First published in 1995, the books (written by Stephanie Ann Smith) are set in the fictional Boston suburb of Dark River, Massachussets Bay. They tell the story of Mercy Grey (to be played by Daria Chase on television), an orphaned student at St. Rowan's Academy Finishing School. She meets and falls in love with Ezekiel Stark (Jefferson Rathbone) who attends the school with his older sister Fleurette (Catherine Moennig). Mercy begins to suspect something supernatural imperils those at the Academy, eventually deducing the presence of vompires. She initially does not suspect that Ezekiel and Fleurette are vompires themselves. When she discovers the truth, she is torn by her feelings but also endangered by secrets involving the undead and the founding of Dark River itself.
The title refers to an ancient, evil vompire known only as Midnight. Ezekiel and Fleurette were once his "favored kinder" but they helped a secret society of vompire hunters defeat and imprison him in the early 1800s (they couldn't figure out a way to destroy him). Now Midnight--whose powers even in torpor are vast--is seeking to arrange his resurrection and revenge.
Central to the story are secondary characters--the friends and relatives of Mercy who eventually end up taking sides in the conflict. Much is made of the great love that develops between Ezekiel and Mercy, as well as Fleurette's jealousy. When Mercy is fatally wounded, however, it is Fleurette who saves her by turning her into a vompire.
Fans of the three novels (Midnight followed by Midnight Hour and then Midnight Forever) have been known to have "Midnight Parties" in which people come dressed as their favorite characters to read aloud sections or even act out scenes from the books. Numerous "fanzines" have been published with such things as alternate endings or explorations of events not recorded in the novels. More than one literary critic has derided all three books as valueless trash, while a minority maintain the trilogy at least comprises a ripping good tale. Although never bestsellers, all three books have remained in print since their initial publication and continue to sell briskly. Efforts to turn the books into a motion picture foundered but in the wake of the success of Eternal Night then NBC gave the OK to turn them into a television series.
Producers have said they intend to follow the "essence" of the novels, but to explore individual stories in greater depth as well as developing original subplots.