Colleen Mondor Reviews Shattered Midnight by Dhonielle Clayton

Shattered Midnight, Dhonielle Clayton (Hy­perion 978-1-368-04642-8, $17.99, hc, 304pp) January 2022.

The Mirror series, which began with Julie C. Dao’s Broken Wish in 2020, continues with Shattered Midnight by Dhonielle Clayton. Set in New Orleans in 1928, it is full of historic atmo­sphere, immersing readers in the sights, sounds, and flavors of the city that Zara Broussard now calls home. There is a great sense of foreboding, however, both from the alluded-to magical event that caused Zara to flee her Harlem home, and the difficult path she must navigate as a Black woman in the South. As the reader ponders what went wrong in New York, Shattered Midnight reveals that it is a story about the choices Zara must make in Louisiana, choices about who she loves, how she lives, and whether or not her magic should be embraced or cast aside.

While there are references to the events and characters of Broken Wish in the novel (some more subtle than others), Shattered Midnight is thoroughly focused on Zara’s world. As an aspir­ing jazz singer, she struggles to keep the peace in her new home with a demanding aunt and mean girl cousins, while secretly pursuing her dream by sneaking out at night. The easy thing would be to do what her aunt wants and marry the exceedingly eligible young man presented at a family party. But Zara has met someone else, someone with whom romance is forbidden, and does not want to give up him or her budding career. The bigger problem is her magic and the target it has painted on her back. Trying to keep everyone happy and safe seems impossible in New Orleans, and so Zara must make the biggest choice of all, even if it means losing everything.

The strength of Shattered Midnight is all the many nuances to Zara’s life, which are explored in big ways and small as the magical plot picks up steam. Clayton excels at creating intelligent, intriguing characters, and she does a lot here even with the supporting figures, especially Zara’s aunt and cousins. Also, in the midst of the larger story is some sharp comedy of manners that gives added depth to the decisions Zara must make, and why she swings so hard for her dreams. There are also hints at the relationships between the two books, which will be explored more in the next installment, J.C. Cervantes’ Fractured Path, this summer.

Colleen Mondor, Contributing Editor, is a writer, historian, and reviewer who co-owns an aircraft leasing company with her husband. She is the author of “The Map of My Dead Pilots: The Dangerous Game of Flying in Alaska” and reviews regularly for the ALA’s Booklist. Currently at work on a book about the 1932 Mt. McKinley Cosmic Ray Expedition, she and her family reside in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska. More info can be found on her website:

This review and more like it in the March 2022 issue of Locus.

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