Frighteningly Good Read: The Midnight Hour by Ben Read and Laura Trinder

This middle grade fantasy had a fantastic cast of characters and a strong female lead! The mystery and the mythology had my flipping page after page to the delightful ending!


For fans of portal fantasies like Jessica Townsend’s Nevermoor, Colin Meloy’s Wildwood, and The Spiderwick Chronicles by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black, and unlike so many other fantasies that introduce readers to a world of enchantment and wonder, The Midnight Hour is one filled with beasts and monsters for readers looking to shine their flashlights under the covers.

When strange late-night letters start arriving at home, Emily’s parents set off to investigate. But when her parents disappear completely and Emily is left home alone to face the weird strangers that begin to appear at her door, she takes all of the clues at her disposal and makes for the place where the letters came from — the mysterious Night Post. What she’ll discover is the secret world of the Midnight Hour — a Victorian London frozen in time, full of magic and monsters.

Kept safe by an age-old agreement, the Night Folk have been exiled to a parallel world that can only be accessed by a selected few, including the mail carriers of the infamous Night Post that operate between the two worlds. Emily’s parents are key players in keeping the Night Folk safe, but when the division of the two worlds is threatened, Emily must search for her parents while navigating this dark and unknown version of London. from Goodreads.

A purple sunset features the silhouette of Big Ben with tentacles and creature arms reaching toward the center.


First thing’s first: how to get rid of the parents? Every middle grade book seems to believe that this is the first step. For fun, I’ve even created a bingo board of methods. This book ticks at least three different boxes and I could even add one, “lost in a parallel universe.”

Left to her own devices, Emily has to strike out on her own to solve the riddle of what has happened to her parents. Accepting that she has absolutely zero other trusting adults in her life was a leap of faith made easier by the fact that this book is a fantasy. Somehow, it seems acceptable for a child to riffle through their parents personal objects and set out through London at night on their own if the book is fantasy. If set in reality, I would like to think that Emily’s parents would make a slightly more concerted effort to provide her some adult support or supervision.

While this book may stumble a bit in the child endangerment regard, the authors absolutely nailed the character of Emily. As a pre-teen, Emily is beginning to really struggle in her relationship with her parents. Emily is defiant, determined, and unwavering in her quest to find her parents. Emily may not have many adult to rely upon but she certainly has strong self-advocacy skills to fall back upon. I know a lot of little girls who struggle with this facet of life and I will love introducing them to Emily in years to come.

All in all, I genuinely loved this story. Emily finds herself surrounded by a plethora of interesting and immensely likable characters. She stumbles, she makes mistakes, and she relies upon her intelligence to solve problems. As good rallies together to fight evil I was found myself reading faster and faster. And when it was all over, I just didn’t want to leave this world.

Tell me, please! Who is your favorite middle grade female protagonist?


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