March 19, 2023

BLOG TOUR Midnight Strikes by Zeba Shahnaz

Hi friends! I'm pleased to be hosting a stop on the tour organized by TBR and Beyond Tours for Midnight Strikes by Zeba Shahnaz. Check out the post to learn more about the book, the author, and how you can get your own copy., Make sure you show the other tour hosts some love as well - the link to the tour schedule is below. 

About the Book

In this explosive fantasy debut with a time-loop twist, a provincial girl must work with a roguish prince to stop an attack on the royal family and escape a nightmarish curse that forces them to relive the same night again and again.

Seventeen-year-old Anaïs just wants tonight to end. As an outsider at the kingdom’s glittering anniversary ball, she has no desire to rub shoulders with the nation’s most eligible (and pompous) bachelors—especially not the notoriously roguish Prince Leo. But at the stroke of midnight, an explosion rips through the palace, killing everyone in its path. Including her.

The last thing Anaïs sees is fire, smoke, chaos . . . and then she wakes up in her bedroom, hours before the ball. No one else remembers the deadly attack or believes her warnings of disaster.

Not even when it happens again. And again. And again.

If she’s going to escape this nightmarish time loop, Anaïs must take control of her own fate and stop the attack before it happens. But the court’s gilded surface belies a rotten core, full of restless nobles grabbing at power, discontented commoners itching for revolution, and even royals who secretly dream of taking the throne. It’s up to Anaïs to untangle these knots of deadly deceptions . . . if she can survive past midnight.

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indigo | IndieBound

REVIEW of Midnight Strikes by Zeva Shahnaz
Rating: 3 Stars
Release Date: March 14, 2023
Format: eBook (Courtesy of NetGalley and Publisher) + Audiobook (Borrowed from Library)
Publisher: Delacorte Press

*NOTE: Before I get into my review, please note that I’m unsure on how to do the accents for some of the names in the book (I’m typing on a tablet) so I’ve ultimately omitted them from the review. 

Charles Perrault’s Cinderella (or ‘Histoires ou contes du tempes passe’) is one of the most heavily retold and reimagined fairy tales of all time. As such, it takes a very unique spin on the tale to distinguish one version from all the others. Zeba Shahnaz’ young adult fantasy debut, Midnight Strikes, offers an incredibly unique take on the much beloved fairytale - instead of a countdown to happily ever after when the clock strikes midnight, Anais keeps dying at the ball over and over again. When the day continually resets, she’s the only one who remembers the previous night and she must quickly figure out what’s going on to prevent it from continuing and save the kingdom. 

The plot was a struggle for me. I really liked the time loop idea, but the story got repetitive very quickly. It takes multiple loops before Anais is able to get any real traction in solving the mystery of what’s been happening. I didn’t get invested in the story until the last ten chapters or so - it was entertaining but not particularly memorable. The romance was also weird - Anais and Leo’s relationship didn’t really make sense to me, given that he’s been forgetting her over and over and over again. Granted, it didn’t really make sense to Anais either, given that she made a point of not progressing their relationship past certain points when she knew Leo wouldn’t remember but it was still off putting.  

While the plot and romance was not memorable, I did enjoy the worldbuilding. The magic system was excellent. The systems employed by each cultural group (the upper class with their ‘nicer’ magic vs the blood magic used by the lower class) made for some juicy political intrigue. I was not expecting some of the reveals at the end of the book that went into more detail about the origins of the different magic, and that was super exciting. The culture seems to be inspired by places like Spain, with the king being referred to as “Rey” and other Spanish honorifics being used for the nobles at the ball. Those little hints really helped me imagine the setting the author described, and I would love to visit the places from the book (when they're not being blown up over and over again, of course).  

Overall, Midnight Strikes was an entertaining read with some minor issues. Narrator Nikki Massoud delivered a solid performance in the audiobook version of the tale. If you’re a fan of fairytale retellings intertwined with mystery and political intrigue, I think this book would be worth giving a chance. 

Thank you to the author, the publisher Delacorte Press, the team at TBR and Beyond Tours, and NetGalley for providing me with a complimentary review copy of the book as part of my participation in the blog tour. I appreciate the opportunity to read and review Midnight Strikes immensely. Please note - I voluntarily read and reviewed the book. All opinions expressed in the review are my own and not influenced in any way. 

About the Author

Zeba Shahnaz writes fantasy full of political intrigue, twisted romance, and a healthy dose of existential angst. A proud Pakistani-American, she translated her love of storytelling into a graduate degree analyzing national identity, culture, and cinema in South Asia. She grew up in New Jersey, which she has yet to fully escape (though not because of a time loop). MIDNIGHT STRIKES is her debut novel.


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