The Midnight Bargain

The Midnight Bargain

Book - 2020 | First US edition.
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In a romantic fantasy set in a magical Regency England, a sorceress must balance magic-ending familial duty with her ambition to become her world's first great sorceress.
Publisher: New York : Erewhon, 2020.
Edition: First US edition.
ISBN: 9781645660071
Characteristics: 375 pages ; 23 cm

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d
dirtbag
Jun 14, 2021

A Canada Reads book. This is the most interesting story of the bunch but it is certainly not the best written. First year that I didn't like any of the Canada Reads books.

k
kmeckelberger
Jun 07, 2021

Only three short months ago I read my first C.L. Polk novel, and now they are firmly cemented on my list of favorite authors. Polk's only standalone novel, The Midnight Bargain falls between high fantasy and historical fantasy. Set in a world and time similar to Regency England, sorceresses are in high demand during the bargaining season when marriages are negotiated. However, once a sorceress is married, a collar is placed around her neck to protect the pregnancy from spirits. Her worth is not in her abilities, but in having magical sons. Beatrice Claybourn does not wish to submit to a life without magic or freedom. Beatrice finds a grimoire that will help her become a mage and allies herself with a spirit to make it happen. When she meets a man, with whom she can be her true self, Beatrice struggles with the decision of becoming a mage and breaking up her family, and marrying a man she loves and giving up her magic and freedom.

Polk writes with such details and atmosphere that the story comes alive on the pages. Not just a story of romance and magic, this book deals with themes of sexism, feminism, and the power of female friendships. I cannot recommend this book enough. Fans of historical fantasy will love this book.

c
clgeorge
May 13, 2021

loved it and I think the theme of 2 strong heroines rejecting society's expectation that women happily sacrifice their dreams and their innate gifts so that men can have it all on the backs of women being held back, controlled, and shoved into narrow roles will resonate strongly with a female reader. Beatrice's story was happily played out to a satisfying conclusion and the door is left open for future books to tell the story of friend Ysbeta or younger sibling Harriet in this intriguing romantic fantasy world of magic users.

t
TEENREVIEWBOARD
Apr 21, 2021

I thoroughly enjoyed this fantasy adventure in which a sorceress must choose between the dream she’s wanted since childhood and love.

I must admit I was somewhat frustrated by the love interest’s inability to understand how truly impossible this situation was, but if anything it enhanced the story, because the setting is a patriarchal society that cruelly removes a woman’s magic when she marries. As a man, he was raised with the worldview that such barbaric measures may be necessary, but he was easily swayed to her point of view, which was refreshing.

In addition, the heartwarming friendships and complicated societal pressures made this thoroughly entertaining and interesting to read, and I’m happy I did. Beatrice and Ysbeta both represent the most amazing parts of friendship—having someone by your side no matter what. 4/5 stars
@Robin of the Hamilton Public Library's Teen Review Board

a
AureliaReads
Apr 02, 2021

Found this very tedious and the writing kind of ---- clumsy and trying too hard. The first 50 pages repeat over and over that she wants to be a sorceress and that society is very unfair to block women from doing this, as if the author thinks readers won't grasp the concept the 3rd or 4th -- or 7th time it is explained. The fantasy world of fancy ball gowns and handsome beaux was equally tedious. A book for preteen readers ?

r
rixonkj
Mar 17, 2021

I've seen the author describe this book as "Pokemon, but make it Jane Austen," which is a delightful pitch for a delightful book. It's quite feminist, with two lovely sibling relationships and some painfully true commentary on women's rights. Strong recommend!

A warm fantasy romance quite worthy of the read, set in 19th century worldly settings, but with magic, sumptuous clothing, and righteous womanhood.

Kris--Pt. Roberts

Stéphanie_biblio Mar 10, 2021

This book is like a Jane Austen novel with magic...and feminism. Wonderful read. It is the equivalent of a light and delicate pastry for the mind.

STPL_JessH Mar 02, 2021

A book that begins with an argument over a magical book?! Yes, please! This is a bit like Belgravia with undercurrents of sorcery. It is an alternate reality where photos of young eligible women hang in a portrait gallery at the beginning of "Bargaining Season" which is exactly what you think it is. There is quite a bit of social commentary around women's rights and what it means to give up gifts and talents in order to marry. It's a fast read with lots of detail. So, if you enjoy historical regency fiction, then check it out!

a
Activevoice
Feb 24, 2021

I must admit if this book had not been part of the CBC Canada Reads list of five books I would never have read the novel. Having said that it was certainly well written, lots of action, and the fantasy regency world was intricately and well described. Would I read another? No.

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