Under Midnight Lights is the sequel to the romantic & ballet obsessed Under Winter Lights, but brings a lot more heartache to the forefront that its predecessor.
I have wanted this sequel ever since I finished the first book & I was certainly not disappointed! Bree has grown as a writer & managed to write something incredibly intense & heart breaking. The sequel had a very different feel from the first book but concluded the story in an amazing way.
Some spoilers included, but nothing too extreme!
Under Midnight Lights started off by reminding me just how vile Alan Jung, the school principal(?), is and my skin was crawling within seconds. On reflection I feel this was an excellent way to open the book considering how it ends; I’m unsure if Bree did this purposely but it’s a small detail that I really appreciated. This first scene with Jung very quickly pulled me back into life at The Bellus & I was instantly reminded of all the creepy things Jung had done during the first book – little did I know that it was about to get a whole lot worse.
In my review of the first book I stated that the story was very strongly revolved around ballet, but I feel the sequel was more focused on emotions & therefore, it had a totally different feel to it. I had absolutely no idea what kind of emotional anguish I was exposing myself to with this read, but boy, did I cry! Although we obviously still have many scenes that involve dancing, Under Midnight Lights centralises on Martina & Maraav’s heartache & desire for one another, & this was written exceptionally well. We get a lot of detail about how the couple are feeling & how difficult their lives have become because of Alan Jung.
As with the first book there is a lot of writing detailing the desire Martina feels for Maraav & I really want to congratulate Bree on these passages of writing – Bree has managed to write very honestly about how desire races through a woman’s body, but in a way that isn’t crude, uncomfortable or inappropriate. The emotions in this book were also written & addressed in a much more mature way than the first, & I think this is again something Bree should be congratulated on as it highlights how much Martina has grown as a person during her time at The Bellus.
Despite the book’s focus on emotion, it also focused on educating about ballet & its history. Bree included a lot of interesting pieces of history in Under Midnight Lights & I think this just shows how passionate she personally is about dancing; there’s little facts about the pieces of music being used & the dances being danced that only a true lover of ballet could know, & for me this really adds to the charm of the book.
Importantly though, Bree doesn’t just write about ballet as if it is wholly good; instead she highlights how tiring & taxing this particular form of dance can be on it’s dancers & included some very upsetting scenes in the book. There’s one particular scene that left me very worried about Martina, & left me very angry at some of the ideology that exists within the ballet world. Anyone who has seen Black Swan will have some idea about the fact that ballet has a dark side, but Black Swan is, in some ways, very over-dramatic – Under Midnight Lights is not. Bree has been very honest about the darker sides of her passion & I think it’s so important that she included this – it may not have been easy for her to admit that something that she revolves her life around can be so damaging but she still wrote about it, & for that I hugely respect her.
The end of Under Midnight Lights was very dramatic & unexpected, & forced me to read as quickly as possible! It was something that both books had been leading up to but was still very surprising; I do wish that it could have been a bit longer though, because I think after so much of a build up that part of the story deserved a few more pages. Despite the fact that this particular scene had been built up to in both books, it was still a huge plot twist as I wasn’t expecting anything quite as dramatic.
To sum up, this book was actually quite different from what I expected – it had a totally different feel from the first book but was still very much part of the same story & ended the tale of Martina & Maraav at The Bellus very well. Bree’s writing has also vastly improved since the first book & I know that she has a few projects on the go at the moment so I can’t wait to read whatever she releases next!!