Sunday, March 18, 2012

Midnighters: The Secret Hour by Scott Westerfeld

Midnighters: The Secret Hour

Author: Scott Westerfeld

Publisher: Eos

4 out of 5 stars

Tick tock.  It’s starting.  You glance over at your clock, midnight, just as usual.  The second, minute, and hour hand are all frozen in time, pointing straight up to the number twelve.  They’ll be like that for quite some time.  For an hour to be exact, giving you more than enough time to splash in the raindrops that dot the sky, or walk around as if you were the only one left on Earth.  But there are many things that inhabit the secret hour.  You are not alone.  The original nightmares are still alive and well, and they want to play.

Jessica Day is the new girl in Bixby, Oklahoma.  Moving from the windy city of Chicago, the small town life of Bixby is completely different.  With the stressful move, advanced classes, and new town, things are going to take some time to get used to.  Luckily, Jessica has an extra hour to do just that.

The first time it happened, Jessica didn’t know quite what was going on.  She assumed it was just some dream.  However, with the help of her mysterious new friends, she learns that it was no dream… it was real.  Jessica is one of them, the ones they call “Midnighters.”  Every night when the clock strikes midnight, time stops.  Whether someone was driving home, or sleeping in their bed they are frozen for an hour.  The twenty-fifth hour.  While the rest of the population is stopped in time, the Midnighters and the creatures of the night come out, and it’s not pretty.

Until Jessica came to town, the dark creatures that inspire nightmares left the Midnighters alone.  But Jessica’s arrival is stirring up creatures older than time itself.  With the help of the other Midnighters, Jessica must do her best to adapt to her new life, and figure out what her power is.  Will Jessica be able to survive the extra hour, or will she die trying?  All is revealed in Scott Westerfeld’s heart-stopping tale of one girl’s fight against arcane forces that lurk in the shadows in, Midnighters: The Secret Hour!

Midnighters: The Secret Hour takes place in the darkest hours of the night, and gives off a vibe of unfathomable creatures and unimaginable possibilities.  There is a constant air of mystery, as the Midnighters don’t know what exactly they’re dealing with.  Caution to those who dare to read this book in the wee hours of the morning.  I tried to read this at midnight, but I ended up saving it for the safety of the daylight.

The beauty of having the world to yourself for an hour was both a blessing and a curse.  There were moments where Jess saw how lucky she was to experience the simple joys that few got the chance to.  The first time Jess experienced the secret hour she splashed in the frozen rain, with raindrops suspended in the middle of the air.  When the leaves were blowing in the wind, with just a touch of her finger she could set them falling to the ground again.  However, Jess also had to live a nightmare over and over again, as she raced from beasts that were very real despite how dreamlike the entire thing was.

The interesting mix of magic, lore, and powers, made Midnighters: The Secret Hour unique.  The secret hour had its own set of rules that I learned along with Jess.  Only “new technology” could hurt the creatures that inhabited the secret hour, such as steel, as they had grown accustomed to things such as fire.  The number thirteen, and multiples of thirteen, also repelled the beasts.  The Midnighters also learned that tridecalogisms, thirteen letter words, held power as well.  The laws of the secret hour gave it a feeling of both arcane power mixed with modern technology.

Jess wasn’t quite like the other Midnighters.  Many of the other Midnighters were sensitive to sunlight, and were the outcasts of the school.  Throughout Midnighters: The Secret Hour I didn’t get to know some of the Midnighters very well, but my favorites would be Dess, who has a knack with numbers and a sarcastic, dry humor, and Jonathan, who was an easygoing troublemaker with a constant craving for food.  Though these teens had extraordinary powers and had to deal with more than the average teenager’s problems, there were times when I was reminded that they were still just kids.

The secret hour in which the Midnighters thrived in was so unique, that I wish I had gotten to learn even more about it throughout the book.  It was difficult to learn all there was about the mysterious twenty-fifth hour, as the Midnighters themselves didn’t know everything there was to know.  Also, there was a sense of secrecy, and not all of the Midnighters got along very well, so everything wasn’t always put out there.  It felt as if the Midnighters were running blindly from something they didn’t even understand.  Hopefully I’ll learn more about the Midnighters’ strange predicament in book two of the trilogy, Midnighters: Touching Darkness.

Midnighters: The Secret Hour was both strikingly beautiful but also terrifyingly menacing.  The Midnighters have to face daunting creatures that want nothing more than to get rid of them, all the while trying to blend in and live some type of “normal” life.  Join Jess as she tries to discover the secrets of the twenty-fifth hour in, Midnighters: The Secret Hour!

-This is T.B. with Another Book Back on the Shelf…
Until Next Time, Keep Reading!

Check out Scott Westerfeld's website at


  1. I don't know about this one. Even during the day this one might haunt me at night. I usually still have company at midnight but at 3am when I'm the only one awake, I might get an overactive imagination. And I have pretty colorful nightmares. I think I'll just read your terrific reviews on this series. I haven't heard of it at all. Great as always, Tessa!


  2. Love Scott Westerfeld, and I haven't read this one yet, but it's on my list! Thanks for sharing! New Follower btw :)


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