Thursday 22 September 2011

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Review: By Midnight by Mia James

By Midnight by Mia JamesBy Midnight by Mia James (review copy) - April Dunne is not impressed. She's had to move from Edinburgh to Highgate, London, with her parents. She's left her friends - and her entire life - behind. She has to start at a new school and, worst of all, now she's stuck in a creepy old dump of a house which doesn't even have proper mobile phone reception. Ravenwood, her new school, is a prestigious academy for gifted (financially or academically) students - and the only place her parents could find her a place, in the middle of term, in the middle of London, on incredibly short notice. So she's stuck with the super-rich, and the super-smart ...and trying to fit in is when the rest of the students seem to be more glamorous, smarter, or more talented than she is, is more than tough. It's intimidating and isolating, even when she finds a friend in the conspiracy-theorist Caro Jackson - and perhaps finds something more than friendship in the gorgeous, mysterious Gabriel Swift.

But there's more going on at Ravenwood than meets the eye. Practical jokes on new students are normal, but when Gabriel saves her the Highgate Cemetery, and then she discovers that a murder took place, just yards away from where she had been standing, April has to wonder if something more sinister is going on.

...and whether or not she's going to live through it...
From Amazon UK

I love me some vampires, yes I do! So for the simply fact that By Midnight had vampires in it was a definite plus in it's favour for me reading it. However, I am not a fan of books where people are popular and rich and focus all their attention on either how they look or putting others down. From the blurb above, I assumed that's what I would find, among other things, in this book, and it did put me off for a while - hence the fact that I've only just read it. But I picked it up recently when trying to decide what to read next, and vampires and murders and cememtries... well, my interest was piqued enough to know now was the time to give it a go.

By Midnight is a really good stry, but it's not what I expected. I know it's a mystery, but the fact that it's about vampires, I expected a bit more of the supernatural element. You know, maybe April stumbling across some vampires being vampish and drinking blood or being extra strong or something, but there isn't much of anything along those lines in the book until much later on. It really is a mystery. April doesn't find out the existance of vampires by accident, but through trying to work out who's behind various murders. Through clues, and books, and talking to people, and going about things the old fashioned way.

I have to say, the research part of the book was just awesome! This book is loosely based on actual real life legends of the Highgate Vamire, people actually believed there was one in Highgate Cemetary, which features hugely in this book. Real places with real "supernatural" history are the settings for this story, which just add credibility to this story which is just wonderful. I actually want to go visit Highgate Cemetary now because it sounds wonderful. But I also love the research April does herself into vampires; the old victorian books she reads that are just full of brilliant myths and folklore, and, oooh, I want those books! It was just fascinating!

The mythology James has created for her story is just wonderful, but highly intriguing. There is still a big mystery, and the mechanics of the vampire society, if you will - or what we know of it so far - is just so interesting. There's a lot of conspiracies going on, and because of this I can't tell you much more, but I can't wait to find out more about vampires as a whole, and the specifics that April is interested in in the later books.

Thankfully, there wasn't too much queen bee bitching going on to wind me up, but there were elements of By Midnight that did annoy me. April is 16 and starting her A-Levels. I remember being that age, and the people around me. April was sometimes too immature and shallow for her age, and I just wanted to shake her and yell at her to grow up. She could be so fickle, swayed too easily by good looks. And when she had an inkling as to what was going on, she would jump back and forth over whether she was right or wrong, without actually listning to what would give her the answers she would need to know either way. She really wound me up, and I have to say, I'm not her biggest fan.

But still, the story was really, really intriguing, and I'm really looking forward to reading the sequel Darkness Falls. A pretty good book!

Thank you to Gollancz for sending me a review copy.

Published: 22nd July 2010
Publisher: Gollancz YA
Buy from Amazon US
The Ravenwood Mysteries Website


  1. I enjoyed it as well. I too am sometimes put off by rich, bitchy groups of people, but I loved the atmosphere of this one with the cemetary and the spooky old school and stuff. I'm currently reading Darkness Falls and it's interesting going back to this story and the characters.

  2. I agree, the cemetary was just awesome! /though I didn't think of it as creepy, more as beautiful, lol. I received Darkness Falls today! :D Looking forward to reading it! :)

  3. Thanks for the honest review. Though I'm a big fan of books that pull in real historical elements from the settings as well as boarding school books, flighty/inconsistent characters turn me off. Sounds like April would be more frustrating than intriguing at points. So I might wait a bit more before picking up a copy of this one.


  4. No problem. She is a little annoying, but I found the story itself made up for her character. I' really looking forward to the sequel :)