Review: By Midnight by Mia James

Title: By Midnight

Author: Mia James

Series: The Ravenwood Mysteries #1

Genre: YA Paranormal Romance

Publisher: Indigo

Summary (from Goodreads)

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 from . . . something . . . . in 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 . . .

What’s Good About It

In a market more than saturated with ‘my boyfriend is a vampire’ novels, it’s a breath of fresh air to read a story with real mystery, threat and intrigue. That just happens to have vampires. Okay, so a lot of the tropes are present – Gabriel is gorgeous and mysterious and slightly creepy – but whereas in many of these sorts of books the plot is essentially ‘when are they going to get together’, By Midnight’s story has a lot more depth.

There are some truly shocking turns of events, which leave you feeling that none of your favourite characters are safe – which is a good thing! I can’t be bothered with these stories where no one dies, or so much as gets a hair out of place. Especially when they involve vampires, who are murderous killing machines, come on…

The characters were well developed, and even the more stereotypical ones had dimensions and depths that were waiting to be discovered beneath their vapid surfaces. April hit just the right balance of feisty but insecure and desirous of normality – a very endearing and relatable lead.

And the locations – haunting graveyards, dusty old bookshops, Ravenwood itself: each and every location was beautifully evoked. So real you could be there. And with location comes the ever present sense that someone’s watching, keeping tabs on April, and not in the ‘cute stalker/overprotective boyfriend’ sense of keeping tabs, either. There were more than a few moments that had the hairs on the back of my neck starting to stand up.

What’s Not So Good

Well, there isn’t really anything here we haven’t seen a hundred times before, but as long as you don’t mind that and haven’t reach PR Vampire saturation point, By Midnight is a great read for a slightly creepy winter evening.

Rating: 4.5 stars

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