In Midnight’s Silence by T. Frohock

(mild spoilers)

When I first heard of Frohock’s Nefilim books, I was rather intrigued from the get go. The Spanish Civil War is not a hugely common fantasy setting and I do – admittedly with a few cautions – like books that use Abrahamic lore (if that’s the term I want). I’ve always found the concept of the Nephilim intriguing.

In Midnight’s Silence is also intriguing. But I start writing this review a little unsure whether it’s more than that.

What it definitely is, is incredibly well-written. There is a smooth, compelling flow to the words; character is established quickly through actions and showing; there is a strong sense of place and time throughout. It’s the prose equivalent of a perfect brownie; rich in flavour and easy to devour.

The story itself is harder to place, but what I can say is I never liked the story as much as the writing.

Diago, the hero of this story, is going about a somewhat mundane existence as a piano teacher to spoiled brats when a mysterious stranger leaves a box alluding to a past mistake. Soon Diago is racing through Barcelona’s streets to save his boyfriend – but not quite soon enough for me, I think. Somewhere in the first few chapters, the Narrative Momentum Express pulls out of the station and I’m not on it. I’m not utterly sure why. There’s no failure of craft or expectation. I have to say, that after two fairly recent failures to give a hoot about protagonists in books I was excited for, I’m wondering whether it’s simply that I need a break from fantasy. Although I most note that the side characters seem to have more strongly defined characters than the central ones, which doesn’t help.

One small thing eating away at me is whether my reaction to In Midnight’s Silence isn’t part of having read about well over half of the sourcebooks for White Wolf’s Old World of Darkness and done a bunch of play by forum for the various lines. The whole set-up feels very cliché urban fantasy to me, which I don’t think is even true of urban fantasy unless that’s your entry-point. But shadowy organisations of people with feet in two worlds, sort of like our oldest tales but given dark twists, trying to interfere with the great events of human society, that’s something with which I have a history. Particularly when there’s magic to make mortals forget and very arrogant higher ups. I don’t know whether this contributed to my lack of getting hooked into this story but it seems likely. I think my expectations were for a twist on Urban Fantasy as I know it and instead I got it more or less exactly as I knew it.

In general, I end this review only a little more clear as to whether I think In Midnight’s Silence is more than an intriguing premise (with fantastic writing). I feel like the big question is always “how do you feel about reading the next book?” Well, I am unsure. Diago, Miguel and Rafael are pleasant but there is no leading question about what happens next in their lives I must know. But it could be good. So that’s a maybe. The wider worldbuilding leaves me cold, so that’s a no. But, I still want to read more of Frohock’s writing. So that’s a yes. Which, together, equals confusion

In short, I am stumped.

Hopefully you’ll be less confused about whether you in on In Midnight’s Silence.

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