The Midnight Front by David Mack
Published by Tor Books on January 30, 2018
Series: Dark Arts #1
Genres: Ancient History, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Urban Fantasy
Length: 464 pages Source: PageHabit
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Captain America meets Lev Grossman's The Magicians Allied commando wizards fight their Nazi counterparts in World War II
It's World War II and Winston Churchill has enlisted a secret front of wizards to combat the dark forces aiding the Nazis in their bid for world conquest.
Cade Martin is the key. But Cade isn't the Chosen One. The Chosen One was murdered by the sorcerous fire of Axis operatives before he could come into his power. In the war to save the world from plunging into darkness, Cade Martin is Plan B.
Cade's teammates in the Midnight Front--magic users all--don't know what to make of him. Some don't trust him. But the stakes are higher than at any previous moment in human history, and the Midnight Front has no choice but to find a way to work together to somehow defeat Adolf Hitler's sorcerers before it's too late.
The Midnight Front is a thrilling, emotionally charged, action-packed tour-de-force.
When I pulled The Midnight Front out of my TBR Jar, I was soooo not into it. I looked at the cover and groaned and told myself “I should just donate this one now, I don’t want to read it.” Which is horribly unfair to the author, by the way, but I got it in my PageHabit box months ago and was only vaguely interested in it then. The author largely writes for pre-established series like Star Trek and while that can be a dream job, I guess, I’ve found that it doesn’t always pan over to quality of work.
I know, I’m the worst, I’m so judgmental.
You know what? I did read it, though, from cover to cover. And some of it was so good. Like… surprisingly good, hold on while I swoon over your writing style good… and then I ended up skimming over the last hundred pages.
So here’s what The Midnight Front did well, and what fell short for me.
It’s been such a long time since I’ve read proper adult fantasy, I’d largely forgotten about the amazing world-building that usually goes hand-in-hand with it. I have complete respect for YA fantasy authors and their world-building, but damn. Some adult fantasy worlds are really amazing. That was the case with the first half of The Midnight Front. The setting and time period (WII) was really well-established. The magic system. The magic system was intricate and amazing and yeah, there was this whole lengthy training montage thing in the beginning, but I appreciated it so much. We learned so much about the world and the way they called up demons and the horrible tolls it takes to weird magic.
I am big on this one, guys. Magic should never come for free. And it should do more than just making you tired. If there’s not a physical cost, there better be a mental, emotional, or cultural cost. Just saying.
The pacing of the book was never fantastic. It was really slow, but I allowed it because the world-building was carefully done. David Mack insists on taking the reader through the whole of the war and all sorts of sacrifices and in the middle, you really feel like it’s all leading up to something. It’s a slow train gently picking up speed until you’re moving so fast towards the climax of the story you’re going to crash into it like a brick wall.
But then… the moment comes. That moment everything has been building up to arrives, and it is so anti-climatic. The whole thing happens in a page. And you’re like “okay, so it’s done.”
Then David Mack laughs at your and carries on for another 78 pages of philosophical reasoning. I skimmed a lot through the end, because I was done even if the author wasn’t… but one of the characters died near the end and it felt like it came out of nowhere? Just like… there’s another book in the series and the character wasn’t useful anymore, so in one scene he had a cough and in the next they were at his funeral even though he was about three-hundred years old and had been doing great until just then?
The end and how it all fell apart for me really turned this from a really interesting book with slow pacing to a bore for me. the first 75% was fantastic, though. Really it was.
The Midnight Front Goes to the Graveyard
This book is just fine and all – really – but I won’t be reading it again. I feel like it took so much energy to get through and since the ending didn’t pay out for me, it really didn’t seem worth it. I actually was all up and arms ready to be a fan of this series until page 364-ish? Then I got really really bored and now I don’t think I’ll even go on to book two. The author let me down in his storytelling style and I just don’t want to put that much time and effort into a story only to have the same thing happen the second time.
And if I won’t go on to book two, why would I reread book one?