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Midnight Crystal
by Jayne Castle
(Jove, $7.99, PG-13) ISBN 978-0-515-14836-7
****
The third book in the Dreamlight Trilogy, Midnight Crystal is a mix of detective novel and fantasy.

Midnight Crystal follows Adam Winters, the new boss of the Frequency City Ghost Hunters Guild and Marlowe Jones, the new boss of Jones & Jones, a detective agency that has always been run by the Joneses. The Jones family are of the Arcane clan and they are the sworn enemies of the Winter's family and of the Guild clan. Think Montagues and Capulets, in the future, on an alien planet now populated with humans with different 'talents.'

Marlowe is a highly skilled Dream Print reader, which means she can basically read people very well, as well as their dreams. Adam needs her to help him work the Burning Lamp, a legendary lamp forged by his ancestor Nicholas Winters that can save a member of the Winters clan who has inherited the 'family curse' from going insane.

Complicated? You betcha.

Anyway, Marlowe and Adam find that they must work together when they discover that a) the lamp was stolen, b) someone is trying to kill Adam, c) Adam's sister is lost in the alien catacombs that lie underneath the city of Frequency and d) the energy that keeps Frequency going is starting to warp, and if it is not fixed soon, it'll take out most of the city and its inhabitants.

Along with the assistance of Marlowe's 'dust bunny' partner, Gibson, the three of them begin trying to solve the mystery of the Burning Lamp and of the assassination attempts on Adam. In the mean time, they have to stay one step ahead of the assassins and of Adam and Marlowe's ever-growing feelings for each other.

Perhaps if I had read books one and two, book three would have been a little easier to swallow. I find it distracting when I am pulled out of a book constantly because I am trying to decipher the made-up words that substitute for actual English words so that a fantasy novel can sound...well...more fantastic. I found myself getting distracted easily and I had a hard time picturing certain parts of the story due to my lack of background knowledge. A key would have been a huge help.

Adam and Marlowe are both interesting people and I enjoyed reading about their escapades, even when I didn't always completely understand what was going on. Adam is a mix of all-business tough guy and sexy wise-cracking bad boy. Marlowe is a mix of all-business detective and sexy biker chick. Together they make a formidable team. As a couple, they work well together, and communicate effectively.

As for the steamier parts of the novel, I couldn't fully buy them. I didn't feel like there was enough sexual build up to make the 'love' part of this love story explosive. The chemistry between them, for me at least, was rather pleasant and expected instead of "Wow!" I would have preferred wow, especially from these two powerhouses.

Gibson, Marlowe's dust bunny sidekick, is awesome. He's a mix of furry adorable, and badass fighting machine. Plus, he has an affinity for energy bars and shiny wrappers. He's the kind of furry sidekick anyone would like to have. He can communicate effectively in his own little language, and he's got your back in a fight.

As for the setting, well, I couldn't really see it in my mind's eye, which I think speaks for itself. Perhaps if I had read the first two novels, then I would have had an easier time picturing the city of Frequency.

The mystery novel portion of the story line is very well done and the ending is totally unexpected, the way a good mystery should be. For this reason alone, I would recommend Midnight Crystal.

All in all, I found the story entertaining and I enjoyed the characters, even if I was rather confused as to the back story and to the particular quirks that made Frequency the city that it is. Regardless, I would still recommend Midnight Crystal, but with the recommendation that you read Fired Up and Burning Lamp, the two novels that precede Midnight Crystal in the Dreamlight Trilogy, first.

--Lindsey Seddon


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