Review: Midnight Never Come, Marie Brennan

Occasionally, when I am planning meals on the weekend, I get depressed from meal-planning and take a break to do book-planning. Book-planning consists of me combing through my TBR list and making a shortlist of books to read next. I find this relaxing. I start by making a list of categories of books (gender-issues nonfiction, something in translation, fantasy, kids’ book), depending on what I am in the mood for, and then pick things from my TBR list to fit my criteria. When I did this last weekend, my list was this:

something in translation
something from Africa
something zany
something fantasyish that Memory loved

Midnight Never Come is the something fantasyish that Memory loved. By choice I’d have gone with The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms for this category, but I am still fourth on the holds list for that, so I substituted Midnight Never Come. This is a testament to my trust in Memory’s fantasy taste, because ordinarily I do not like books about fairies (or faerie). I am over fairies. They think they’re so damn clever. I feel like if you’re going to act like you’re as terrifying as fairies in stories act like they are, you shouldn’t have gossamer wings. JUST A THOUGHT. The only fairy-type book I like in the whole world is The Moorchild. And Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, also. A Midsummer Night’s Dream is not my favorite Shakespeare, and I don’t much care for the fairies in Sandman. So.

Long ago, at her coronation, Elizabeth I struck a bargain with the queen of faerie, a bargain that somehow helps both of them stay on their thrones. Now, thirty years later, mortal Michael Deven (on staff with my boy Sir Francis Walsingham) and Lune, fallen from favor in the viciously political faerie court of Queen Invidiana, are beginning to discover secrets about the bargain, and the intertwining of the faerie and mortal court.

(Yes, the wicked faerie queen is called Invidiana. Deal.)

I really, really enjoyed the parts of the book that dealt with Elizabethan history. Marie Brennan had obviously done her homework, but she didn’t do the thing of inserting tons of unnecessary information just to show how well-informed she was (unlike some historical fantasy writers that I am reading right now). I loved almost everything set in the mortal world, except I didn’t care much for Michael Deven. And indeed I wasn’t altogether in love with Lune. The world of the book, the intertwining of the mortal and faerie spheres, drew me in,  but the characters did not. Fortunately it’s the world that continues in the sequels, not the characters.

I was excited to read the sequels to Midnight Never Come, and glad I had bothered getting A Star Shall Fall from the library at the same time that I got Midnight Never Come. In Ashes Lie, the second book in the Onyx Court series, claimed to be in at the library but wasn’t. So I skipped it. Don’t judge. I asked Memory if it was okay first.

Other reviews:

Stella Matutina
Graeme’s Fantasy Book Review
Fantasy Book Critic
Grasping for the Wind
The Book Swede

Tell me if I missed yours!