Thursday, February 27, 2020

Book Review: The Second Midnight

I have so many reviews that I need to finish before our big move so be prepared to see quite a few! Fortunately I seem to be all over in genres so there really will be something for everyone here!
The Second Midnight - Andrew Taylor
A secret mission…
1939. As Europe teeters on the brink of war, Alfred Kendall is tasked with carrying out a minor mission for the British Intelligence Service. Travelling to Prague, he takes his troubled young son, Hugh, as cover.

A terrible choice…
When Hitler invades Czechoslovakia, Alfred is given an ultimatum by the Czech Resistance. They will arrange for him to return to England, but only if he leaves his son Hugh behind as collateral.

A young boy stranded in Nazi terrain…
Hugh is soon taken under the wing of a Nazi colonel – Helmuth Scholl. But even though Scholl treats Hugh well, his son, Heinz, is suspicious of this foreigner. And as the war across the continent intensifies, they are set on a path that will ultimately lead towards destruction…

I am not normally a historical fiction fan, but I wanted to read this because having this kind of story told through the eyes of a child sounded really interesting. It absolutely was, but not without a few bumps.

Imagine being a father and having to abandon your son to save your life... most of us would tell someone to pound sand because who knows what would end up happening to them. Not Hugh's dad, Alfred readily hands him over and is basically gone in the wind. (Granted, it isn't like they had some tight bond, Hugh wasn't the easiest kid but still... I can't imagine making that choice, myself) Hugh is now trying to survive in Nazi territory, essentially alone.

So much happens in this story so I can't really give you a whole lot without spoiling some key moments, but here are the pros and cons:


  • I really enjoyed the author's writing, it felt true to the WWII era and at times I felt like all of this was really happening. I appreciate that it was able to transport me at times. 
  • The espionage piece of this was actually really good and kept me interested and that's noteworthy because sometimes that's boring for me and I space out but I genuinely wanted to know what was going to happen with Hugh and all of the other characters that come through. 
  • I firmly believe that a good thriller cannot have characters you love, and this one follows that. None of these characters were ones I particularly liked, they all had flaws but it really pulled the story together and made you believe people were just trying to survive this horrific time. 
  • If you want a story that is layer after layer of complications, a little bit of romance, family dysfunction, etc. 


  • At times I would put the book down and have a hard time picking it back up. I felt like you really had to be in the right mindset to read it. 
  • The beginning of the book featured some time with Hugh and his sister Meg and that was... uncomfortable at best. It's not quite Flowers in the Attic level but it definitely isn't what I would want my kids doing. 
  • I do feel a good chunk of the book could/should have been edited out. It finishes at a little over 400 pages which is over my usual limit of 300 for time sake and some of it was just fluff that we didn't really need and didn't really add to the greater story. It would have been OK without it. 

Overall? I'm going to give this one a 2.5 star, rounded to 3 for Goodreads. It was an OK book but I think if you are a fan of historical fiction or WWII themed books you will enjoy this one far more.
A huge thank you to Harper Collins for having me on this tour and sending me an advanced copy! All thoughts are my own and this post contains affiliate links. 


Erica Metcalf said...

Aw I hate when you put a book down and have a hard time picking it back up. I'm feeling that way with the Agatha Christie book I'm reading now... I think I just picked a bad time to try her work.

Shooting Stars Mag said...

I do like WWII fiction, but this one sounds a bit too long for my liking - since it's not all necessary. It does have a great premise though. And seriously, what father just leaves his kid behind??