I first stumbled onto ‘Midnight at Spanish Gardens’ on a book review site, and was so intrigued I had to buy it there and then. Now on with the review.
Written by Alma Alexander, Midnight at Spanish Gardens is not the kind of story that fits neatly into a pigeon hole. The writing is beautiful, almost poetic, yet it never forgets that it is meant to be prose, or that it has a story to tell. So based on the quality of the writing, and the fact the story is set in modern times, I could easily describe Spanish Gardens as contemporary literature.
Yet as I read on, I discovered that the mysterious bartender named Ariel is somehow sending the five main characters back in time to live the lives they might have lived if things had been… different.
How do I describe that? Contemporary metaphysical fantasy literature?
Yet even that convoluted category doesn’t accurately describe Midnight at Spanish Gardens, because how the main characters come to relive their lives is less important than what they do with those second chances. Or the choices they make when Ariel calls them back. Will they choose the first life? Or will they choose the new life they have made? Sadly, they cannot choose both.
For some of the characters, their new lives are better than the old, happier, more fulfilled. For others, their new lives turn out to be more successful in some ways, but ultimately devoid of meaning in others. Yet the story of these lives, and the choices the characters make is no morality play. Rather it is the tender exploration of what makes all of us human, without judgment, and without condemnation.
Whether the character is male or female, each one feels real and intensely believable. Some I liked more than others, but each one touched me deeply, and in my opinion, that is a psychological tour de force.
So what is Midnight at Spanish Gardens? Psychological metaphysical contemporary fantasy literature?
Nope. 😀 The book is much simpler than that – it is nothing more nor less than a work of art.
If Midnight at Spanish Gardens contained even a smidgeon of science fiction I’d give it 11/10. As it is I can only give it a 10.
Joking aside, I truly loved this book, and I promise, hand on heart, that if you read it you will not be disappointed.