Published by Branford Books on September 20, 2016
Life is rough for eleven-year-old Wyatt Dumont. He's too small to fend off his mean older sister, and the school bully picks on him every day. But life changes when his mother is offered a job in the secretive town of Davenport. Wyatt is excited for the move until he notices that some of the townsfolk are more than human. There s a man with green skin and gills, and a middle school teacher with red eyes and fangs! Even Wyatt s new classmates are a spark elf and a wulfyn--a werewolf, but don t call him that... or else! Wyatt is panicked. But nothing alarms him more than the darkest secret of all: Davenport hasn't seen the sun in over four hundred years. Wyatt quickly becomes obsessed with the town's mysteries, and he begins to uncover the truth--one deadly secret at a time.
I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
The Midnight Glass: A Not-So-Dark Fantasy for Young Readers
The Midnight Glass is a solid read for ages nine and up. Though labeled “dark fantasy,” I believe the story is suitable for children as young as seven. Meaning, it isn’t that dark.
The city of Davenport is my favorite thing about this novel. It’s a richly imagined city with interesting creatures and “technology” (the anti-gravity race is super cool) and enough intrigue to last for several books. The town existing in perpetual darkness is an especially interesting premise. And town’s feuding founders added an extra layer of thoughtfulness to Vaughn’s world building.
Wyatt and his friends, Tova (a spark elf, how cool is that?) and Mcgregor (a werewolf, but don’t call him that. It’s wulfyn, thank you very much), will easily resonate with young readers. It’s hard being different, and these characters know the hardships that kids face in this regard. There’s even something identifiable for older kids in Roxanne, Wyatt’s emo older sister.
Wyatt is biracial, though it’s not explicitly stated. But it is easily hinted at and was a welcome addition to the story. I read so few middle-grade novels with POC main characters that this story is a welcome addition to my collection.
On a critical note, I do think there are too many characters. Vaughn does a great job of keeping track of everyone, but it’s at the expense of the plot. Wyatt’s the main character, and he doesn’t get enough time to explore and figure things out before he finds the answers. To me, a thirty-one-year-old, the plot was too convenient at times. The mystery could have been emphasized more. More clues that Wyatt is who he is. More clues about who the bad guy is. More time spent showing the big reveal instead of his mother telling him. I realize that a nine-year-old may not have these same issues, but they are worth noting.
In the end, The Midnight Glass is a good story for independent readers. It’s also a good read-aloud story for parents and kids. The setting and characters are stand-out. I’ll be looking for a sequel. Wyatt has a town to protect, after all.
© 2016, Jessica Workman Holland. All rights reserved.