Summary “The Midnight Bargain” (Polk)

What we enjoyed:

  • Period drama, main characters cool, especially Nadi great
  • Nadi a great spirit, very materialistic: “Give me cake!”
  • Very different than other books
  • Period drama with fantasy: refreshing
  • Really really enjoyable, “never read anything quite like it”
  • Collaring women, incredibly powerful image –> arranged marriage, give everything up to be just “wife” and “mother” –> all the vibrant things are gone
  • Also reminding us of Georgette Heyer (1902-1974)
  • Collar symbolism was a bit much for some
  • One of the characters chose to be a scholar, does not want a marriage etc.
  • Emancipation story combined with sexual desires (main protagonist)
  • Diverse depiction of women, feminist struggles
  • Traditional ideas of femininity vs. having a career –> negotiated in the novel in a smart way
  • Message also: look what women can do when they have the chance
  • Magic system cool; do magic with your whole being = breathe, focus, conjure spirits
  • Spirits and making bargains really cool
  • Interesting references to other countries; other countries superior to this “England”, power relations interesting; sec. world India interesting
  • Bridgerton Vibes
  • Realistic depiction of having a younger sister: strong bond but also competition
  • Nadi ❤ Annoying at first, then cute and fun
  • Ianthe’s sister cool
  • Feminist book with a clear agenda, it’s about having a feminist choice
  • Ianthe reminded us of the husband in Kowal’s novel: ally, side-character-ish? (Mirrors what women were in many novels, standing-by and being there for the protagonist)
  • “As a Buddhist, i found the portrayal of joy of embodiment really nice, which the spirits are after. The struggle with the childlike spirit resembles the relationship with the inner child we all have and it is solved nicely by the main character.”

What we discussed:

  • World-building weak in parts; very close to primary world; magic also sometimes unclear; card game??? –> Cricket, Poker? We are lost!!
  • Rushed ending, too much at once
  • Wedding not described, robbed us of the moment sadly –> some more pages would have been nice
  • Regency Era Style wasn’t for some of us (others really liked that)
  • Many male characters super annoying; hated them with all my heart
  • Women as breeding stock crass
  • Ianthe annoying and cool –> bit blunt; an ally but doesn’t check his privilege
  • Ianthe falling in love right away weird
  • “I hate instant love stories” –> Romance trope
  • Father unlikeable, patriarchal traits based on his own lack of success; pater familias when he is out of controle; disregarded his daughter –> cannot accept advice from his daughter
  • Harriet cool but also annoying, lacks depth; in the end: she gets what she wants; interest in pursuing magic cool; too young; her having a choice is nice
  • Some of us are not a fan of the romance aspects
  • Writing style hard for some of us (and Jane Austen too, so that might be the reason)

Other books we talked about:

  • Burroughs: “Cities of Red Night” –> Pirates 18th century, radioactive epidemic, detective –> Weird; very visceral
  • Rio: “If We Were villains” –> a bit like “Secret History”, we know who was killed but we don’t know why
  • Sanderson: “The Emperor’s Soul”: What makes a person? A forger is tasked to recreate the Emperor’s identity as he has been gravely injured by assassins. Great!! (Hugo Award Winner!)
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