Midnight Beauties (ARC) by Megan Shepherd

The witches, beasties, goblins, and Royals return in this spellbinding conclusion to New York Times best-selling author Megan Shepherd’s Grim Lovelies duology, released in North America on August 13th, 2019. Wicked and delightful, this spellbinding sequel and conclusion to Grim Lovelies is perfect for fans of The Cruel Prince and The Hazel Wood.

DISCLAIMER: Thank-you to Raincoast Books for providing me with an Advance Readers’ Edition of Midnight Beauties by Megan Shepherd, in exchange for an honest review. 

Ever since she discovered her affinity for magic, seventeen-year-old Anouk has been desperate to become a witch. It’s the only way to save her friends who, like Anouk, are beasties: animals enchanted into humans. But unlike Anouk, the other beasties didn’t make it out of the battle at Montélimar in one piece. With her friends now trapped in their animal forms, Anouk is forced into a sinister deal involving a political marriage with her sworn enemy, a wicked plot to overthrow London’s fiercest coven of witches, and a deadly trial of fire to become a witch. The price for power has always been steep in the world of the Haute. Now, it will cost Anouk everything.

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Despite not loving the first book in Megan Shepherd’s Grim Lovelies duology, Grim Lovelies, I still found myself determined to read Midnight Beauties. And while the story-telling was still a bit scattered, readers will undoubtedly find Midnight Beauties to be a significant improvement over Grim Lovelies, with daring characters, a stunning setting, and plenty of danger.

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Midnight Beauties greatly improved upon the development of certain characters – in particular Anouk. In fact, Shepherd spent a significant portion of this novel delving into character growth and development, thoroughly challenging the characters to look into themselves and reflect upon who they are, and who they have become. In fact, it is worth mentioning that Anouk’s personal transformation is a central theme of the story, and a driving force behind many of the occurrences in Midnight Beauties. As a result, readers will surely find themselves falling head over heels for Anouk, who is such a wonderfully deep character, with so many hopes, dreams, fears, regrets, and emotions. Readers will be enthralled as they watch her go from timid and unsure of herself to strong and self assured. Overall, Anouk’s character development is hands down the best part of the Grim Lovelies duology.

“We’ve scrambled for our lives,” she said softly. “Now we have to scramble for our world.” – Megan Shepherd, Midnight Beauties

Furthermore, Shepherd’s writing style is absolutely beautiful, bringing the story to life in a way that is both ethereal and majestic at once. The world that Shepherd created in Midnight Beauties is one that any fan of the genre would love to disappear into – something that is entirely possible in the way that Shepherd’s lyrical and magical writing brings it to life. Beyond the world-building elements, Shepherd also thoroughly develops the magic system throughout Midnight Beauties, tying up many loose ends from the previous novel – though not quite revealing all, unfortunately. Finally, Shepherd’s plot for Midnight Beauties will have readers on edge the entire way through the story, as they navigate the many plot twists, harrowing adventures, and heart-wrenching romantic scenes. Unfortunately, Shepherd’s plot still feel a tad bit too erratic to simply be chalked up to well-planned plot twists, coming across instead as eccentric (at best) or erratic (at worst).

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Overall, readers will be enchanted by Megan Shepherd’s Midnight Lovelies. Anouk’s character development alone is enough to sweep readers off their feet. In addition, the world-building and magic systems are well-developed, something that almost makes up for Shepherd’s plot development, which despite her lyrical writing still feel erratic (4/5).

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