(See all my Book Reviews and Author Interviews) – This is the first publication by author Zeba Shahnaz https://zebashahnaz.com. Midnight Strikes was published in 2023. It is the 23rd book I completed reading in 2023.
I received an ARC of this book through https://www.netgalley.com with the expectation of a fair and honest review. Opinions expressed here are unbiased and entirely my own! Due to scenes of violence and mature language, I categorize this novel as R. The primary character is seventeen-year-old Anaïs.
She is reluctantly in the capital at the palace for the Anniversary Ball. Her mother is hopeful that she will find a husband. She just wants to go home. Her life takes a turn for the worst when, at the stroke of midnight, explosions, tear through the palace. Many are killed in the blast and ensuing fire. Armed troops swarm through the wreckage. Anaïs has but moments to take it all in before she dies.
The next thing Anaïs knows, she wakes up in her bedroom the afternoon before the ball. She dies again that night. And the night after. And for many more. She tries to warn others, but no one believes her. Anaïs begins to investigate during those short hours between waking up and the inevitable palace bombing.
Slowly she discovers many hidden facts. The royal court, the nobles, and commoners hide discontent and conspiracy. If Anaïs is ever to live beyond midnight, she must determine who is behind the bombing and stop the plot. She learns a little bit more each time she relives the day of the ball.
In the many repeated hours reliving the ball, she dances with and ultimately confides in Prince Leo. Over their repeated afternoons before the ball, the two collaborate to discover who is behind the attack. They also find themselves becoming entangled romantically.
I enjoyed the 13 hours I spent reading this 443-page young adult fantasy. The plot was enjoyable and had a few good twists. The chosen cover art is dark and dull, but it does imply the fantasy within. I give this novel a rating of 4.4 (rounded to 4) out of 5.
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