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  • Writer's pictureNZ Booklovers

The Midnighters by Hanna Tooke

My grandchildren loved Hanna Tooke’s previous novel, The Unadoptables, and were keen to read her latest novel, The Midnighters. The striking blue and silver book cover with vivid and mysterious illustrations also drew them in.

Born at midnight on the twelfth day of the twelfth month, Ema Vašková, is the twelfth born child in her family. The number twelve continues to have an influence on her life and when she turns twelve, Ema experiences a huge change when she is sent to stay with her Uncle Josef, who she has never met. Ema, who has never found her place in her family- all remarkably focused and accomplished in science- and, as a result has worried about her inability to fit in, meets and befriends Sylvie who is adventurous and courageous and shows Ema there are considerations in life other than the fact-filled and pragmatic single-minded ideas of her family. Sylvie introduces Ema to the mysterious and magical world of Prague at midnight on the nights of the full moon but then she disappears. Ema must draw all of her courage and trust her own instincts and intuitions to find her.

Enchantingly set in 19th Century Prague, this is a beautifully written novel filled with mystery, illusion, and magic. Hanna Tooke is particularly talented at creating memorable characters and The Midnighters is crammed with them from the members of Ema’s family, the eccentric uncle, Sylvie and Ema, herself. I loved the way in which Ema is coaxed by Sylvie, then courageously grows into self-acceptance and courage and a belief in the world of magic and intuition.

So. Ten-year-old Grandson’s verdict. I liked the people and I liked reading about Praig.. ( Prahg… okay, Prahg…) and it was funny sometimes and a bit scary and the story was really exciting, can I keep it?

Reviewer: Paddy Richardson

Puffin Books


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