Beatrice Clayborn is a sorceress who practices magic in secret, terrified of the day she will be locked into a marital collar to cut off her powers. She dreams of becoming a full-fledged mage, but her family are in severe debt, and only her marriage can save them.
Beatrice finds a grimoire with the key to becoming a mage, but a rival sorceress swindles the book right out of her hands. Beatrice summons a spirit to help, but her new ally exacts a price: Beatrice’s first kiss . . . with the sorceress’s brother: the handsome, compassionate, and fabulously wealthy Ianthe Lavan.
The Midnight Bargain is an exciting YA fantasy with a sprinkling of romance. It’s set in Chasland, a fictional world very reminiscent of regency England. The world is vibrant and colourful and the writing is elegant and easy to following and perfectly describes the costumes and setting of the regency era. We follow Beatrice Clayborn who craves her independence and dreams of becoming a mage, but with ‘Bargaining Season’ fast approaching she is expected to find a husband and give up her dreams.
The story is compelling, well paced and interesting and the theme running throughout is gross inequality for women. Women are stripped of their powers in order to bear children whilst the men continue to retain theirs. A marriage collar is used, this horrendous appendage blocks a woman’s magic powers in order to protect her unborn baby from being purloined by spirits. The magic system is fascinating, it’s well explained and developed and I particularly enjoyed the spirit summoning scenes. There sense of tension in these scenes with the expectation that something might go horribly wrong.
The characters on the whole are likeable and well portrayed, and it was fascinating exploring the relationships between them all. However, it was Nadi the Luck Spirit who shone for me. What a wonderful comical character. She’s so jolly and mischievous and with her constant hex-readiness she really made me chuckle. Beatrice is feisty, independent and brave and fights for what she believes in and again a well drawn character and it was wonderful seeing her character develop over the course of the story. I would have liked to have seen a bit more depth and grittiness to Ianthe’s character, although his kindness and intelligence is communicated to the reader, he otherwise comes across a little one-dimensional and bland.
The romance was nothing special, in truth I found it a little underwhelming and lacking in chemistry and with no build up or depth to it, appeared superficial. It is in fact Ysbeta rather than Ianthe who appears to interact more with Beatrice and has a much greater connection.
The Midnight Bargain is an enjoyable and entertaining read with a smooth and easy to following writing style. The magic system is complex and interesting and there are some fabulous descriptions of the regency world. There is definitely a lot going on here to attract a YA fantasy audience, but particularly if you enjoy historical fantasy with a hint of romance.
Publisher: Orbit (Little Brown Book Group)
Publication Date (UK):
13 April 2021 (Kindle)
15 April 2021 (Paperback)
Page Count: 416
Genre: YA Fantasy/Regency Fantasy/Romance
Thank you to the publisher for the gifted advanced copy/eARC of this book to review.
Please do not hesitate to comment below if you liked my review or have any comments about this book 😊