Review: Midnight Magic by Nancy Di Fabbio
Fourteen-year-old Mattie is obsessed with horses. Thrilled to discover a primitive painting of a beautiful black horse hidden in the attic of her grandmother’s home, it is not long before Mattie realizes the image of the painted horse seems to be coming to life. This is no ordinary work of art-this is a painting with a fascinating history that Mattie is about to unearth. One moonlit night, Mattie leaves the safety of her grandmother’s home and ventures deep into the surrounding forest where she meets a wild horse who bears an uncanny resemblance to the one in her painting. Mattie and her mystery horse form a bond that she instinctively knows she cannot reveal to anyone. The mysterious spirit who inhabits the painting seems to gain strength as Mattie’s bond with the wild horse deepens. But Mattie is uneasy as she wonders-and fears-if the two are somehow connected. Mattie soon realizes she should have heeded her grandmother’s warnings to be careful what she wishes for in life-for it is one thing to hope her painted horse is real and quite another to discover he might be.
Midnight Magic is a twist on the classic horse books that captured my heart as a nine year old, and it is made into something entirely different. With Gothic undertones and spooky imagery, the story was unexpected and easy to read.
When the spirit of a horse is captured and locked inside a painting he must steal the soul of a young girl in order to secure his immortality and be freed. The soul he finds in the awkward and somewhat whiny character of Mattie. Described as a fourteen year old with a bushy mane that resembled a real pony’s tail, freckles and feeling short, fat and unattractive, Mattie is a typical teen with typical insecurities. However, undergoes her own transformation that she had so desperately wanted as she begins to gain confidence from the strong bond she forms with the horse . . . but she soon learns to be “Careful what you wish for”.
This was a good young – young adult book, maybe even more suited for some middle grade readers. I kept thinking of Oscar Wilde’s Dorian Gray, not that the writing was similar, although the author does a lovely job of setting the mood and describing things, but because of the general message. Underneath it all, Mattie wants all those material things that most teens want, and the horse wants his own immortality. When you focus only on selfish gains the outcome is rarely a happy one. I’d like to think that if Oscar Wilde had written a children’s horse story it might have been like this. :)