“My heartbeat is your heartbeat, my breath is your breath, my soul is your soul, until my heart ceases to eat, and my breath at last runs out, and my soul passes on.”
Midnight, the third book in the Dance with the Devil series by Megan Derr, is by far the most compelling, satisfying and breathtakingly beautiful of the series thus far. For this review, I would like to unpack this stunning novel piece by piece, using those three adjectives as my guide. So come with me and meet some characters that will push you to the limits of your patience, provoke within you some fearful anxiety, and leave you with a sense of heartwarming love.
Midnight is a compelling story.
In this, the third installment of the Dance with the Devil series, Derr once again thrusts us back into the world she has so adroitly created where “normals” and all other manner of creatures live side by side. However, rather than giving us episodic “case files” and a paranormal version of a “gumshoe” detective, Midnight focuses on the story of one man, the eleventh Duke of Winter, Lord Devlin White.
By his own admission he is a “Nightwalker” (one who walks the earth at night and sleeps when the sun is up) by choice and not by necessity, for Devlin is also a witch who wields his power through the use of runes. If you find your self getting confused, please hang in with me. This story is well worth it! Devlin’s companion is a draugr—a living, breathing, corpse whose white skin and midnight blue hair and fingernails are the only indication that “Midnight” is not a fully living man. He is the reason for Devlin’s being a nightwalker—for the sun hurts Midnight and would eventually kill him.
As this incredible story unfolds, we find out that Devlin first saw Midnight as a homeless child of six and was inexorably drawn to him. While on a mission to rid a town of draugr’s (the walking dead who feed on the blood of normals) he discovers the child has been killed. He races to a friend of the family—a necromancer and vampire, Ceadda. With Ceadda’s help, Devlin binds the child to himself—and as the quote indicates above—they will remain so until one or the other dies, in turn, causing the other to die as well.
Midnight grows into a beautiful young man, who falls hopelessly in love with Devlin. Devlin, while loving Midnight, systematically avoids giving into his emotions, fearing that Midnight loves him only because he has never tasted of love with anyone else. In other words, Devlin is concerned that Midnight is “settling’ for Devlin, a distant second best lover. Oh how wrong Devlin turns out to be on this one!
Midnight is a draugr with a soul, with the ability to love, and this makes him highly desirable to those who would look to live an immortal life. He rarely needs blood to survive and when he does he takes it from Devlin himself. Midnight is a rare type of draugr—one of a kind and evil men are drawn to him. If they can unlock the secrets that Devlin and Ceadda hold in how such a draugr as Midnight is made, they could have a life lived beyond the snare of death.
Never once, in the novel did I turn the page and think when will this end, this is so involved, so fantastical a story. Oh no, dear reader, instead I was gripped by every word—this incredibly well drawn and planned out world that Derr created houses some of the most fascinating creatures!
I was captured by her ability to draw characters that moved me, that I genuinely cared about, that made me laugh. Berra, manservant to Devlin, a mixed wolf/elf that falls in love with a Knight of Avalon, Neirin who is accompanied by a dragon who shape shifts, Troyes. This threesome make up one of the most interesting secondary character triangles I have ever read—and could have a review written about them all on their own.
I was so fascinated by the idea of draugrs, nightwalkers, necromancy—all of it and how well these beings fit together and seemed so at home in this world that Derr had birthed from that fertile imagination of hers. Rather than feel lost or confused by the endless cast of characters, as I read, the world made more and more sense and began to feel real, like a place I would like to visit, to be able to interact with these compelling men and women.
Midnight is breathtakingly beautiful.
Not only is the novel beautifully written with lush backdrops and stunning beings, but the character of Midnight, well, he, in a word, is breathtaking. He is sensitive, sweet, and so very in love with Devlin, they complete one another, they are each other’s reason for existing, even beyond the spell that binds the one to the other. Their regard of each other, their love for each other, is what makes the bones of this novel work. When Devlin is trapped and taken prisoner by a ghost who desires to transform his own corpse into a powerful draugr, the intensity with which Midnight pursues finding him is not only believable but the climax of the novel.
Midnight is satisfying.
I cannot say enough about this novel and the tight story line. Each character was needed — they added to the plot, they were fully fleshed out and you knew what made them tick, what drove them, whom they loved and whom they abhorred. While it is a dense novel, long in length and very involved character-wise, the story thread remains clear throughout, even as more and more characters and subplots are added on. I was never lost, never uninterested in the story, never bored! I admired Devlin, and his desire to keep Midnight from just “settling” but as time went on I, like Midnight, became frustrated with Devlin’s hard headedness over his hesitancy about telling Midnight how he felt. The resolve of that dilemma was of the most satisfying kind—trust me, dear reader, you will want to read it for yourself!
In the end, I learned a great deal from this novel. Perhaps the best advice a person could be given is found in Derr’s own words:
“Sometimes life does not go according to the plans we make, or those made for us. When faced with the unexpected, a man can choose to bemoan his fate and do nothing, or accept it and forge the new path offered.”
And so Devlin and Midnight do—forge a new path—and we, the readers are all the better for it! Midnight by Megan Derr is a 5 star read. I highly recommend it to you!