The Midnight Hour, by Benjamin Read and Laura Trinder, for Timeslip Tuesday

The Midnight Hour, by Benjamin Read and Laura Trinder (middle grade, Chicken House, March 2020), isn't a typical time travel story.  But a bit of magical time twisting is central to the world building, and so I shall count it as time slip.

After her mother leaves home ostensibly for family reasons (surprising Emily, who's never met any of that family), and doesn't come back, her father leaves Emily alone while he goes to look for her.  With just a rescued hedgehog for company for the next few days, Emily gets increasingly anxious, and at last decides to go to the post office where her father works the night shift, to see if she can find any word of what's become of her parents.

But he is no ordinary postman, and it is no ordinary post office.  Instead, it is the Night Post, a way through to the Midnight Hour--a bit of Victorian London  frozen in time and cut off from reality to make a protective home for magical beings.  Visitors from the day-time world are not welcome there, and on top of her anxiety about her parents, Emily must face annoyed authorities.  But that's not the worst of her problems.  On the streets of the Midnight Hour, full of marvels and monsters, she is hunted by a malevolent bear person....

….who turns out to be working for someone more powerful and frightening still.  A being who needs something Emily has in order to break the confining magic of the Midnight Hour.  

Emily's situation is fairly awful; the mix of Victorian urban life with monsters and magic is dizzying, and she and her parents are in real danger.  For most of the book she doesn't even have any allies to buttress her, save for her loyal hedgehog.  Fortunately, she's a quick learner.  When she's about to give into despair, she has the intelligence to think of exactly the right way to use the rules of the Night Post, and it works like a charm.  After seeing Emily muddling through somewhat passively for much of the book, it was great to see her using her brains to gain control of the situation!  It was also lots of fun to see the secrets of her family gradually revealed.

If you think it would be fun to visit a Victorian London full of monsters, you'll love Emily's adventures.  I myself am not all that fond of confusing monster-filled alternate worlds in general, but Emily's cleverness and snarkiness won me over enough that I'll read the next book of her adventures with pleasure!  

1 comment:

  1. Wow. There is really a lot going on in this book. I do enjoy a clever, snarky main character though. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I will put this on my TBR list.


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