Midnight Strikes

Delacorte. Mar. 2023. 448p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9780593567555.
Gr 9 Up–In this debut, 17-year-old Anaïs wants to survive the final Ivarean ball of the season, and return to her quiet life, preferably in her home country, Proensa. Instead, explosions decimate the royal family and bullets end her own life until she wakes up again—on the same day. Anaïs is constantly drawn to Infante Leopoldo, the Prince everyone discounts as Leo the Lush. She enlists his help while also struggling to save him. Additional support comes from her childhood best friend Gaspard, and keen socialite Jacinthe, who’s close to the royal family and tuned into the discontent against them. Anaïs questions if she’s cursed or blessed as she relives each day only to die at the end, fleetingly wondering if magic could save her. Proensan blood magic is seen as inferior to Ivarean magic, which is more innate and connected to Saints. Anaïs grows as a character, as do her relationships with others as she learns of their hidden depths. There is a mix of cultures depicted; many characters and locations in Ivarea have Spanish names. Prejudice is brought up as citizens of the conquered country of Proensa are thought of as barbarians and biracial Gaspard is seen as a less desirable match. Shahnaz has created an entire world of rich cultures and history, including oppression by the government which has the common people speaking out for change. As each day starts over, the chapter starts at one again, one of many clever cues readers will enjoy in this time-loop novel as Anaïs strives to make it to the next day.
VERDICT A perfect choice for fans of second chances, also third, fourth, etc.

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