Illustrations – Ayesha L. Rubio
Born at midnight on the twelfth day of the twelfth month, Ema is the twelfth born child in her family. Unsurprisingly, twelves tend to follow Ema through her life.
‘There is something very troubling about the number twelve’
At twelve years old, Ema has yet to find her place in her scientific family. Màma is a meteorologist who can predict the weather with incredible accuracy. Her older siblings are skilled in various fields, including archaeology, anthropology and zoology. Ema absorbs all of the knowledge her siblings teach her but she doesn’t have her own socially acceptable scientific passion.
The great enigma of her life had presented itself: how was she ever supposed to understand a world that didn’t understand her?
What she does have is the ability to constantly surprise people with her presence, an acute awareness of shadows and a semi-regular sense of impending doom. And fears. Ema has her fair share of fears.
When her parents join one of her sisters on a research expedition, Ema is sent to stay with Josef, an uncle she’s never met, in the home where her “unmentionable grandmother had lived.” It is there that she meets Silvie. Silvie helps Ema confront her fears and introduces her to the wonders of nineteenth century Prague at midnight.
‘We will banish these fears of yours, but we will also banish the idea that normal is something worth striving for. I will make you proudly peculiar.’
Along the way, there’s a murder mystery to solve, secrets to uncover and an adorable bat to fall in love with.
I really liked Ema and her family but the standout character for me was Silvie. Silvie’s unbridled optimism was the perfect compliment to Ema’s “apocalyptic pessimism”. Her enthusiasm was contagious, her sense of adventure inspired me and she stole my heart. She also reintroduced me to ‘splendiferously’, which the people around me are going to ask me to stop saying any day now.
The Midnight Guild intrigued me and I desperately need to visit the Moonlight Garden.
I need a sequel for many reasons, the most pressing of which are to find out what’s next for Ema and Silvie, and to learn more about ‘Polter-granny’.
‘So, let’s go murderer-hunting, shall we?’
Thank you so much to NetGalley and Puffin, an imprint of Penguin Random House Children’s UK, for the opportunity to read this book.
Once Upon a Blurb
From the bestselling author of The Unadoptables, comes a stunning new story about a missing friend, a gothic city, and a secret society full of wonder, invention and maybe a hint of magic…
Find the courage to be extraordinary…
Ema Vašková has always felt different. In a family of famous scientists, there’s not much room for superstition or omens – but they seem to follow Ema wherever she goes. It doesn’t help that she appears to predict events before they happen, and has a peculiar fear of shadows…
When Ema is sent to stay with her eccentric uncle in Prague, she fears she’ll lose the chance to ever fit in. But then she meets Silvie – a girl who finally sees Ema for the extraordinary person that she is. Soon the girls are meeting for secret midnight adventures, and facing Ema’s fears together.
But then disaster strikes. Silvie goes missing – and it’s up to Ema to find her. Now she must gather the courage to hunt the city, find her friend, and uncover the secrets of the one clue Silvie left as to where she might be – inside the mysterious Midnight Guild…