Review: The Midnight Library

If you had a chance to "fix" your life by changing decisions you made, would you? Matt Haig gives Nora Seed that chance — a happy life and redemption for perceived past mistakes — in The Midnight Library, and the outcome will change the way you see your own life.

More importantly, Haig understands depression, and demonstrates that to his readers on every page. As humans navigate through the real-life terror of a raging global pandemic — and, in America, an unprecedented threat to the foundation of our once-lauded government — we face uncertainty and fear. That, and the unknown future, have stressed every aspect of society. Many are struggling, and are facing mental challenges and mental illness. Haig personifies such challenges with respect and empathy.

While no one has a flawless life absent of regret, Nora's life is — well, a complete mess. She has opportunities in her life to excel, learn, take adventures, connect with other people, but she turns away from them all, living a life with regrets stacked too high to see around.

One day it all comes to a head: one too many failures, disconnects, and reminders of all of her bad decisions that led her to being alone, broke, and abandoned by friends and family. At this breaking point, she encounters the Midnight Library and an unexpected guide.

The Midnight Library is between, perched on the cusp of what if. There, she has an opportunity to explore the path not taken, the different lives that she thinks would give her the joy and peace she so desperately wants. Where would she be today?What would she be today? Can her life be saved, fixed, made livable? And how does she choose the right life? She faces infinite choices in the Midnight Library — but not infinite time.

Wishes are dangerous things, as every fairy tale horror story has shown. Readers follow her as she tries on lives she discarded along the way. We feel her surprise, shock, discomfort, and longing, relief, and sadness.

The characters are richly drawn, especially Nora. As the book unfolds, so do her supporting cast of characters, all with a specific role and lesson to be learned — if only she would learn it.

I have read numerous other books by this author, and enjoyed them all in very different ways. Let me be clear: I don't always like his stories and how they unspool — but I am glad Haig has written them, and I'm glad to have read them. His storytelling is heavy on character development, which I enjoy, and he is precise and honest. (If you haven't read The Humans, put it on your TBR pile immediately.) 

I came to the book with little information, so for me the details were new and fresh; I enjoyed the surprises that afforded me. I recommend the same for anyone who wants to experience Nora's situation alongside her, learning as she goes. 

It was a difficult, but enjoyable read, and I applaud this latest novel by an author I enjoy and trust. If you've read this, let me know what you think: leave a comment or contact me!