The Midnight Girls

Sourcebooks/Fire. Dec. 2021. 352p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781728210018.
Gr 8 Up–In this atmospheric fantasy inspired by Polish culture, two monstrous girls battle each other for the heart of a prince but ultimately fall for each other. Marynka and Zosia are apprenticed to the witches of midday and midnight, vicious competitors who consume the hearts of princes to gain power. Caught in a cycle of brutal one-upmanship, the girls must constantly outfox each other to gain the upper hand, extract princely hearts with their claws, and feed their masters. However, instead of demoralizing them, this fierce rivalry inspires both to greater heights. On assignment to gain the heart of the saintly Prince Józef, Marynka and Zosia finally meet in person and find that the tension between them easily shifts from violence to flirtation. Although the brutal nature of their connection often leaves the romance feeling cold, Marynka and Zosia do eventually find common ground in their shared experiences. However, the lack of closure at the end may leave some readers feeling unfulfilled. A background romance between Prince Józef and his former best friend turned enemy is at times more compelling than the main affair. Jasinska crafts a detailed, distinctive world, including diverse religious beliefs and Polish mythology, though all of the main characters are coded as white.
VERDICT An additional purchase for readers who prefer slow-build romance or for fans of dark, fairy tale–inspired fantasy authors like Marie Rutkoski or Natasha Ngan.

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