Analysis of Five Midnights (ch 2)

Buy Five Midnights by Ann Dávila Cardinal

Five friends cursed. Five deadly fates. Five nights of retribución.

If Lupe Dávila and Javier Utierre can survive each other’s company, together they can solve a series of grisly murders sweeping though Puerto Rico. But the clues lead them out of the real world and into the realm of myths and legends. And if they want to catch the killer, they’ll have to step into the shadows to see what’s lurking there–murderer, or monster?

This is a craft analysis of Five Midnights by Ann Dávila Cardinal. I will be analyzing this book over the next few weeks. I will analyze the first 5-10 chapters, looking for craft issues and then review the book as a whole as a reader.

She’d never come to Puerto Rico without her father, never walked to baggage claim without struggling to keep up with his long impatient stride. She smiled. This was her first trip as an adult. Okay, so sixteen wasn’t adult, but her was of leash.

Five Midnights by Ann Dávila Cardinal.

This quote establishes both character and voice. Lupe has clearly been coming to Puerto Rico since she was very small, hence the inability to keep up with her father’s large stride. She equates being on her own with being an adult, she sees herself as responsible.

The voice gets close to Lupe at the end, getting inside her head without being an italicized thought by saying “Okay, so sixteen wasn’t adult…” It’s a casual, off handed description that feels close to the narrator.

She considered walking by the policeman and calling Uber on her father’s dime. Her father had given her the keys to her uncle’s house; she could just let herself in. Yeah, it’d be rude and her uncle would be pissed but, as her father liked to say, it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission. Instead she pulled on her own sunglasses, walked up to him, and whispered, “I’m Lupe Dávila.”

Five Midnights by Ann Dávila Cardinal.

This is another passage that speaks to Lupe’s character. She’s clearly all talk as she contemplates making her father pay for not being there with her and walking past the police escort her uncle sent.

But when she actually gets the chance, she walks straight up to him, unable to really break the rules as she desires.

“Oh no!” She put her hand to he mouth in faux surprise.

“What’s the matter, Señorita Dávila?”

“Lupe. Call me Lupe, please. It’s just… the keys to Tío Esteban’s house, my father was supposed to give them to me this morning, but I guess he forgot.” She put on a concerned face as she lay her palm over the outside pocket of her backpack as if he could see the keys hidden in its depths.

Five Midnights by Ann Dávila Cardinal.

And here we see that Lupe is a manipulator. She doesn’t have to break the rules when she can simply get others to bend them for her. This is a great way to show us her skills, there’s no need for a preamble of what she plans to do, because we get to see it on the page.

Considering her challenged luck in the parental lottery she’d take any decent parental-type figures she could get.

Without saying much, this statement says a lot about Lupe’s homelife. We already know her father is disappointing, he didn’t accompany his 16-year-old daughter to Puerto Rico and no one is surprised that he “forgot” to give her the keys to her Uncle’s place. This line also implicates the mother as a bad or neglectful parent. Of course, this is in Lupe’s point of view–and we just watched her lie, so this is also further suggests that Lupe is unreliable.

The neighborhood was famous and infamous.

Five Midnights by Ann Dávila Cardinal.

This is repetative. It’s obviously trying to say the neighborhood has a reputation, but even with its negative meaning, the word infamous gets the point across before going into the description that many music videos were shot there, as well as people.

He was like a kite you could barely hold on to, the string vibrating with its need to break free. She loved him for that.

Five Midnights by Ann Dávila Cardinal.

This is a great example of why you need to choose the right point of view to write your work. If this statement were in first person, I’d be thrown out of the story, because not a single teenager talks like that. But in third person, we can afford to be more poetic and have the opportunity to backaway from our main characters to give a larger view.

As she turned back she saw the old woman on a corner up ahead. Activity bustled around her but she was still as stone, her black dress moving on slightly with the torpid afternoon air, ruffling like the feathers of a raven.

Again, this is a great example of why some stories cannot be in first person as the description of the old woman’s black dress is far out of the teen voice.

This line is the first seemingly supernatural to happen to Lupe (We watched Vico get murdered by a monster so it’s not the first supernatural event of the story as a whole). There is a beautiful rhythm to this section that echoes how the dress flows and slows down the speed of the narrative. The old woman goes on to say some truly spooky things which introduce us to the overall mystery of the work and her dialogue is the reason I ended up turning the page into the next chapter.

Lupe’s chapter is a little stale prior to the appearance of the old woman. Lupe feels like a brat, trying to branch out on her own and overstepping her boundaries at the crime scene with her uncle, and our introduction to her is simply her arrival in Puerto Rico, not much happens to or with her until she spots the old woman who tells us ominously “They didn’t know he would really come.”

[Lupe] stood in the street, feeling alone, adrenaline cooling like when she sat in the rub and let the bath empty around her, sitting there as the cold air replaced warm water.

I thought it was interesting that she could feel cold at all in the summer in Puerto Rico. The coldness she feels adds to the supernatural nature of the old woman.

Buy Five Midnights by Ann Dávila Cardinal

Five friends cursed. Five deadly fates. Five nights of retribución.

If Lupe Dávila and Javier Utierre can survive each other’s company, together they can solve a series of grisly murders sweeping though Puerto Rico. But the clues lead them out of the real world and into the realm of myths and legends. And if they want to catch the killer, they’ll have to step into the shadows to see what’s lurking there–murderer, or monster?

Originally posted on June 23, 2021 @ 12:00 pm

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Published by J. M. Tuckerman

J.M.Tuckerman is a neurodivergent writer with a big education. She holds an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults, an MA in Writing, and a BA in Writing Arts (specializing in Creative Writing, New Media Writing, and Publication; concentrating in New Media Production), which she somehow managed to earn despite her three very loud and large dogs. Jessica was lucky enough to intern at Quirk Books and Picador, USA while earning her master’s degrees. Her service dog, Ringo, is very proud of all that she has accomplished and hopes to be on a back cover of a published book with her very soon. An avid reader, writer, and lover of young adult and middle-grade literature, Jessica’s bookshelf is overflowing with hardbacks, paperbacks, and a million half-filled notebooks. She is a proud fur-mommy to two lab/st-bernard littermates, a retriever-mix service dog, and one orange little hobgoblin cat, all of whom have made very audible appearances on the Booked All Night podcast.

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