(Disclaimer: English is my second language, so I want to apologize in advance for there may be mistakes in the text below. If you find any, please let me know so that I can correct it. I'd really appreciate it. Thanks.)
Review Soundtrack: I suggest reading this review while listening to The Nefilim, by Mark Dwane (Spotify, YouTube).
I am really glad that electronic edition has brought as a consequence a revival of the novella format. I have not as much time to read as I used to and I really appreciate it when an author is able to tell a story in less than two hundred pages instead of producing volume after volume of artificially padded sagas. Another interesting possibility, that we are beginning to see more and more, is the publication of a series of linked novellas or even the serialization of a bigger work in smaller, more easily digestible chunks.
This is the case of In Midnight's Silence, by Teresa Frohock, the first installment of Los Nefilim saga, with Without Light or Guide expected to published later this year. This novella tells a whole story that can be read independently but, at the same time, sets the background for a bigger narrative. And that is one of the things I have liked the most about In Midnight's Silence.
The novella belongs to the urban fantasy subgenre, with some elements of secret history and even of uchrony. Set in Barcelona some time in the early XX century, probably just before the Spanish Civil War, In Midnight's Silence focus on the ongoing conflict between daimons, angels and the Nefilim that give title to the series. Diago, the main protagonist of the story, is trapped between factions (mainly because of the involvement of Miquel, his lover) and certain events and surprises will put him in a delicate and risky position that forces him to take part into the action.
The plot is interesting, though not especially original, with a quick pace and some good action scenes. But what I did like the most is what is implied, more than what is actually told. The author shows glimpses of a much bigger setting, of a wider conflict that will hopefully unravel in the following installments, in which the potential of the worldbuilding (with an intriguing magic system, for example) will explode.
The characters are a bit clichéd, but likable. Oddly enough, my favorite one was not Diago, the protagonist, but Rafael, a little child that steals the scene time and again and that is, probably, the most fully-fleshed and three-dimensional of all the characters despite his short age (or, maybe, because of his short age). I am sure we will sure much of him in the Without Light or Guide and that would certainly be good news.
The novella also has some minor problems. Some of Diago reactions, especially concerning Rafael and other characters that "surprisingly" appear, stroke me as not very believable and the idea of the daimons, the angels, the Nefil and their distinct abilities was a bit confusing, because they were never clearly explained. The change of scenes was, sometimes, also a little abrupt.
All in all, In Midnight's Silence is a promising start to a new series of urban fantasy novellas. I see a lot of potential in the worldbuilding and, especially, in characters such as little Rafael. I'm looking forward to the next installment and I'll try and read it as soon as it is published.