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Review: The Midnight Hour

The Midnight Hour

Title: The Midnight Hour
Author: Benjamin Read & Laura Trinder
Genre: Middle Grade Paranormal & Fantasy
Page Count: 288
Published by: Chicken House
Date Published: March 3, 2020
You can find it here: Bookshop.org


After a particularly passionate fight with her mother, Emily finds herself frustrated and crying in her bedroom. The fighting is pretty normal, what happens next is not.

A strange man on a bicycle delivers a mysterious midnight letter, the contents of which send her mom off on investigative mission. Days pass with no word, until another strange midnight letter arrives sending her dad off to find her mother. When neither parent returns it is up to Emily to find her missing parents.

Using all the assets she has — an odd key, a necklace of pennies, and her sharp tongue – Emily is launched into an obscure journey of the odd and creepy world of The Midnight Hour. Home to vampires, ghostly librarians, violent bears, witches, and more! The hour is always midnight, her parents hold surprisingly powerful rank, and she just might have some secret powers herself. Emily must unravel the clues and secrets to save her parents, the citizens of The Midnight Hour, and potentially the world itself!


Let’ Talk Characters:

I still don’t know how I feel about Emily. She is a passionate preteen, who has a self acclaimed snarky “gob” that gets her into continuous trouble with her equally passionate mother. While I feel the intention here was to harken an “Anne of Green Gables spirit” and tendency to get ones foot in ones mouth, there was no sensitivity or heart to balance her outspokenness. So she really just came across snarky, mean, and a little bratty.

Being that we are never informed why the mother and daughter fight so much here, it is left rather uncomfortable and unexplained.

Let’s Talk Exciting Events, Incomplete Storylines, and Uneven Storytelling:

While this tiny little novel is bursting with imaginative creativity, it is incredibly challenging to form much connection to the story itself, the characters or the world because, at least for the first half, we aren’t given any connecting material between exciting incidents. Rather, we just go from big scene to big scene without really any explanation … maybe it is told in this style so we feel as spun about as Emily herself, but for me I just felt dizzy and confused.

I wonder if this problem has more to do with the dual author aspect – it really felt like a game of hot potato in which the story line was just tossed between them with no one paying attention to the middle. Which was further exposed with incomplete, never fully realized storylines – what is with the hedgehog? Why do the mother and daughter fight so much? Why are the parents powerful? I guess I like a little more explanation rather than leaving it all up to imagination.

Let’s Talk the hard-to-find-early-chapter-books:

It is fun, it is enjoyable, it does a great job being spooky, not scary, and the writing itself flows freely and fast. I see no reason why a new chapter reader couldn’t handle this little novel and would definitely recommend it for that purpose. Novels like this can be a challenge to find and I really see this fast paced adventure fitting that bill for readers transitioning into chapter books.

Overall Thoughts: 

This was a fun, imaginative adventure into a spooky, but never scary, secret world. Emily is a mostly enjoyable young character but her snarky behaviour, while supposed to be independent and feisty, can come across mean and bratty. The first half of the book really struggles to find any connecting meat between exciting incidents, which unfortunately makes it difficult to form character connection or compassion. While fast, fun, and spirited, I found it held more promise than it delivered.

TBR Ranking: Middle-ish

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