Thursday, October 27, 2016

Book Review: Born At Midnight, by C.C. Hunter


Born At Midnight
(Shadow Falls, Book 1)
C.C. Hunter
Trade Paperback, 398 pages
St. Martin's Griffin
March 29, 2011
Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, Young Adult Fiction
Source: Barnes & Noble bookstore

Book Synopsis:  Don’t miss this spectacular new series that will steal your heart and haunt your dreams, Welcome to Shadow Falls camp, nestled deep in the woods of a town called Fallen…

One night Kylie Galen finds herself at the wrong party, with the wrong people, and it changes her life forever. Her mother ships her off to Shadow Falls—a camp for troubled teens, and within hours of arriving, it becomes painfully clear that her fellow campers aren’t just “troubled.” Here at Shadow Falls, vampires, werewolves, shapeshifters, witches and fairies train side by side—learning to harness their powers, control their magic and live in the normal world.

Kylie’s never felt normal, but surely she doesn’t belong here with a bunch of paranormal freaks either. Or does she? They insist Kylie is one of them, and that she was brought here for a reason. As if life wasn’t complicated enough, enter Derek and Lucas. Derek’s a half-fae who’s determined to be her boyfriend, and Lucas is a smokin’ hot werewolf with whom Ky
lie shares a secret past. Both Derek and Lucas couldn’t be more different, but they both have a powerful hold on her heart.

Even though Kylie feels deeply uncertain about everything, one thing is becoming painfully clear—Shadow Falls is exactly where she belongs…



https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/8705784-born-at-midnight?ac=1&from_search=true





This is almost entirely a character-driven book, which surprised me, since I was expecting more action, considering the collection of paranormal (or supernatural, as they're called in this novel) creatures all at one single place. Even more surprising was the fact that I didn't mind at all that the plot was not as intense as I had originally thought it would be. In fact, I picked up and read the book every single chance I got, until I finally finished it.

I would even go as far as to say that the supernatural element is not really the most important, or even one of the most important, aspects of this novel. The characters acted in such typical human ways that it was actually difficult to remember that these were vampires, werewolves, fairies, shapeshifters, and witches. And this was the most enchanting, and really addictive, part of the book! All of these otherworldly creatures, living and interacting in a summer camp, having their relationships and emotional problems with each other, just like 'normal' people....well, I just totally LOVED it!!

Although Kylie Galen is the protagonist, all of the other characters came alive to such an extent that I wanted to go stay at this camp, and get to meet them personally! I came to really know and love them all. Even Tom Galen, Kylie's dad, who, through his immature and selfish behavior, caused her parents' separation, came alive for me. Even though I could not condone his actions, I could feel his frustrations and stress. (He was not a supernatural, however.)

As for Kylie, she was (and is) one of the nicest, kindest, and toughest female protagonists I've ever encountered in YA fiction. I put her right up there with Rose Hathaway in the Vampire Academy series, even though their personalities are very different. Kylie is not as snarky as Rose, for instance. But when push comes to shove, she shows what she's made of. She's no wimp!

Kylie's best  friends, Della, the vampire, and Miranda, the witch, are also wonderful characters! They are very supportive toward Kylie. Although their relationship does not always run smoothly, they're nevertheless loyal friends through it all. Both Miranda and Della also have their own dysfunctional family woes, so this is another thing that strengthens their bond with Kylie. In Della's case, her parents have no idea that she's become a vampire, so her relationship with them has become rather awkward. They are constantly suspecting her of doing drugs, wondering if that explains the changes in her behavior. As for Miranda, she has to live up to her own family's expectations of her as a witch, and she's not sure she can do that.

Adding to the poignancy of the character relationships is the fact that Kylie can no longer relate to her lifelong best friend -- Sara, who is not a supernatural -- in the same way she did before arriving at Shadow Falls and discovering that she (Kylie) is not entirely human. 

As for the male characters, there's Derek the half-Fae, with his power of reading and soothing strong emotions, and Lucas the werewolf, who actually met Kylie when she was a child (she was afraid of him at the time). Of course, both of these guys are HOT. Totally. Not only are they attractive physically, but both of them have hearts of gold. And both of them are attracted to Kylie, and she to them. Yeah, I know....this sounds like something you've read in other YA novels..... Except that it totally works here! I don't know how the author does it, but I didn't feel like rolling my eyes in frustration and muttering  "Not another love triangle!" Seriously. Bear with me here. It might not seem that way, but this is all very compelling reading. How compelling? Well, I have already bought the rest of the books in the series, and am getting ready to do the same with the spin-off series, Shadow Falls After Dark. That should tell you something!

Another compelling male character is Perry, the shapeshifter, who freaks out Kylie the very first time she sees him transform into a unicorn. He's a pretty lovable character, although his behavior is sometimes very immature, especially regarding his crush on Miranda. 

Another secondary character I loved was Holiday, one of the camp counselor/leaders. She and Kylie developed a wonderful, sisterly, relationship. Kylie not only looked up to her, but also relied on her for advice and feedback. Holiday was very supportive of Kylie from the very beginning, which was great, considering all the stress Kylie was going through, what with her parents' separation and impending divorce, and being shipped off to a camp where she initially felt like a fish out of water, since she thought all the other campers were 'freaks'.

Holiday has a very nurturing spirit, and she shares Kylie's supernatural gift of 'ghost whispering'. This means that both of them can see and hear ghosts. Furthermore, Holiday, like Derek, has a very calming effect on people through her touch. So this, too, is very helpful to Kylie.

I don't want to give the impression that NOTHING happens in this novel, because that's not true. However, this is not the type of novel in which there's a crisis on just about every page. There IS some action, but it's rather sporadic. Hunter concentrates on character development above all else. The action, when it's introduced, is tied very closely to the characters' personalities, a fact that I really appreciated, because, if I can't fall in love and empathize with a book's characters, then I can't get into the book at all. So I was willing to tolerate some slow action in order to really get to know the characters.

There's an overall sense of mystery in this book, which was something else I loved! For instance, who is "Soldier Dude", the ghost whom Kylie keeps seeing? What kind of supernatural is Kylie? Is she a budding vampire, werewolf, fairy, shapeshifter, or witch? She doesn't know, and neither does Holiday, whom Kylie frequently appeals to. What kinds of supernatural gifts does Kylie have? And who in her family background did she inherit these gifts from?

Hunter is able to blend problems faced by supernaturals with the usual types of 'angstsy' problems  encountered by teens, such as how to fit into a new group  at a specific place, such as a summer camp, how to find oneself, what to do with two conflicting love interests, and just how to make sense of life in general.

The concept of rogue vampires is also included in this novel, and this becomes one of the elements driving plot action. 

In the hands of a less-skilled author, these disparate elements might not have come together as smoothly as they do here. Hunter, however, has seamlessly brought them all together, crafting a wonderful, memorable tale that is sure to delight all lovers of things paranormal!

I'm totally immersed in this fictional world now, and really can't get enough of it! Having just finished the second novel, Awake At Dawn, I've also started the third, Taken At Dusk. This is an addictive YA paranormal series, and I'm SO glad to have discovered it!!  

This is a very well-written, totally engaging, coming of age story that also happens to contain paranormal elements. Kylie, Della, Miranda, Derek, Perry,  and Lucas are all very believable teens, in spite of also being supernaturals. Their hopes and dreams, anxieties, loves, and desires are SO believable, SO very real, that the reader has no trouble at all relating to them!

This series is a great addition to the Young Adult paranormal romance and urban fantasy genres! If you're a die-hard fan of these genres, as I am, you will surely LOVE this novel, as well as the subsequent ones!!

MY RATING: 

      


C.C. Hunter grew up in Alabama, where she caught lightning bugs, ran barefoot, and regularly rescued potential princes, in the form of Alabama bullfrogs, from her brothers. Today, she's still fascinated with lightning bugs, mostly wears shoes, but has turned her focus to rescuing mammals. She now lives in Texas with her four rescued cats, one dog, and a prince of a husband, who for the record, is so not a frog. When she's not writing, she's reading, spending time with her family, or is shooting things-with a camera, not a gun.

C.C. Hunter is a pseudonym. Her real name is Christie Craig and she also writes humorous romantic suspense romance novels for Grand Central.

  

 

2 comments:

  1. Nice review, Maria!
    Ohh, now you made me miss this world! Guess what I'll be reading this fall? Yes, you're right, Shadow Falls! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Irena!

      Thank you so much for the compliment!! Mich appreciated!

      This series is just SO addictive! I'm glad to hear that you're going to re-read the first two books and then complete the series!! : )

      Delete

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