Monday 15 August 2011

By Midnight by Mia James

Pages - 437
Published by Gollancz in 2011 (imprint of Orion Publishing Group)

Goodreads Summary
April Dunne is not impressed. She's had to move from Edinburgh to Highgate, London, with her parents. She's left her friends - and her entire life - behind. She has to start at a new school and, worst of all, now she's stuck in a creepy old dump of a house which doesn't even have proper mobile phone reception. Ravenwood, her new school, is a prestigious academy for gifted (financially or academically) students - and the only place her parents could find her a place, in the middle of term, in the middle of London, on incredibly short notice. So she's stuck with the super-rich, and the super-smart . . . and trying to fit in is when the rest of the students seem to be more glamorous, smarter, or more talented than she is, is more than tough. It's intimidating and isolating, even when she finds a friend in the conspiracy-theorist Caro Jackson - and perhaps finds something more than friendship in the gorgeous, mysterious Gabriel Swift. But there's more going on at Ravenwood than meets the eye. Practical jokes on new students are normal, but when Gabriel saves her from . . . something . . . . in the Highgate Cemetery, and then she discovers that a murder took place, just yards away from where she had been standing, April has to wonder if something more sinister is going on. . . . and whether or not she's going to live through it . . 

As soon as I discovered that this book was set in Highgate Cemetery I had to read it.  Highgate Cemetery is just one of those places that is a character in itself and one I am desperate to visit. This book did not disappoint in giving it its  own omnipresent character status, looming supernaturally over the whole story, shrouding it within darkness and weaving  ghostly threads throughout the whole book. 

This book has the creep factor, leaving you shivering at the thought of it. I loved the fact that it was a vampire book set in the UK for a change and I am really pleased to see that it can be pulled off and feels authentic. Mia James has managed to give this book a Gothic Victorian atmosphere in  modern day London. 

Mia is  a bit like Buffy but with a twist. This book is definitely more Buffy than Twilight. She begins the book as a typical teenager with all the anger against her parents for spoiling her social life. Yet as the book progresses, Mia has to do a lot of growing up very quickly, as events take a serious and sinister turn. 

Ravenwood has just as much presence as Highgate Cemetery and probably wouldn't be my first choice of school for my kids. Eeep! 

The tension within the story builds with each following chapters and you begin to feel a little fearful for Mia's safety. However Gabriel is on hand to sweep her off to safety and actually gives 'love conquers all' a whole new meaning. Definitely one to make your heart leap. Although I did struggle a bit with the instant love between them. 

This book has some surprising twists and turns throughout the book and as I neared the end, I began to panic as I could not see how it would end happily. So much seemed left unsaid and then...... Bam! The true identity of the murderer is revealed. Safe at last. 

I did enjoy reading this book and feel quite at home in its dark and stifling atmosphere. I am really looking forward to the second book in the series  'Darkness Falls' which comes out very soon. 


  1. Love Buffy!!! This sounds very exciting. Great review Viv :D

  2. Good to see you back.

    Like you anything involving Highgate Cemetry also appeals to me. Thanks for both a great review and the recommendation.

  3. Hope you had a good break! :)

    I've had this book on my shelf for over a year. I really need to get reading it soon! Love the sound of Buffy with a twist! :)

  4. The Victorian Gothic vampire, IMO, is much more interesting than the modern day YA vampires.

    This one sounds like it's in a great and creepy setting, too.

    Thanks for sharing.

  5. Animewookie - I really enjoyed it but I am not sure everyone else did.

    Petty Witter - aw thank you. I am such a fan of Highgate Cemetery!

    Leanna - the weather could have been better. We have had more sunshine since we came back.

    Bermudaonion - you definitely wouldn't like the book I am reading now!

    Laurel - it just gave it that Gothic touch.

  6. Loved this book. Wasn't as keen on the ending but can't wait for book 2. x

  7. This sounds like it is right up my alley. I always enjoy a good creepy story.

  8. Lovely review, Vivienne. I hear what you "say" but I must admit that the mentioning of instant love puts me off(I've read a bit too many of those lately).

  9. I am glad you enjoyed it :D
    I must say that I am not sure if I have heard of that place before I read the book..But afterwards it did seem nice and spooky

  10. I've read so many mixed reviews of this one...I guess I'm going to have to get round to it and find out myself! *Highgate Cemetry though kinda swings it* :D

  11. I love a good creepy story. I'll have to remember this one for the R.I.P. challenge!

  12. I love that you described it as a bit like Buffy and I'm loving that it's a vampire book set in the UK too!

    I completely agree with what you said about Highgate Cemetary. That place is incredible. The last book I read which revolved around Highgate was Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger and I wasn't too impressed with that so I'll be sure to keep an eye on this one. :)


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