Twelve-year-old Midnight Reynolds is a middle-school student who works undercover for the Agency of Spectral Protection, helping ghosts cross over into the afterlife and saving her town from mishaps involving spectral energy. Now school's out for the summer, and Midnight and her best friend Tabitha just want to have fun. But their plans are interrupted when a mysterious traveling circus and a ghostly ringmaster come to town. As people start getting hurt, Midnight finds herself in the middle of her most deadly mission yet. Someone’s stealing spectral energy from the living! Can they be stopped before it’s too late?
Catherine Holt is a middle grade author and librarian who was born in Australia but now lives in New Zealand. Because she is mysterious, she also writes under the name Amanda Ashby and her books have been nominated for a Romantic Times Reviewers Choice award, and listed by the New York Public Libraryʼs Stuff for the Teen Age.
I received an ARC copy of this book from Edelweiss
I definitely think this is my favorite book in the series so far. It might just be that I am FINALLY reading them 'in order' or it might be that Midnight's group of friends and therefore the main cast is growing which always makes a book more interesting, or it might be that I love anything to do with a haunted circus! This book continues on in the same vein as the first two with it being kind of spooky and supernatural but not actually outright scary so I think that is good for younger readers [and fun for adults like me as well] and is overall just a really fun read. Also I really love the covers for these books and I think it's cool that all of Midnight's tools for the new kinds of spectral energy she encounters end up looking a bit like other everyday items. Definitely a cute series!
These are cheerfully manic "spectral" adventures, with likeable characters and fast paced action. Midnight Reynolds is basically an on-call psychopomp, but spectral energy is tricky stuff and as a member of the Agency of Spectral Protection Midnight often finds herself in new, unusual, and dangerous situations. MILD SPOILER: This time out someone is stealing spectral energy from the living, (no doubt to extend their own villainous lives), and Midnight has to put a stop to that and recover and return that life energy. There's a Circus in town, and that's never good.
The first book in this series had to set up the whole premise, and it was weighed down by that task. Here, we are up to speed right out of the gate, so readers familiar with the setup get the reminders they need and newbies are brought up to speed fairly efficiently. This plot also doesn't involve a lot of ASP details and rules and such, so we quickly get on to the adventure. The plot is twisty and inventive enough to keep the reader invested, even if we don't break much new ground in the whole stealing-life-essence genre.
The writing approach here is interesting and very middle grade reader friendly. I would have sworn that the book was narrated in the first person by Midnight. But it isn't. We have a mega-prescient narrator. The beauty of that is the young reader is led through a story that has a bit of a complicated plot and a lot of characters by a narrator who is always nearby to make sure everything is clear. You hear a lot about showing and not telling and so on, but for a young reader of a fantasy ghosty action adventure tale, maybe a little more telling is just fine.
On top of this you have a much better than usual set of main characters. Midnight is smart, feisty, and dependable, but not any sort of supergirl. She can get scared or confused or mess things up, and this mix of vulnerability and devotion to duty is very appealing. Midnight's pal Tabitha is a Goth with a soft spot who has an anything goes attitude that complements Midnight nicely. Lots of adults are competent and supportive. The boys who come in and out of the picture are dreamy-lite and the bits of low impact romance and crushing are upbeat.
So, this struck me as another fine entry in this series. It's fun but suspenseful and thrilling in its own way. It worked nicely for me as a solid middle grade entertainment.
(Please note that I received a free advance will-self-destruct-in-x-days Adobe Digital copy of this book without a review requirement, or any influence regarding review content should I choose to post a review. Apart from that I have no connection at all to either the author or the publisher of this book.)