New Book Nook: Midnight Horizon Closes Out The High Republic Phase One With a Slow-Burn Mystery

This review was originally posted on The Geeky Waffle and has been reposted here with permission.

How do you bolster readers enough to stop weeping over their faves and move forward? Obviously there’s no easy answer to that question, but one way might be to give them a compelling, slow-burn mystery ride, which is exactly what Daniel José Older has done with Midnight Horizon.

Set concurrently with both Mission to Disaster and The Fallen Star, the story follows Jedi Masters Cohmac Vitus and Kantam Sy, as well as Padawans Reath Silas and Ram Jomaram on a mission to the Core world of Corellia. Ostensibly, they are going to simply investigate a mysterious message that was sent their way. But once they meet local business owner, security expert, and slightly chaotic teenager Alys “Crash” Ongwa, they find themselves embroiled in a much bigger plot to destabilize the Republic than they had initially realized.

With Midnight Horizon, Older brings his signature effortless humour to what might otherwise have been a very heavy, stressful adventure. After the non-stop (understandeable) tension of The Fallen Star, it made for a nice change of pace to have these moments of levity, even while at the back of your mind, you know everything is not going to be alright for the massive cast of characters we’ve come to love over the last year and a bit. 

The central mystery is a delightful slow-burn. It shares the same kind of film-noir vibe as the High Republic’s Trail of Shadows comic series (also by Older), as both are set largely in urban environments and touch on many genre staples that we haven’t seen much of in this era, such as a criminal underworld, an urban nightlife, etc. It mixes expected Star Wars elements, such as the Nihil and the criminal underworld, with a subtle but scathing commentary on the lengths some will go to in order to justify their xenophobia. 

And yet somehow, with several threads of mystery flying about at any given moment, Older found time to include not one but three love stories. Three queer love stories at that, none of which rely on tragic endings that force the characters to grow. While one is told through flashback, the other two are set in the present day and are full of hope that these crazy kids might just find a way to make it work in an unforgiving galaxy. Colour my sappy romantic heart absolutely delighted. Maybe not all Star Wars is tragic romance after all.

I mentioned above that this novel is set concurrently to the two others being released in Wave 3. This is a slight departure from previous waves, where the Young Adult novel was set a few months after the key event, and featured the characters processing whatever had just happened. While we’re unlikely to get those answers for quite some time, Midnight Horizon provides the perfect venue for readers to process it, as tucked in amidst the mystery and the romance is a remarkably sincere treatise on grief and loss and the various ways in which we all process it. It’s catharsis wrapped in an adventurous package.

With only a few comic issues and one manga volume left in the first wave, Midnight Horizon feels like the perfect grand finale to Phase One, ending on a perfect lead in to the next phase of stories coming this October.

Mission to Disaster is out February 1, 2022. Special thanks to Disney Books for the advance copy for review purposes.

***

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