The Midnight Work
On my own time I read a lot of Fantasy and I’ve recently gotten into vampire tales as well. Given this background, I’ve seen an awful lot of weirdness, but nothing I’ve come across can even begin to touch this book. While the author has a lot of creative ideas, they never really flow together smoothly and the result is a book that will have readers scratching their heads wondering what in the world they just read.
Sophie feels a connection to her online chat friend Olivier and agrees to meet him. In person, they have instant rapport and Olivier turns Sophie into a vampire very early in the story, resulting in a period of adjustment to her new life. Unlike many vampire heroes and heroines, Sophie and her friends very easily grow accustomed to seeing human beings as a somewhat expendable food source. This violence and the protagonists’ rather nonchalant attitude toward it is a recurring motif in the book – and one that some readers may not feel comfortable reading about.
After Sophie’s “turning”, the plot of the story primarily revolves around Sophie’s evolving relationship with Olivier, her adjustments to the vampire life, and her quest to find a friend and roommate who has mysteriously disappeared. Sophie’s interest in the Cathars, a medieval French sect persecuted by the Catholics, plays heavily into her life as a vampire, as do many of the traditional myths regarding fairies (not the innocent and fun variety either).
Though the story is technically supposed to be a romance, the romantic elements are downplayed quite a bit here. Sophie and Olivier have a relationship, but it is not the sole focus of the story. Much time is spent dealing with Sophie’s various friends, Olivier’s connections, and the history and mythology behind all of them. While the many layers of this story give it an interesting flavor, the execution is rather sloppy. Much attention is given to snappy dialogue and not so much to making sure the story flows evenly and makes sense. The story has a choppy feel and it is very easy to get lost in the dense middle of the book. In addition, the editing (at least in my ARC) is not of high quality. The author frequently misuses punctuation and the concept of homophones ( “there” vs. “their” vs. “they’re”) seems to have been utterly lost on both author and editor.
While Sophie and Olivier have plenty of “encounters” (to put it mildly), they just don’t seem to have a lot of chemistry. It is hard to believe in a relationship when their conversations and time together feels stilted rather than flirty – or even natural. Since the emotional bond between them just does not seem convincing, their relationship doesn’t ring true.
There are many who bemoan the old-fashioned personalities of contemporary heroines, but Sophie and her friends definitely seem modern. Their snarky humor and way of living is not anachronistic in the least and some will appreciate that. However, the cattiness and self-centered qualities they display may put many readers off as well. At times I found the sarcasm a little funny, but I can honestly say I didn’t actually like a single character in this book. As a reader who enjoys identifying with characters, that was a little off-putitng.
Simms has some unique ideas and definitely has her own voice, but better organization and more attention to the emotional side of her characters would have added a lot to this book. This author has the potential to deliver books that will appeal to someone looking for something a little outside the norm. However, The Midnight Work just has too many problems to merit a recommendation.