Who doesn’t love a good fairytale adaptation? It doesn’t matter what the setting is; we’ll eat the fairytale fantasy genre right up! And today, we have the pleasure of reviewing Zeba Shahnaz’s debut novel, Midnight Strikes!
As you can guess from the title alone, Midnight Strikes retells the iconic Cinderella story. But this time, there’s an incredible time loop weaved in! We get to dig into the royal court of Ivarea as our protagonist Anaïs finds her way out of this cursed time loop. Here are three things we love about Midnight Strikes by Zeba Shahnaz!
Content Warnings: death, murder, bombings, self-harm, suicide, torture, graphic violence, and gore (Read at your own discretion!)
Summary: Seventeen-year-old Anaïs just wants tonight to end. As an outsider at the kingdom’s glittering anniversary ball, she has no desire to rub shoulders with the nation’s most eligible (and pompous) bachelors—especially not the notoriously roguish Prince Leo. But at the stroke of midnight, an explosion rips through the palace, killing everyone in its path. Including her.
The last thing Anaïs sees is fire, smoke, chaos . . . and then she wakes up in her bedroom, hours before the ball. No one else remembers the deadly attack or believes her warnings of disaster.
Not even when it happens again. And again. And again.
If she’s going to escape this nightmarish time loop, Anaïs must take control of her own fate and stop the attack before it happens. But the court’s gilded surface belies a rotten core, full of restless nobles grabbing at power, discontented commoners itching for revolution, and even royals who secretly dream of taking the throne. It’s up to Anaïs to untangle these knots of deadly deceptions . . . if she can survive past midnight.
Whenever we read fantasies inspired by classic fairytales, we love comparing details. And Midnight Strikes is no ordinary Cinderella story! Even without two mean stepsisters, our protagonist and her people are discriminated against by the rest of high society. When the clock strikes twelve, the royal ball of a lifetime becomes a scene of destruction and bloodshed. As Anaïs tries to get Prince Leo’s help with every loop, her glass slipper turns into a childhood secret and some one-of-a-kind accessories. And we love how every reader’s interpretation of this story may vary!
The Elaborate Plot
Midnight Strikes had us hooked from the beginning of the first loop. There’s so much to uncover about Anaïs’ ancestors, the royal family, and political groups. It has a brilliant magic system, where some characters’ powers come from their fairy lineage. The history and all the lore are surprising to everyone, even our protagonist. The villain isn’t who you’d think it is, and the winding, looping plot (see what we did there?) was so much fun to read!
The Time Loop
We think the time loop deserves its own section. We haven’t read a story with a time loop in a long time, and Zeba Shahnaz executed it so well in Midnight Strikes! It didn’t feel repetitive or filled with holes because everything clicked together once we get more information with every loop. We could take breaks between reading each new loop, and the story still feels cohesive. Anaïs knew it was more important to gather information than to survive the bombing, and she never lost sight of her goal to save Ivarea and break the loop.
Midnight Strikes by Zeba Shahnaz is out March 14th and is available for preorder here!
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