I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Midnight Girls by Alicia Jasinska
Published by Sourcebooks Fire on December 28, 2021
Genres: YA Fantasy
Source: the publisher
Buy on Amazon, Buy on Barnes & Noble
The Wicked Deep meets House of Salt and Sorrows in this new standalone YA fantasy set in a snow-cloaked kingdom where witches are burned, and two enchantresses secretly compete for the heart of a prince, only to discover that they might be falling for each other.
It’s Karnawał season in the snow-cloaked Kingdom of Lechija, and from now until midnight when the church bells ring an end to Devil’s Tuesday time will be marked with wintry balls and glittery disguises, cavalcades of nightly torch-lit “kuligi” sleigh-parties.
Unbeknownst to the oblivious merrymakers, two monsters join the fun, descending upon the royal city of Warszów in the guise of two innocent girls. Newfound friends and polar opposites, Zosia and Marynka seem destined to have a friendship that’s stronger even than magic. But that’s put to the test when they realize they both have their sights set on Lechija’s pure-hearted prince. A pure heart contains immeasurable power and Marynka plans to bring the prince’s back to her grandmother in order to prove herself. While Zosia is determined to take his heart and its power for her own.
When neither will sacrifice their ambitions for the other, the festivities spiral into a wild contest with both girls vying to keep the hapless prince out of the other’s wicked grasp. But this isn’t some remote forest village, where a hint of stray magic might go unnoticed, Warszów is the icy capital of a kingdom that enjoys watching monsters burn, and if Zosia and Marynka’s innocent disguises continue to slip, their escalating rivalry might cost them not just the love they might have for each other, but both their lives.
I’d read the first book by this author, The Dark Tide, and while it didn’t blow me away, it was good enough that I was eager to read this second book of hers. And wow, this one really did blow me away! I could barely put it down whenever I had to go to sleep, back to work after a lunch break, etc. I really loved the twists and turns of the story, and I love how as we got to the end, I could not for the life of me figure out how in the world they were going to be able to save themselves from the mess they had gotten into. Although there was one little line that gave me a hint close to three-quarters of the way through the book, I wasn’t sure how that would even be accomplished.
I did keep wondering throughout the book if it was supposed to have an historical basis, and the author mentions in her Note at the end that there is a bit sprinkled throughout the story from the Kingdom of Poland at the end of the 18th century. So that right there probably is part of what I enjoyed. Even if it was obviously not a true or even close to true historical story, I enjoyed the bits that made it seem slightly like it was plucked from a history book.
I liked how the flirting was between so many different characters, both as part of trying to do what they needed, as well as with those they were truly interested in. I liked how the author showed that even with the pure heart the prince had, how he was a good guy, he wasn’t perfect, and was still a human, and that someone could still have a pure heart even like that.
Definitely will be ordering this for my school library and recommending to my students. And I look forward to reading more by this author in the future!