Book reviews, new books, publishing news, book giveaways, and author interviews

Book Review: Midnight Magic by Nancy di Fabbio

midnight magic di fabbio1 Book Review: Midnight Magic by Nancy di Fabbio

Like many young teens, fourteen-year-old Mattie spends her days longing for a horse of her own. However, Matties pleading and wheedling are met by her mothers reminders that owning a horse is no inexpensive undertakingparticularly given that Matties mother is a single parent working several menial jobs to make ends meet. Mattie herself spends her summer afternoons working in a clothing shop to help contribute to the family kitty, but its a job that only reminds her of the divide between the haves and the have-nots: the shop is frequented by wealthy visiting teens with cash to burn and an inbuilt dislike of anyone perceived to be beneath them. Of course, these same girls all have a horse of their own, and this, combined with their snotty attitudes, only serves to further dishearten Mattie.

When Matties grandmother sees Matties lack of appreciation for what she hasas well as her disinclination to actually try to set her dreams in motionsshe intervenes, inviting Mattie to live with her for the summer and arranging a part-time job for Mattie at the local stables. Mattie is initially delighted with this change, but her inner green-eyed monster rears its head when she begins to compare the out-to-pasture pony she is working with to the elegant, showy steeds of the wealthy teens who are her sworn enemies. One night, reflecting on this, Mattie comes across an antique painting of an elegant stallionher dream horseand wishes fervently that he could be hers.

The book, however, is subtitled be careful what you wish for for good reason: the black stallion who begins to come to Mattie in the night is certainly mesmerising, but magic has a habit of catching people unawares

Midnight Magic'is the sort of classic teen horsy story I loved as a child: its all about overcoming adversity through random acts of chance and ending up with your hearts desire. Mattie undergoes the character arc so typical of these books as well, transforming from whiny, ineffectual teen (and one with bad hair and love handles at that) into someone self-assured and independent (and with good hair and abs to die for). However, the extent of this transformation can be a challenge for the reader at the beginning: Matties selfish demands and her lack of appreciation for her family and friends causes her to come across as rather unlikeable, and I found it hard to identify with her until later on in the book. Even then, her astonishing focus on appearance and material things was somewhat discomfiting, and her constant dismissal of her best friend Katie made me wince a little (was I like that as a teen? Gosh, I hope not!).

Similarly, I longed for a slightly different approach to be taken with the rich girls, who on the surface are schadenfreudians through and through, but who are secretly longing for the attentions of their parents. Its a theme thats common enough in young adult fiction that it can seem a little stale and sweeping, and can seem lazy on the behalf of the author.

I did enjoy the plot conceit of the magical horse in the painting, but thought that this was dealt with rather clumsily and with some better editorial input might have been more readily integrated into the narrative. Interspersed throughout Matties narration are bolded passages from the horses perspectivethink something along the lines of come here, little girl! Im going to eat your soul for supper!but rather than adding a sense of intensity or trepidation, I felt that they detracted from the book, which would work just as well without them. In fact, their superfluity was such that every time they cropped up I began wondering why a horse could have such human intentions and motivations rather than actually following the story. The removal of these and a rejigging of the narrative so that the mid-book flashback chapters were foregrounded to the beginning of the novel might have allowed for a more streamlined approach.

The dialogue is another area that could have been improved. Although the content of the dialogue is generally good, with few infodumps or unwieldy bits and pieces worked in, the dialogue at times feels rather stilted, and at other times very rushed and breathless. Unfortunately, it rarely comes across as natural, and given how much of the book is dialogue, this affects its overall readability.

Finally, the ending is perhaps too tidy to be accepted by the reader. I enjoyed the final scene, which hints at a possible sequel, but found the way that everything else wrapped up a little too fantastical. Im going to get a bit spoilery here, so look away if thats a concern: the magical painting is eventually sold off for a sum of several million dollars, and this money is used to transform Matties home into a space containing a barn and a riding ringall in the week or so during which Mattie is away visiting friends in New York. Its a sweet ending, but one that doesnt quite sit right in a book for readers of this age.

In all, though, this is a quick and easy read, and Im sure it will appeal to horse-loving teens and tweens.

Rating: star Book Review: Midnight Magic by Nancy di Fabbiostar Book Review: Midnight Magic by Nancy di Fabbiohalfstar Book Review: Midnight Magic by Nancy di Fabbioblankstar Book Review: Midnight Magic by Nancy di Fabbioblankstar Book Review: Midnight Magic by Nancy di Fabbio (not bad)

See our interview with Nancy Di Fabbio

Support Read in a Single Sitting by purchasing'Midnight Magic'from
Amazon'| Book Depository UK | Book Depository USA

Other books by Nancy Di Fabbio:

quest for the dress di fabbio Book Review: Midnight Magic by Nancy di Fabbio

white 15 Book Review: Midnight Magic by Nancy di FabbioSend to Kindle

No comments

Add us to your Google reader: Add to Google

Follow us on Blog Lovin' Follow on Bloglovin