REVIEW: Breaking Midnight by Emma Holly
Dear Ms. Holly:
When I first decided to read and review your latest upyr trilogy, I had the idea that I would write a single review of all three books together. Two paragraphs in, I realized I was going to need more space than a single review allowed.
Breaking Midnight begins shortly after the ending of the first. While Edmund was attempting to come to terms with himself and his relationship with Estelle, he is suddenly gifted with enough power to transition to Elder. During this transition, he is captured by Li-Hua and Frank, two unpredictable and very dangerous vampires. Li-Hua and Frank chain him up, torture and starve him in an attempt to learn the secrets that only Elders know: how to change a human into an upyr.
Meanwhile, Estelle, Sally, Graham and Ben are doing their best to look for Edmund. One night, Estelle dreams that she’s with Edmund, although a thinner Edmund than she’s used to. After a few more dream visits, Estelle begins to realize that these aren’t simple dreams at all. Despite her best efforts, she struggles to uncover clues as to his location.
After closing Kissing Midnight, I was a little concerned where the second book would go. I wasn’t sure I could take more of just the Edmund/Estelle and Sally/Ben relationships. Thankfully, book two introduces Pen Anderson, the daughter of Graham’s former boss at MI5. Pen’s a prickly, independent young woman. Although she has always liked Graham, she doesn’t really think all that highly of him either. Convinced that Graham needs her help in finding Edmund, she thrusts herself into the middle of the FitzClare family crisis regardless of whether anyone actually wants said help.
But Graham isn’t the same reliable, mild young man anymore. Believing that the best way to help find his father is to become upyr, Graham turns to Edmund’s biological son Robin for help. The change to vampire creates subtle but compelling differences with Graham: he’s taller, better looking, more commanding, and more confident. And what he doesn’t need or want is his former boss’s annoying daughter involving herself in Fitz Clare business.
Like the other relationships, there’s not much anticipation or build up before Graham and Pen are jumping in bed. Or, rather, on the floor of a train. Together, Pen and Graham find in each other the perfect sexual partner. They can express their desires and needs to each other in ways they having never been able to share with anyone else. Outside of bed is another story. When not tearing each other’s clothes off, Pen and Graham are two very guarded individuals. Trust doesn’t come easily for either of them. Pen is a bit of a mystery in book two, but for Graham, he is still dealing with the betrayal from his handler at MI5 and how easily he was fooled into turning against his father.
Breaking Midnight also introduces Durand, rogue upyr and mercenary. Durand somehow ended up working for Li-Hua and Frank, and is assigned to guard Edmund. Durand is an odd combination of honorable and ruthless. It’s that hint of honor which is at odds with his current employment. I liked this mysterious upyr quite a bit. In fact, whenever the point of view shifted back to Edmund, it was about Durand I was more interested in reading.
Of the three, Breaking Midnight was the most difficult to finish, and the one that took the longest. Perhaps that’s because I found Edmund’s angst at the end of the first book and his subsequent capture a little contrived. For me, his imprisonment by these two vampires was a little hard to follow for an entire book. Breaking Midnight also features the rather convenient dream waking scenes so that Estelle is able to pin point Edmund’s location and narrow the search. Of course, it also allows them to have sex even while they’re thousands of miles apart. I probably could have done without the latter. By the second book, Estelle and Edmund had become my least favorite couple and that’s including the icky brother sister Ben/Sally pairing. It’s not that I disliked them. I just found them rather tedious. I was glad that you shifted the book’s focus to Graham and Penelope and looked forward to learning more about where their relationship would progress.