasy novels. Simply put, they make me happy. When I’m reading them I don’t care what is happening around me. I don’t care about the chatty women in the corner poking fun at me, or the fact that I may have just gasped out loud in public. I am way to lost inside the author’s imagination to give credence to the outside world. 

What does this have to do with Hunter’s “The Midnight Queen?” 

Well duh…it’s a fantasy novel.

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…

Michael Scott (author of “The Warlock”) once said: “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.” 

I don’t think fantasy could be summed up any better than this. Fantasy IS imagination, and if you are stilted by unrealistic predicaments…it’s not going to be the genre for you. However, if you love magic, deception, and the journeys that come along with self discovery, I think you have found your home. 

As for “The Midnight Queen” it’s by no means the best fantasy novel I have ever read (I’m sure you already gathered that by my star rating) but it IS a good place to start. Like most books in it’s genre it is bursting at the seems with magic. As a matter of fact, it is the running theme throughout the entire novel. Magic is the reason Gray find’s himself in a shaddy situation. Magic is the reason a princess is missing. Magic is (in the end) what saves them all. But though it is the “theme” of the novel, it’s not the heart of it. There are many reason’s for the “journey” in this book, but the most important is to save a life. Well…lives. (Plural.) Caught in an ugly web of deceit Gray (and his rag tag group of family, friends, and former teachers) must clear his name and save a King. The journey to get there, understand their powers, and their feelings for each-other are what keep the book moving forward. The rest is just…stuff. (I’m going to assume this is due to it’s slow start.)

Slow start?

Yes.

Fantasy novels require a lot of set-up, and this one was no different. However (geez, I feel like I’ve used that word seventy times already) the world building between the pages of “The Midnight Queen” were a little sloppier than I would have preferred. Instead of building suspense (something is being stolen, people are being killed, one boy turns into an owl and flies away) it just built irritation. It felt as though details were left out. That the things that SHOULD have been expanded upon were not and the things that WERE were totally unnecessary. In short, it felt muddy. And it continued to feel this way until the permanent appearance of Sophie. Once she entered the picture, plot lines seems to find their foothold and internal dialogue became (genuinely) much more interesting. Sophie’s entrance into the story also offered a different perspective. (Which was helpful.) 

As for the characters as a whole…I didn’t love them, and I didn’t hate them. There were ALL interesting in their own right, but I didn’t feel connected to any one character WHICH might attribute to the lower character score. I want to feel emotionally connected to the characters inside books. No…I NEED to feel emotionally connected. Especially when it comes to books that incorporate long journeys (as this one did.) If I can’t connect, the book will only (at the very most) be enjoyable not SPECTACULAR.

So here is what it ultimately comes down to.

This book is a great “starter” for fledging fantasy fans. It’s got mystery, magic, deception and romance…all the things that make this genre so brilliant. It is an enjoyable book. A little long, and a little “draggy” in the middle, but enjoyable all the same. And as it stands right now, I may or may not pick up the next novel in this series. Take that for what you will. 

Happy Reading my fellow Kindle-ites and remember:  “All the works of man have their origin in creative fantasy. What right have we then to depreciate imagination.” – Carl Jung

 
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Rating Report
Plot
Characters
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Overall: 3.4

 

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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.

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About Misty

Your friendly neighborhood narcissist. I'm sarcastic, cynical and a bit cranky. I own a soap box so big that sometimes I have difficulty stepping down off of it, and I'm about 94% certain I have multiple personalities. I don't sleep enough, and I read more than any person should ever consider normal. I have anger management issues, especially when I'm stuck in traffic and I have an unhealthy obsession with my Kindle. I am a vampire lovin', zombie obsessed, book-in-hand, iPod freak. You either love me or hate me. You be the judge.

7 thoughts on “A Magical Deception + Giveaway!

  1. I enjoy fantasy novels very much. I think I have two favorite series The Sword of Truth by Terry Goodkind and Fitz and The Fool series by Robin Hobb. Both are definitely worth reading. Thank you for sharing with us and for the treat of a giveaway opportunity.

  2. I loved this post, it sums up exactly how I feel when reading. I get so absorbed and love that feeling, so I don’t care if what I’m reading isn’t someone else’s idea of ‘good’ …
    The book has also gone onto my ‘to-read’ pile
    Kirsty x

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