Midnight Beauties by Megan Shepherd
Ever since she discovered her affinity for magic, seventeen-year-old Anouk has been desperate to become a witch. It’s the only way to save her friends who, like Anouk, are beasties: animals enchanted into humans. But unlike Anouk, the other beasties didn’t make it out of the battle at Montélimar in one piece.
With her friends now trapped in their animal forms, Anouk is forced into a sinister deal involving a political marriage with her sworn enemy, a wicked plot to overthrow London’s fiercest coven of witches, and a deadly trial of fire to become a witch. The price for power has always been steep in the world of the Haute. Now, it will cost Anouk everything.
Anouk has been in hiding since her friends were turned back into beasties. But her enemy, who holds her friends hostage, wants to make a deal. A danger far greater than their feud is approaching. And Anouk feels her best option is to face the deadly trial to become a witch.
Midnight Beauties is the sequel and conclusion to Grim Lovelies. With the characters established in the first installment, this was a more developed story – with a lot packed in. This YA dark fantasy is full of suspense, mystery, drama, and a bit of romance. In fact, I enjoyed Anouk’s interaction with bad boy Rennar much more than her loyal but dull Beau. There are so many fantastically complex and engaging characters. And this magical world feels unique. Shepherd is definitely a master of dark fantasy – her Madman’s Daughter series is a must-read. And this duology is a stunning story that builds to a dramatic finale that is over too soon.