Hello everybody! Today, I have another review post to share with you, themed around night time and some things I associate with it, and I’m particularly proud of my song lyric pun for this one. Onto the post!
Last Night by Mhairi McFarlane
I actually devoured this in one DELICIOUS sitting back in April, so when I came up with this post I just had to include it so I can tell you all again how much I love Mhairi McFarlane! Her 7th book is the story of Evie, whose life is changed forever when one of her best friends dies, and she discovers that although they were incredibly close, that her friend had been keeping some secrets. And of course, this is Mhairi McFarlane, so there’s also a romance plotline, and I think it would be a bit spoilery to tell you who she ends up with, but I will say that I absolutely loved him and he might be in my top 3 Mhairi heroes of all time list, even though Jamie from If I Never Met You will probably always be top of the list. Evie is also absolutely wonderful; I loved her cynicism and her kindness, and so many parts of this absolutely broke me because her grief was just so well written. Something else I really love about Mhairi’s books is that her friendship groups are always so strong and special that I desperately want to be part of all of them. The plot of this is absolutely gripping, and although it’s probably the darkest book by Mhairi I’ve read, it’s also incredibly funny and uplifting, and I just had a bloody amazing reading experience with it, to the point where I wish I could read it for the first time again. It’s absolutely one of mu favourite adult books of 2021 so far!
Nightfall in New York by Katherine Woodfine and illustrated by Karl James Mountford (recieved from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)
I’ve been reading about Sophie and Lil’s adventures since I was 13, from the year the Sinclair’s series was first released, and over the years and as the new Taylor and Rose spinoff series began, I’ve grown to love them more and more. This final installment of this quartet sees the whole Taylor and Rose team travelling to New York to negotiate with the dangerous Fraternitas Draconum society, as both sides have something the other desperately wants. They travel on a ship inspired by the Titanic, and all the references and tributes to the real history of the ship were one of my favourite parts of the book. It was also wonderful to learn more about the history of New York in this era once the team arrived there. On a similar note, I’m absolutely in awe of the way Katherine Woodfine writes settings; her writing really made me feel like I was on a luxury ship or investigating in Coney Island or visiting an incredible hotel. I love each and every member of the agency so much, but especially Sophie and Lil, and I feel like I’ve basically grown up with them so it feels really weird that this might be the last time I read about them. I loved how every single one of them had a part to play in this final adventure, especially Tilly, Billy and Mei’s contributions, and I got rather tearful with all the lovely references and nods to the others books in both quartets. I honestly can’t believe that this story is coming to an end, but I love Katherine’s writing and I’m very excited to see what she brings out next.
The Midnight Howl by Laura Trinder and Benjamin Read
I can’t believe it’s been nearly 3 years since I read this first installment of this series, because I can still remember it really well, but I’ve been saving this (which is the second book of the Midnight Hour trilogy) for this post for a while now, and I was very excited indeed to finally pick it up. It continues the story of Emily, and it follows her venturing back into the world of the Midnight Hour to try and find out why magic is leaking out of it, amidst dealing with her slightly shady Pooka relatives, parents who are definitely not keen on her risking her life to save the world (again), and getting a grip on her malfunctioning shape shifting powers. Emily is a fantastic main character and I loved her even more this time round. Her gob made me laugh so much, I love her relationship with her lovely pet hedgehog (who may or may not be magical), and she’s so plucky and determined even when things go wrong. Her Pooka abilities are another element of both her and the book that I love, and I was once again enchanted by the worldbuilding of the Midnight Hour. The Nocturne remained a terrifying villain, I still love the Library and Tarkus, Emily’s mum was just hilarious and it was so cool to get to meet Art in this installment too. The mystery element of the plot was really exciting and fun, and I’m very much looking forward to reading the next one. I definitely won’t take me anywhere as long to pick up book 3 because I was very kindly sent a copy by the publisher and I’m so excited to get to it after the coda of this.
The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
I resolved to read some of Matt Haig’s fiction after Reasons to Stay Alive being a shining light for me last year, and this really didn’t disappoint me in terms of what I was expecting. It’s the story of a woman named Nora Seed, who tries to take her own life, being sent to the Midnight Library, which is a place in between life and death where you can experience other lives you may have had if you’d made different choices. I love this concept when it’s done well, and this was such a great example, because all the lives Nora could’ve had were so different but equally interesting, although I do have to admit my favourite was the one that featured Ash, Molly and Plato. The way it tackles suicide and mental health is so poignant and realistic. I also loved the message that what you do matters, and how you do it matters, and who you do it with matters (I totally stole some of that from Mouth McFadden!!). The ending is so beautiful, without saying too much and spoiling it completely, and if you enjoyed It’s a Wonderful Life, I reckon you’ll love this.
The Book of Stolen Dreams by David Farr (recieved from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)
This is accomplished screenwriter David Farr’s debut MG novel, and I had such a magical time getting swept away in this story. It follows Rachel and Robert Klein, who have to go on a perilous journey to another land to protect the Book of Stolen Dreams, which their father stole, from the evil dictator Charles Malstain. The writing style really reminded me of loving Pseudonymous Bosch as kid, and I loved the humour that added as some of this is definitely pretty dark for middle grade. I also absolutely loved both main characters; Rachel was so kind and clever, and I loved how Robert’s journey went too. The side characters are also fantastic; I found Josef, the Glimpfs, the KRF and Malstain and his cronies such fully developed, interesting people, and the Meyer family were all wonderful, as was Solomon Rose. I seriously couldn’t put this down towards the end as I was so hooked, and I definitely think it reflects in the text that David Farr has previously written for TV and film, because this would be an absolute delight as a film, so I very much hope to see it in the cinemas someday. The ending of the book implied there’s going to be at least one more book set in this world, and I for one, can’t wait to pick it up.
Secrets of the Stars by Maria Kuzniar and illustrated by Karl James Mountford
I really enjoyed Maria’s debut the Ship of Shadows last year, so I was very excited to pick this sequel up, and it didn’t disappoint. It sees Aleja and the crew of the magical Ship of Shadows go in search of the second map piece, the first of which they found in book one. Aleja is a wonderful character for lots of reasons, but my two favourite things about her are how much she cares about the other girls and women on the ship, and her love of languages, which really appeals to me because I too am an absolute languages geek and I just adore seeing characters who love them too. Frances and Claws were other definite highlights in terms of characters, as was Malika for being a total badass, but really I just love all of the pirates who are part of the crew, and seeing them mourn someone close to them was definitely a tearjerker moment for me! The descriptions of the setting were all so vivid, and I really loved learning a bit more about the ship too, especially the shadow magic of it. Based on the ending, I’m assuming there will be another Ship of Shadows adventure, and I for one can’t wait to set sail with Aleja and her crew again.
Feast of the Evernight by Ross Mackenzie
I really enjoyed the first installment of this series in early 2020, before COVID changed the world entirely and I’m a huge fan of Ross Mackenzie’s generally, so I was very excited to pick this up and it really didn’t disappoint. The world this takes place in is so unusual and interesting, and in this installment we follow Lara and Joe venturing to a different part of it, to investigate a string of sinister magical killings, which their friend Double Eight is believed to be the perpetrator of, amidst their world changing after the way that book one ended. It’s really hard to say much more than that about the plot as it would give away a lot of the first book, but I have lots of other things I’m excited to rave about! Lara is such a wonderful character and it was great to see her learning more about herself and her power, and her loyalty to Double Eight was so heart wrenching. I also loved Joe’s role in this and his sort of search for vengeance that he has going on, I found Ivy fascinating, and Ginny and Rob were such fantastic side characters. Something else I love about this series is how deliciously dark it is. It’s definitely an upper middle grade book for this reason, but if you like your middle grade with a bit of an edge, this is something you have to pick up! I’ve no idea what Ross is planning to write next, but I already know that I’ll be buying it as soon as I can.
Maggie Blue and the Dark World by Anna Goodall
I found this while I was procrastinating by browsing online (I think maybe on Goodreads) when I was supposed to be doing stuff for uni, and promptly bought it because I loved the sound of it. It follows a girl named Maggie Blue, who lives a lonely life with her eccentric aunt Esme, with the only people who talk to her being Ida (who bullies her at school) and Hoagy (a stray cat who just happens to be able to talk), until Ida goes missing and Maggie must follow her into the dark world in order to save her. Maggie is an absolute sweetheart of a character, and I can’t tell you how sorry I felt for her, because she was wonderful and didn’t deserve to feel like no one liked her. Hoagy is an absolute legend, and I was also very attached to Frank. The villains are seriously menacing, and I was absolutely hooked throughout as I just had to know how things were going to end, although the ending was a bit of a cliffhanger so I didn’t really find out anyway! I have so many questions still about Maggie and the Dark World, and lots of other things too, so I was very pleased to see that there’s going to be another book in the series!
The Midnight Thief by Sylvia Bishop and illustrated by Flavia Sorrentino (recieved from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)
I’ve really enjoyed both books I’ve read by Sylvia Bishop so far, and this one was another absolute joy of a story. It follows Freya, who is at a rather unpleasant boarding school, and what happens when the ancient dragon statuettes that her father has dedicated most of his life to finding are stolen in the middle of the night, and she is deemed the prime suspect. I loved Freya so, so much. I think she’s basically everyone who read boarding school books growing up and thinks they’d be cool, but is let down by the reality, and some of the teachers in her school made me so angry. Apart from Henny, who is an angel and must be protected at all costs. The twins, Daniel and Esmie brought me absolute joy as well, especially Esmie! And Freya’s gripes with Daniel really made me laugh as well! I loved the way the mystery was slowly unravelled as well, and although I guessed part of the solution, I definitely didn’t put everything together. The little interludes talking about the wildlife in the grounds were so quirky and fun, and just made me love this eccentric little book even more.
Mystery of the Night Watchers by A.M Howell
AM Howell’s first two books have made her a highlight of my bookish calendar, and her latest release was an absolute treat. It’s about a girl named Nancy, whose mum suddenly whisks her and her sister away to their estranged grandfather’s house, where they are expected to stay inside and keep silent at all times. Meanwhile, Halley’s comet is about to be able to be viewed, as this is set in 1910, and I loved learning more about this time in history and learning a bit about how people reacted to the comet as it’s not something I knew very much about prior to picking this up. Something else I really enjoyed about this was the sort of gothic feel it had, and the eerie, menacing atmosphere that AM Howell created, which kept me absolutely hooked and turning the pages long after I should be asleep. In terms of characters, I loved Nancy and how compassionate she was, her little sister Violet’s energy and happiness, and I found her mother and grandfather such interesting characters. If, like me, you absolutely love Emma Carroll’s books, AM Howell is a must read for you.
Thank you so much for reading! Which books with night-themed words in the title would you recommend? Have you read any of the ones I’ve included in this post? I’d love to hear in the comments!