Cover image for Midnight robber
Midnight robber
Hopkinson, Nalo.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Warner Books, [2000]

Physical Description:
329 pages ; 21 cm
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Format :


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X Adult Fiction Popular Materials-Science Fiction/Fantasy

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"Deeply satisfying...succeeds on a grand of all is the language....Hopkinson's narrative voice has a way of getting under the skin."-- The New York Times Book Review

"Caribbean patois adorns this novel with graceful rhythms...Beneath it lie complex, clearly evoked characters, haunting descriptions of exotic planets, and a stirring story...[This book] ought to elevate Hopkinson to star status." - -Seattle Times

It's Carnival time and the Caribbean-colonized planet of Toussaint is celebrating with music, dance, and pageantry. Masked "Midnight Robbers" waylay revelers with brandished weapons and spellbinding words. To young Tan-Tan, the Robber Queen is simply a favorite costume to wear at the festival--until her power-corrupted father commits an unforgiveable crime.

Suddenly, both father and daughter are thrust into the brutal world of New Half-Way Tree. Here monstrous creatures from folklore are real, and the humans are violent outcasts in the wilds. Tan-Tan must reach into the heart of myth and become the Robber Queen herself. For only the Robber Queen's legendary powers can save her life . . . and set her free.

Author Notes

Nalo Hopkinson was born in Jamaica and has lived in Guyana, Trinidad, and Canada. The daughter of a poet/playwright and a library technician, she has won numerous awards including the John W. Campbell Award, the World Fantasy Award, and Canada's Sunburst Award for literature of the fantastic. Her award-winning short fiction collection Skin Folk was selected for the 2002 New York Times Summer Reading List and was one of the New York Times Best Books of the Year. Hopkinson is also the author of The New Moon's Arms, The Salt Roads, Midnight Robber, and Brown Girl in the Ring. She is a professor of creative writing at the University of California, Riverside, and splits her time between California, USA, and Toronto, Canada.

Reviews 4

Booklist Review

The Caribbean colony-world Toussaint enjoys social harmony, thanks to a global computer that speaks to each inhabitant through a tiny aural implant. Those who violently break the social code are exiled to wild New Half-Way Tree. Proud, handsome Antonio, the mayor of Cockpit County, has an equally fiery wife, Ione, and a winsome daughter, Tan-Tan. He has always felt entitled to infrequent affairs, but when he discovers Ione in flagrante delicto with his friend Quashee, Antonio plots to disable his rival in single combat. But his handmade drug misfires, Quashee dies in the ring, and he is exiled. Tan-Tan stows away to be with him; avoiding poisonous plants and voracious wildlife, they survive by the sweat of their brows. Tan-Tan grows into a beauty, which, unfortunately, incites her father's sexual predation. Pregnant at 16, she fights back but must flee into the bush to avoid retribution. Hopkinson's exhilarating prose drives an exciting story that continues with Tan-Tan befriending New Half-Way Tree's natives and coming to terms with self-hatred. --Roberta Johnson

Publisher's Weekly Review

The sounds and rhythms of the Caribbean and Carnival suffuse Hopkinson's second novel (after Brown Girl in the Ring). On the Carib-colonized planet of Toussaint, Antonio Habib, the scheming, philandering mayor of Cockpit County, murders his wife's lover in a rigged duel and must then flee his high-tech planet, taking with him only his young daughter, Tan-Tan. The pair end up on New Half-Way Tree, Toussaint's alternate-universe twin, a primitive and dangerous world inhabited primarily by Toussaint's exiled criminal class and the douen, an alien race reminiscent of creatures from Caribbean folklore. There, Antonio's life lacks purpose, and although he remarries, he gradually degenerates into an angry, sexually predatory drunk. Growing to adulthood, Tan-Tan is deeply scarred by her father's assaults on her. Eventually she kills him in self-defense and, pregnant with his child, flees into the forbidding bush that surrounds their small settlement. Tan-Tan is kept on the run by Antonio's jealous widow, seeking vengeance for her husband's death. Hiding among the trees, Tan-Tan learns the secrets of the douen and gradually transforms into another figure out of Caribbean folklore, the Midnight Robber, who dresses in black, spouts poetry, steals from the rich and gives to the poor. Hopkinson's rich and complex Carib English can be hard to follow at times, but it is nonetheless quite beautiful; her young protagonist, at once violent and vulnerable, is extremely well drawn. Both Toussaint, a world almost awash in nanotechnology, and the more primitive New Half-Way Tree are believable, lushly detailed worlds. Like its predecessor, this novel bears evidence that Hopkinson owns one of the more important and original voices in SF. Agent, Don Maas. (Feb.) FYI: Brown Girl in the Ring won a Locus Award for Best First SF Novel. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

As the beloved daughter of the mayor of Cockpit County on the planet Toussaint, Tan-Tan grows up spoiled and cherished until her father's crime leads to her exile with him to the prison planet of New Half-Way Tree. Forced to survive in a lawless world, Tan-Tan takes refuge in childhood games, becoming the legendary Robber Queen, whose daring deeds provide the young girl with the courage to overcome her harsh surroundings. The author of Brown Girl in the Ring once again draws from African, Caribbean, and Creole folklore to flavor her tale of a fierce and resourceful young woman determined to make her way in a world she has not chosen. Highly recommended. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

School Library Journal Review

YA-Hopkinson regales readers with a tale in which West Indian folklore and cadence are combined in a futuristic fantasy set on a planet that borrows from both Haiti and Canada in its geography and cultural history. Sixteen-year-old Tan-Tan, the victim of incest, murders her trespassing father, only to become a permanent runaway from her society on the planet of Toussaint. Her childhood heroine, the Robber Queen, becomes something more personal to Tan-Tan as she fights to survive in New Half-Way Tree, a land of exile and horrifying creatures: Tan-Tan learns to emulate her heroine. In this compelling and literary novel, the author provides fully developed characters of both genders and all ages. Tan-Tan's allies include her old godmother and a male peer who quietly took the implied blame when Tan-Tan became pregnant at 14, although her father was that aborted baby's sire. The beasts of New Half-Way Tree are also fully realized, making Tan-Tan's world seem less like one of a horror story and more one of myth. While the language consistently blends Creole with standard North American English, teen readers will have little trouble following the linguistic nuances. As she did in Brown Girl in the Ring (Warner, 1998), Hopkinson provides an engaging nexus of science fiction and folklore.-Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley Public Library, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.