The Midnight Orchestra (ARC Review)

Book Title: The Midnight Orchestra
Author: Jessica Khoury
Release Date: June 14th, 2022
Genres: Middle Grade, Music, Magic, Fantasy
My rating: 4.75/5 Stars

Synopsis:

In this spellbinding sequel to The Mystwick School of Musicraft, Amelia must master the magic of Composing to help her school win a magic competition—and save her friends from a mysterious evil.

Things are finally looking up for Amelia Jones: she’s officially a Mystwick student, and she even has a teacher to help her learn how to use her rare Composing magic. When Mystwick enters an international magic competition, it’s Amelia’s chance to Compose something that will help them win the day. The only problem is that she still doesn’t understand how her powers work. But then she hears about a super exclusive Midnight Orchestra—half performance, half magical black market—and Amelia is sure that’s where she’ll find the answer to her Composing problem.

But the Midnight Orchestra is far more sinister than it initially appears and if Amelia can’t unlock her Composing powers, not only will Mystwick lose the musicraft competition, she won’t be able to rescue her friends from the danger unleashed in this thrilling adventure. 

My Review:

The Midnight Orchestra was one of my most anticipated reads of 2022 after I read and adored the first book in the fall of 2020. I wasn’t aware there was going to be a sequel after finishing it, though, so I was so thrilled when I learned of this one! The Mystwick world is beautifully developed with such a unique magic system, and there’s so much that can be done with this series. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for Amelia and her friends after the closing of this amazing book! 

Usually, I try to reread books if I’m reading sequels so I can have the first one fresh in my mind. I unfortunately didn’t have enough time to reread at the moment, so I decided to try The Midnight Orchestra, and if I was completely lost, I’d set it aside. This is because I’ve found that having no recollection of previous novels in a series can really ruin the enjoyment of the sequels, and I did not want to do that with this one. Surprisingly though, I remembered a lot more than I thought I would, and what I couldn’t quite recall, the book did a little rehash on, which was extremely helpful.

The Midnight Orchestra picks up almost immediately after the events of the first book, so Amelia still hasn’t learned how to control her Composing power, which is a lot of what this story focuses on. Composing is directly correlated to the emotions the caster is feeling, so a big part of the story is Amelia working through her emotions and examining how past events have affected her. She has a lot of unexamined trauma surrounding her father’s abandonment, and watching her emotional journey as she channeled those feelings into her music, while also being scared of them, was really well done. It brought a more somber feel to the book, while still keeping plenty of light-hearted and exciting moments.

Just as in the first book, the friendships in this one were lovely! Jai is such a good and supportive friend, who’s also really hilarious. I just love his humor. Several times he had me laughing out loud! The relationship between Darby and Amelia was also further explored, and while rocky at times because of a certain surprise, it really showed the strong bond these two share.

Mia was an interesting addition. If there were any indications in the last book that she’d be making an appearance here, I either missed it or didn’t pick up on it. It added a fascinating twist the story and a little bit of drama, while never taking away from Amelia’s journey. Mia definitely got on my nerves from time to time, and while I understand her motives now because of the ending, I still think she took it too far. Still, I can sympathize with her and see where she was coming from, so I’m not too annoyed about it.

Throughout the Midnight Orchestra, there were several plot twists and reveals, and I was so excited when I figured almost all of them out. I know most people like being surprised and are unsatisfied when they guess the big reveal. However, I always feel so accomplished that I was able to follow the clues that lead me there, so I didn’t mind the predictability of it. Even with the more apparent parts, there were still a lot of complexities that were added and explored. I think the unfolding of the events was done excellently. Even though I’d figured out what was going on, the way it was uncovered was done so well that I was too focused on being excited I guessed it right and impressed with the way it all unfolded to worry about predictability.

The only thing about this story that really bothered me was Amelia’s aversion to adult help. It’s one thing to be worried about involving the adults because of repercussions, but Amelia would instead harp on the fact that adults would just take over the situation and would always insist on knowing more. I worry about this portrayal because younger people should never be afraid to go to the adults in their life for help, or reluctant to for that matter. Reading books like this and hearing the main character complain about how adults will warp any situation could impress upon children in the wrong way. I feel we should always encourage younger people to seek help when they need it, and the way it was depicted here didn’t bring that across at all.

All that aside though, I absolutely loved this sequel. The adventures and mishaps Amelia and her crew find themselves in were delightful to witness! I also cannot get over how amazing the magic system in this world is. It would have never occurred to me to create a magic system that relies on musical instruments to cast spells, but I adore this concept! It’s explored so well, and the entire school is skillfully developed. Mystwick is a world I would love to visit and explore.

Overall, The Midnight Orchestra did not disappoint! It had all the same characters and adventures from book one, while still being its own unique story. I’m always worried about sequels when I loved the first one as much as I loved the Mystwick School of Musicraft, but The Midnight Orchestra was just as strong and wonderful. If you haven’t tried out this magically delightful middle grade series, I highly recommend it!

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a digital ARC in exchange for my honest opinion!

Pre-order it at: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Audible

Check out my last blog post: Once Upon a K-Prom (ARC Review)

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