Midnight Never Come by Marie Brennan

Just finished reading Midnight Never Come by Marie Brennan.  Set in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I Midnight Never Comes brings to us the wold of political intrigue from not only the court of the Virgin Queen but also from Queen Invidiana, ruler of the Onyx Court that lies beneath London.  I really enjoyed this story.  It’s well written and based on an intriguing concept that ties the fates of both Queens together through a pact created when the young Elizabeth lived under threat of execution.

I have to hand it to Marie Brennan here.  She has clearly researched extensively both this period of history and also the world of the fae and it shows.  She’s managed to recreate London and the Queen’s court with it’s political manoeuvring whilst also giving us the Onyx Court with it’s own brand of politics laced with the fae’s own wicked style.

The story centres around two particular courtiers.  Both of whom struggle for different reasons.  Lune serves the fae Queen but has fallen from grace after her negotiations with the sea fae left her Queen less than pleased.  Michael Deven aspires to greatness and is desperate to catch Elizabeth’s eye.  He manages to secure himself a place among the Gentlemen Pensioners who protect the Queen and also to gain the patronage of Walsingham.  Both characters are thrown together in the role of spy.  Lune to live among mortals at her Queen’s will uncovering secrets from the court in order to help with her own scheming and Michael as the eyes and ears of Walsingham as he tries to uncover what he believes to be an unknown influence upon Elizabeth.

The settings are both equally enjoyable to read.  Brennan manages to easily bring to mind the 16th century streets of London with it’s dark and seedy elements and also creates the magical world of the fae world that lies beneath the streets as a dark reflection.  No sunshine enters the Onyx court.  It’s filled with dark and twisting corridors and populated with a mixture of beautiful, ugly and bestial creatures who all take sinister pleasure in the downfall of others.  It’s a frightening world where Lune lives on a knife edge.

The characters are well written.  The tension and fear are easily felt and the constant danger that particularly Lune lives with gives the story a certain edginess.  Alongside this we manage to have a sprinkling of appearances from famous names from the period.  Walsingham, Essex, Dee and Marlowe all put in a turn and from the fae Queen’s court we have an equally interesting bunch of characters such as Tiresias – a mortal pet of Queen Invidiana and a seer whose strange and often incoherent visions torment him.  Brennan also manages to twist some of the most famous historical moments from Elizabeth’s history to give them a different slant, such as the defeat of the Armada.  I love it when an author manages to interweave historical and fantasy fiction in order to give a different meaning in this way.

The basic thrust of the story is that the pact made between the two Queens is damaging to both worlds and the two courtiers are between them set the task of discovering the basis of that pact and finding a way to break it.  It’s a very dangerous path to tread and both of their lives will become increasingly under threat.

If I have any criticisms about the book it would be probably in relation to the romantic element that exists between the two main characters.  I didn’t particularly read this book with any notion of romance being involved but Lune and Michael do become romantically involved.  For me, the relationship between the two felt very ‘thin’ – just as though we’ve been told they have feelings and that’s that – it just didn’t come across in the writing very well is all.

Apart from that I really enjoyed this book.  If you enjoy historical fiction mixed in with fantasy and courtly intrigue then I think you’ll enjoy this very much.

I’m submitting this for the Once Upon A Time event being hosted by Stainless Steel Droppings

12 Responses to “Midnight Never Come by Marie Brennan”

  1. TracyK

    This book sounds interesting. I do like historical fiction, and don’t have a lot of exposure to fantasy. I will put this on my list of fantasy books to try.

    • lynnsbooks

      I think the author is really good. I’m waiting to read her most recent novel – A Natural History of Dragons – which looks really good.
      Lynn 😀

  2. jessicabookworm

    This sounds like a wonderful tale! I love it when author’s mix history and fantasy together. I will definitely have to keep my eye out for this book 😛

    • lynnsbooks

      I think she’s a good author. She clearly researched this very well and I enjoyed being in London again during Elizabeth I’s reign.
      Lynn 😀

  3. darkcargo

    Huh. I really like your reviews, Lynn. I read this several years ago, and I liked it, liked the concept and the author’s voice, but something about it was …thin, as you say. Maybe it was the romance. Have you started the next one?

    • lynnsbooks

      No, in fact when I picked this up I had no idea there were more books in the series – I thought it was a standalone? Have you read the others – were they good?? To be honest I picked this up because I wanted to see what the author was like – I want to read her ‘A Natural History of Dragons’ so thought I’d check out some of her others beforehand. I think the idea for this is really good and I like her writing style. I don’t think the romance added much and almost felt like a background detail, which didn’t overly bother me because I wasn’t expecting to be reading a romance.
      Lynn 😀

      • Elizabeth

        Yes, there are three in the series, I think. I know that the library has Dragons, I’ll pick that up. This discussion reminded me that I like her writing, even if I didn’t like that one book very much, I still want to try reading her newest.

      • lynnsbooks

        I’ll have to wait and see what you think. Hope it’s good.
        Lynn 😀

  4. mervih

    I’ve enjoyed the whole series and I think it only gets better. My favorite thing in the series is the interweaving of the historical aspect with fantasy. Each book is set about 100 years apart from each other so the human characters change. Most of the point-of-view characters are also different each time.

    Next books: In Ashes Lie, A Star Shall Fall, and With Fate Conspire.

    • lynnsbooks

      I also enjoyed the historical/fantasy interweaving aspect of the story. To be honest I didn’t even realise when I started that there was more than one book.
      Lynn 😀

  5. cherylmahoney

    Ooh, I like the sound of this! Queen Elizabeth I is always (well, usually) intriguing, and combined with a magical royal court–fun!

    • lynnsbooks

      I thought it was a really good premise as well to be honest and I love reading about anything Tudor.
      Lynn 😀

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