Almost Midnight by C.C. Hunter
Series: Shadow Falls: After Dark (Anthology)
Published by St. Martin’s Griffin on February 2, 2016
Genres: [YA] Paranormal
Format: Paperback, ARC
3.5 Stars, Completed February 7, 2016
– SPOILERS ahead –
Almost Midnight is a collection of all the short stories C.C. Hunter has previously published as ebook novellas and companions for both the original series, Shadow Falls, and the spinoff, Shadow Falls: After Dark. The only new addition that readers have not had a chance to purchase and read was “Fierce.” (Actually, I believe it’s an Almost Midnight special so you can’t purchase it on its own.) Like most anthologies I’ve reviewed so far, I’ll be reviewing each short story on it’s own and the overall rating will reflect the average between the five novellas.
“Turned at Dark” (Shadow Falls #0.5) – 2 Stars, Completed February 2, 2016
I have to confess that I loved the Shadow Falls: After Dark spin off series so much more than the original series, Shadow Falls, solely because of Della. I simply adore her sass and independence; she’s definitely one of my all time favorite female ya heroines (and I have very few of those). She’s only half Chinese but I thought her character depicted Asian characters realistically, which is very rare in ya literature and I appreciated that tiny breakthrough. (I really hope more ya literature will have well executed diverse characters!) In the Shadow Falls series, readers get the impression that Della thought the vampires were the best supernatural race (but each race thought they were superior) but, even so, sometimes there were cracks to Della’s stubborn facade. Readers recognized she had regrets from her human life and resented her vampiric powers overall. And the reason to this was because she wasn’t born vampire but rather was a carrier of the viral strain for the vampiric gene and turned into one once the gene was activated. In “Turned at Dusk” we’re finally revealed what she was like before and during the change. For me, I was disappointed because it didn’t really stand out among other human to vampire transition stories I’ve read. Also, I was expecting Chan, her vampire cousin, to have a greater role than he did in helping her through the transition.
“Saved at Sunrise” (Shadow Falls #4.5) – 5 Stars, Completed February 2, 2016
This was probably my most highly anticipated story to read in Almost Midnight. It was eluded in both Shadow Falls series that much more happened between Della and Steve when they were sent out on a dangerous mission for the FRU. Being a such a huge fangirl of the pair (though I later became a Della and Chase shipper in the spinoff arc of the series) I absolutely relished every scene in this novella. I always admired how Steve was a guy that cherished Della, which was something she deserved after having been pushed away time and time again by people that she thought loved her at one point. Not to mention, if you know me well, my favorite part of a fictional romantic relationship in books are the initial meeting.
“Unbreakable” (Shadow Falls: After Dark #0.5) – 3 Stars, Completed February 5, 2016
I didn’t even realize this short story existed until I read it. In Shadow Falls: After Dark readers learn that Chase had a pretty rough upbringing in his later years after a fatal plane crash killed his entire family and girlfriend. He only had his dog, Baxter, and the wealth his father, a doctor, left behind. This is an arc that a lot of stories seem to take and as many times as I’ve read these type of stories, I have yet to find the one I truly felt connected or emotionally sad over. I mean I can imagine there’s unspeakable pain, resentment, and guilt to be the only survivor. But like the others I’ve read, I felt nothing with Chase’s story. But I did enjoy “Unbreakable” for how it was written in a more middle school perspective (Chase was fourteen at the time) compared to the rest of the stories and both the Shadow Falls series. I also really liked how Shadow Falls: After Dark fans were able to have more insight behind why Chase believed “Never turn your back on a challenge” so ardently.
“Spellbinder” (Shadow Falls: After Dark #2.5) – 3.5 Stars, Completed June 21, 2015
This was the only Shadow Falls novella I read before Almost Midnight because after realizing this bind-up would be released in 2016, I made an effort not to pick up the other short stories (even when I was experiencing Shadow Falls withdrawal after finishing the series in 2014 and the spin off one in 2015) since I like reading most of my books non-electronically. I didn’t reread “Spellbinder” because it was the longest short story in the anthology. However, if you want to read my full review simply click here.
“Fierce” (Shadow Falls: After Dark #3.5) – 4 Stars, Completed February 7, 2016
Leading up to the release of Almost Midnight “Fierce” was supposed to be a surprise novella and bonus where readers weren’t given a clue to what it was going to be about. And it ended up being on Fredericka Lakota. It’s been so long since I’ve read Shadow Falls but I vaguely remembered her being Kylie’s antithesis in the original series. I think C.C. Hunter had a premonition that most of her readers wouldn’t remember Fredericka, so she did add some background fillers to remind us all who Fredericka was. “Fierce” is probably the most up to date story on any part of the Shadow Falls world and it focused more on Federicka than the rest of the usual Shadow Falls cast, but surprisingly, I ended up finding it very entertaining to read and one of the better stories in the bind-up. I don’t want to go into detail with the plot for this one or add any spoilers, so I’ll leave it a surprise for those of you planning to pick up Almost Midnight.
Almost Midnight – 3.5 Stars, Completed February 7, 2016
In all, I found this anthology a great companion for readers that adore the Shadow Falls and Shadow Falls: After Dark series. I do want to point out that readers that plan to read each novella individually in the electronic format should take note of what number the novella is and where it lies in terms of events for both Shadow Falls series so they aren’t ruined by spoilers. Of the stories in Almost Midnight, I’d say I highly recommend “Saved at Sunrise” and that it’s a must read for Della fans. And even if you’ve bought each novella separately, Almost Midnight is worth it and a great investment just for the “Fierce” story alone.
Special thanks to St. Martin’s Griffin for providing me this review copy of Almost Midnight. In no way did this affect my reading experience or honest review.