Saturday, August 13, 2016

The Midnight Circle – review

Author: Jaylene Jacobus

First published: 2016

Contains spoilers

The blurb: Clara Winters, a non-practicing witch, has been living the life of an old woman in the body of a twenty-two-year-old ever since fated to everlasting life in 1919. With the unexpected death of her beloved aunt, the easy life on her southern plantation is over. Grief awakens hiding ghosts--in the form of age-old magic and thirsty vampires.

Long ago, powerful magic entangled and stole Clara's great love, Wesley Russell, when he became a vampire. Wesley rises from banishment, forcing Clara to resist the temptation of a renewed life together by reminding him of the consequences that come to those who defy the spell of the Midnight Circle.

Mysterious mountain visions and guidance from her deceased aunt lead Clara on a journey to friendship and love, reintroducing her to the passions of youth. But as evil lurks and the Circle shows signs of unraveling, Clara becomes desperate to escape the spell without harming those she holds dear.

The review: A tale of witches and vampires, the Midnight Circle is focused on the character of Clara, a born nature witch. When a vampire targeted her family, in 1897, the new born Clara has a spell called the Midnight Circle cast upon her that makes her very presence deadly to vampires if they stay too close for too long. The spell can be broken but will kill the vampire who breaks it.

When she reaches the age of 22 her fiancée, Wesley, comes to her, in the early hours of the morning on the day of their wedding, and unbeknown to her he is transitioning to vampire. Their passion infects her with vampire venom and it freezes her in time (technically she is a witch/vampire hybrid – though she has none of their thirsts). She accidentally infects her aunt who is frozen in her forties and Wesley turns her cat as a companion for her.

The cat is the only vampire that can stay with her despite the spell (the aunt isn’t really a vampire – like Clara she just has her age frozen). Cut to the modern day and her Aunt dies, her spirit pushing Clara to find a set of friends, and Wesley, with the goal of breaking the spell and allowing her and Wesley to be together (in this world witches and vampires are often attracted to each other). And it is around this point in the plot that I have my issue with the book.

The book mostly concentrates on Clara and her friendship with four girls (all witches, though they are unaware of the fact). However, everything is so saccharinely perfect. This book falls into Mary Poppins Syndrome, with a heroine who is practically perfect in every way. The prose is solid enough, the characters well described but I like a bit of grit, dystopia and certainly flawed characters.

Even those (two) of the girls who have character flaws are quickly cured by practically perfect Clara. Wesley is a practically perfect lover and gentleman and it is the minor irritant of a spell that has to be overcome and is keeping the two lovers apart. The evil vampire is referenced (as is the powerful vampire who turned Wesley) but we don’t actually meet him in anything other than flashback – the peril is potential and the one possible attack (leaving a young guy turned) is unexplored (possibly left open for book 2).

Does it sound like I disliked the book – I appreciated the writer’s skills but this overtly romanticised view wasn’t for me and impacted the dialogue as presented, which again was solidly written but there was no natural dissent in the dialogue as how can perfection be dissented from? However, it may well be for you and I can’t knock the generally solid nature of the prose. 5.5 out of 10.

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