Okay, she’s not a debut author, but she is new to me! When I learned that she’d written a book in the True Colors Crime Series, I knew The Black Midnight would be my first Y’Barbo book. Come on. Pinkertons, Jack the Ripper, and Queen Victoria??? Count me in!
NOTE: I’m only three chapters into this book, but I have to say that I love her writing style and the characterization alone are awesome. I sneaked a peek at the author’s notes on her research, and LOVE that she draws her own conclusions based on what she discovered. Usually, that means some seriously good research. Oh, and Alice Anne calling Queen Victoria “Granny”? Too adorable.
So, since I flubbed a deadline and HAVE to write tonight, what I’m doing is putting the podcast episode I did about this series below and you can listen to just the bit about why I wanted to read this book or you can listen to my take on the first three episodes of the series by skipping to 28:46ish
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Why I LOVE The Black Midnight & This New Author
Okay, I’ll be honest. There are flaws with this book. There. I said it. The ending is a bit rushed, there are a few inconsistencies, the royalty aspect (which I was really excited about) was interesting but stretched the suspension of disbelief, and the way the “we don’t know what happened” was handled… eeeeh.. not so much.
Okay, now that I got the honest criticism out of the way, how about we talk characters? Loved them. Queen Victoria cracked me up. I love when people write her as a person instead of just a personage. Y’Barbo DID.
What about settings? Great! I loved that the author both gave Austin, Texas its best setting possible (snow!) while acknowledging that the actual snowfall was a year before or behind (can’t recall which). That kind of transparency makes storytelling so much better!. We can accept it if we’re not expected to ignore fact without acknowledgment.
I think what I loved most about the book was that the author didn’t try to create conclusions that would alter history while presenting possibilities that, if proven, would. Add to that the sheer fun of juxtaposing Victorian London with Austin, Texas and two crimes that could have been connected, and you have a book you don’t want to put down.
If you enjoy true crime stories, Jack the Ripper stories, and clean fiction without the gore that usually goes with both of those, I think Kathleen Y’Barbo’s The Black Midnight is perfect for you. Not recommended for people who expect every historical reference to any person or event to be perfectly verifiable. This is a novel and is presented as one.