Home > Fantasy, Intermediate Fiction, Senior Fiction > The Midnighters by Hana Tooke. Illus. Ayesha Rubio. Pub. Puffin, 2022.

The Midnighters by Hana Tooke. Illus. Ayesha Rubio. Pub. Puffin, 2022.

July 28, 2022

One of the most unusual novels I have ever read, it’s not quite realism, it’s not quite fantasy but it is both of these. Set in the magical city of Prague with it’s spires, it’s bridges and its mechanical clock this novel takes you beneath the city to the dark magical world of the people that live after midnight.

Ema Vaskova was born at midnight on the twelfth day of the twelfth month at the same time as her grandmother Liliana died. She was one of twelve children-5 sets of twins and the oldest sister Frantiska, the only non twin, who takes responsibility for bringing her up.

Now Ema is twelve and she is sent to live with her uncle in old Prague where she meets a girl hanging upside down like a bat with a round face, round eyes and silver hair called Silvie. Ema lives in a state of impending doom, has a scientific mind like her other family members, has the ability to go unseen, people don’t notice her, and has a skill of being able to read people’s faces and know when they are lying.

Silvie sees Ema for what she is and tells her “nothing is impossible with a little imagination” and encourages her to have “less worrying and more daring.” Silvie tells Ema of a world beneath the city of Prague where the midnight Guild meet and react, and it is a strange world indeed. How will Ema cope? Then Silvie disappears and evidence of a murder starts to emerge. Where is Silvie and if there has been a murder who is guilty?

This is a novel about difference and in the words of the author Ema is an Enigma and quite possibly neurodivergent. This novel is not for everyone but readers of fantasy who love detail will love it to bits. I did.

Each chapter contains an illustration by Ayesha Rubio at the top which helps the intrigue and sets the scene for the action. A very nice package with short chapters and nearly 400 pages. You have never read anything like this before.

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