The Midnight Land by EP Clark is a long, slow paced book. It follows the physical and emotional journey of Slava in a Russian inspired setting which is beautifully rendered by the author.
In summary, I found the premise intriguing, and enjoyed the interactions with various magical animals, especially the unique leshaya. However, I found it difficult to connect with the heroine and her journey. The story doesn’t really go anywhere, and the plot is bogged down with repetitive description and introspection.
There is a huge cast of characters, many with similarly difficult sounding names. I found it a distraction from the story, as I frequently had to read a sentence or paragraph twice to make sure I had interpreted the correct character. Slava herself is well-developed and is a reasonably likeable heroine, however she is quite passive most of the time.
The pace of the story is slow. Too slow for my liking. And the book is too long for the slight plot.
The language is almost literary, but is also quite repetitive. Both in actual words and phrases used, as well as in description of everything, especially Slava’s introspection. The narrative voice is consistent. The dialogue matches description and introspection in its almost literal feel. It reads like a book that was written a century or two ago.
The settings in the book are beautifully described and are quite unique. I had no trouble imagining the scenes as we travelled from the big city Kremlin to desolate tundra.
The Midnight Land is certainly a distinctive book in the sea of fast paced, action filled coming-of-age fiction that we are more used to reading. It’s enjoyable enough to read once you settle into the slow pace and language.