Midnight Strikes, by Zeba Shahnaz, (March 2023, Delacorte Press), $19.99, ISBN: 9780593567555
Anaïs Aubanel is a 17-year-old member of a prominent Proensan family liviing in the Ivarean kingdom. Her people have been outsiders, considered the backwoods magic users of the kingdom, since the Ivareans colonized them, but her family presses her to make a good marriage match, bringing her to the royal anniversary ball to scope out her chances. At the stroke of midnight, bombs go off, killing everyone at the ball – and then Anaïs awakens in her own bed, sure it was a dream… until it happens again. Over the course of the novel, Anaïs must reconstruct each day and figure out how to stop the carnage before it begins; in doing so, she uncovers a nefarious plot with an unlikely puppetmaster pulling the strings. A rich fantasy, Shahnaz explores colonization and the intertwining roots of magic and faith. Anaïs is a character readers will cheer on; the supporting characters become more real with each moment revisited. A good choice for fantasy readers.