The Firebird is Mightier Than the Sword: Cassie-la Flies Through ‘The Girl at Midnight’ by Melissa Grey

The Girl at Midnight Melissa GreyThe Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey (Galley)
Release Date
: April 28, 2015
: Fiction, fantasy, young adult, magic, birds are sexy but dragons are sexier
Rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars

Summary: For centuries a war has been fought between two fantastical races: the bird-like Avicen and the dragon-esque Drakharin. According to legend, only the mythical firebird can end the war, and street-wise human thief Echo may be the only one who can find it. Full of magic, fantasy, romance and sass, The Girl at Midnight is the next young adult trilogy to add to your to-read pile!

The Girl at Midnight (which coincidentally kicked off our first Book Cover Battle) tells the story of Echo, a runaway orphan turned thief who left her family behind only to be taken in by the Ala, a centuries old Seer and member of a race of bird-human creatures who live under New York City known as the Avicen.

In addition to hiding from humanity, the Avicen are also protecting themselves from the nefarious Drakharin, a race of dragon-human creatures who they have been at war with for centuries. The only thing that can stop the never-ending battle? The legendary, mythical creature known as the firebird.

Finally, a young adult novel where the weapon isn’t love or friendship. Unless it is. There’s still two more books to go.

Girl at Midnight Books of WonderWhat’s that you say, an orphan taken in by a race of mythical creatures who are at war with another group of mythical creatures sounds awfully similar to Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy?

You would be correct, but you would also be missing the amazing group of characters who inhabit Grey’s book if you choose to dwell on the bare-bones aspects of the plot.

It’s worth mentioning that Grey’s novel has multiple POVs, but they were all so good that I didn’t even immediately register the switching perspectives. And when I did, not once did I think to myself something along the lines of, “I wish I wasn’t reading a Bran chapter. If only I was reading a Tyrion chapter instead.”

First up is our sass-tastic protagonist Echo, who lives in a protected room inside the New York Public Library and collects books and words. For example, Echo is fond of and guilty of the Japanese word Tsundoku, which means allowing unread books to pile up. Full disclosure, I am also guilty of such things.

Tsundoku Meaning

(SIDE NOTE: For a more in-depth look at Echo’s word-collecting skills, check out this post by our pal Eric Smith over on the B&N Teen Blog.)

Raised by the Ala, Echo has been taught how to travel from place to place around the planet through the in-between by using shadow dust and Waystations like the Arc de Triomphe and Grand Central Station.

So how does one obtain shadow dust. By traveling through the phone booth at the back of Crif Dogs to a hidden magical marketplace called the Agora of course! Of course.

The Girl at Midnight UKOn the Avicen side of the war, there’s Echo’s bestie, the dessert loving Ivy who is training to be a healer, Echo’s other bestie turned boyfriend Rowan who is training to be a soldier in the never-ending war, the semi-literal peacock thief Jasper and the aforementioned mother-figure the Ala.

While the Ala is accepting of Echo’s humanity and her interspecies love affair with Rowan, others are not, including Echo’s mortal enemy Ruby and the narrow-minded Avicen general Altair.

Across the world (the real and fictional one) are the Drakharin. While the Avicen are human creatures with feathers around their bodies, the Drakharin have semi-scaled skin.

The Drakharin are ruled by the Dragon Prince, Caius, a stoic and thoughtful ruler compared to his twin sister and general Tanith, who is all vengeance and fire. Think Zuko and Azula in Avatar: The Last Airbender. There’s also Caius’ right hand man and Captain of the Guard Dorian, who would do anything for his prince. He would also really love to punish the Avicen who stole his eye.

As expected, Echo will meet all of them as she embarks on the greatest mission of her life: to find the firebird and save her loved ones from a never-ending war.


  • Lush magic and world building, particularly the fantasy world hidden within and underneath the real world
  • Amazing characters complete with realistic character development
  • All POVs are good POVS (can I be besties with everyone?)
  • Descriptions are beautiful and on point – get ready for intense feelings of hunger and wanderlust!


  • Twists and turns were not so twisting that you didn’t see them coming


  • “… When I’m feeling sad, I like to be around all these books. They’re very good at making you forget your troubles. It’s like having a million friends, wrapped in paper and scrawled in ink.”
  • “Names are not things to be rushed. There’s power in names.”
  • “New York … The city that never cleans.”
  • “The young always think they’re invincible, right until the moment they learn otherwise.”
  • “Those who forget their history … Are doomed to repeat it.”
  • “This war had wormed its way into her world, swallowing her friends one by one.”

Are you living for the US cover of The Girl at Midnight? I must admit I’m partial to the UK one. Vote for which cover holds your heart over in our first ever Book Cover Battle!

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