The Midnight Dress
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The Midnight Dress

3.73 of 5 stars 3.73  ·  rating details  ·  465 ratings  ·  129 reviews
Quiet misfit Rose doesn't expect to fall in love with the sleepy beach town of Leonora. Nor does she expect to become fast friends with beautiful, vivacious Pearl Kelly, organizer of the high school float at the annual Harvest Festival parade. It's better not to get too attached when Rose and her father live on the road, driving their caravan from one place to the next whe...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published October 8th 2013 by Knopf Books for Young Readers (first published January 1st 2013)
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The Midnight Dress by Karen Foxlee is set in Cairns. Fifteen year old Rose Lovell and her father have moved to a small town, and Rose expects things to go as they usually do. Her father will stay sober for a couple of weeks, he'll get a part time job, but then he'll start drinking and soon, they will move on again. Normally Rose keeps to herself and doesn't bother to make friends, but local girl, Pearl Kelly, attaches herself to Rose and they become friends. Pearl convinces Rose to take part in...more
Shelleyrae at Book'd Out

Will you forgive me if I tell you the ending?

The Midnight Dress begins with a girl waiting anxiously in the darkness, the sounds of the town celebrating echoing in the distance, wondering what she will say when he comes for her. This is the girl that will disappear, the girl wearing the midnight dress.

The narrative shifts between the present, as a Detective searches for the missing girl, and the past as present as the midnight dress comes to be. Rose arrives in the small northern Queensland town...more
It took me a little while to read through this one--but it was a lovely book--it's a mystery, it's got some magical realism in it, very subtle though--and it is a story-within-a-story format, which I LOVE. It's an Aussie setting, and unlike most of the Aussie books I've read, the setting isn't urban but VERY rural: a tiny town in Queensland. It's a tropical setting, there are cane farms and rocky beaches, and loads of jungle (bush). What struck me most was the mention of all the Australian flora...more
Jen Ryland
Oct 07, 2013 Jen Ryland added it
Shelves: arcs, favorites
One of my favorites of 2013!

I went into this book expecting the typical YA paranormal -- new girl in town, big dance coming up at school, prom dress…. yada, yada -- the same story I've read a dozen times over.

What I got instead was a spellbinding story that's one part dark fairy tale, one part coming of age story, one part mystery. Told in beautiful -- yet compellingly readable -- prose, with vivid setting, and an inventive narrative structure, The Midnight Dress had me enthralled from the first...more
I got a copy of this book to review through the Amazon Vine program. I thought the premise was fascinating and had heard some great things about this book. It ended up being a very interesting and creepy young adult horror/paranormal read.

This is about a girl named Rose who moves with her nomadic father to the city of Paradise. There she meets a girl named Pearl who convinces Rose to have an old woman named Evie help Rose make a dress for the upcoming Harvest Festival. As things start to unfold,...more
Steph Bowe
The Midnight Dress is not classified as a YA novel (it's a coming of age tale, really, and many literary fiction titles for a general adult audience focus on this adolescent angst without explicitly being YA), though it features teenaged protagonists. The Midnight Dress is beautifully written, slightly surreal, just exquisite. Though it didn't interest me based on the blurb, once I started reading I was entirely entranced. It's unique and lovely, but also very dark - I recommend it to older teen...more
I was completely captivated by this story. The combination of the exotic (well, exotic to me, at least) setting and the compelling main character made for a page-turning read, that once I finished, I wanted to start all over again. That doesn't usually happen to me in a book, which makes me glad that this is the last book of the year that I finished, letting me end my reading on a high note.

So let's start with the setting. Rose and her father move to a small, rural town in Australia, which is de...more
Tonile {My Cup and Chaucer}
This review originally appeared at

Rose Lovell is used to moving around a lot. Her life with her father has followed a fairly similar pattern over the years: they will arrive and for a while her father will stay off the drink; until one day he won’t, and then they will pack up and move and start the whole process again. Rose has learnt not to become comfortable. She has learnt not to become attached to people or places, so as to avoid constant disappointm...more
Nike Sulway
Have you read Karen Foxlee's first novel, The Anatomy of Wings? If not, you are missing out on one of the finest reading experiences ever. And this book, her second, consolidates the fact that Karen is an incredible writer. One who writes with astonishing insight and tenderness.

The Midnight Dress is the story of two young girls - Rose Lovell and Pearl Kelly. Rose is the daughter of a drifter (Patrick Lovell), who has moored his caravan in 'Paradise' (a caravan park) in the lush Queensland beachs...more
Jeretta Hall
Since the reviews were so good for this book I was excited to read it. However, after the first chapter ny enthusiasm waned. I felt that the writing was disjointed, jumping from one storyline or character point of view to the next. As far as the plot goes, I figured out who the missing girl was, what happened to her, and who did it by page 95. But I kept reading to fill in the details.
As far as the characters go, I felt like Rose wasn't developed enough. She would randomly say something but the...more
Kate Forsyth
The Midnight Dress is a beautiful, haunting, tragic tale of love and loss and yearning. Told in a series of stories within stories, it circles around the mysterious disappearance of a girl one night in a far north Queensland town. The setting is superbly created, the characters are vivid and achingly alive, and the writing is exquisite. I particularly loved the character of the old seamstress Edie who, by teaching the young, sullen heroine Rose to sew and telling her stories of her own past, tea...more
The story is happens in three layers. The present time deals with the murder mystery of a young girl. Then, there are two aspects of flashbacks. The first is about Rose, a girl that doesn't allow herself to settle into one places because her father likes to move around. However, Rose finds herself liking this little town of Leonora and building a friendship with Pearl, a popular local girl that is planning the annual Harvest Festival. As the two girls grow in friendship, Pearl convinces...more
I actually like a book that starts with the ending. The Midnight Dress does exactly that, and it does a brilliant job of it. In fact, Foxlee manages to build the suspense by giving away the “ending” without any of the details: just a murky outline of what happens, so that you know there’s a threat, but you aren’t certain who’s in danger or what that danger is. Better yet, she tells the ending in parallel with the rest of the story, beginning each chapter with a brief snatch of the ending, so tha...more
Christine Bongers
Richly textured, evocative and entrancing, this exquisitely written second novel surpasses Karen Foxlee's brilliant award-winning debut, The Anatomy of Wings. A mystery, a tragedy, a coming-of- age classic, set against the brooding and gothic majesty of far north Queensland's mountainous rainforests. Sublime.
Short and Sweet:

The Midnight Dress is beautiful, magical and heartbreaking. One of the best for me in 2013 for sure. Karen Foxlee is one of those authors who can create a captivating, gorgeous atmosphere worth losing yourself in. A truly unique and wonderful story!

To Elaborate....

Rose has 'landed' in the small town of Leonora where her and her father have run out of gas. They decide to stay a while but Rose has every expectation that she'll soon be leaving again.... like they always do. So she i...more
Sionainn Wallace
This book is a humid summer evening; one with cicadas calling.

It is beautiful and honest, and woven together perfectly: three stories in one, one story in three. It left me with a feeling, though I've yet to work out what.

I borrowed this book from one of my lecturers after doing an exercise in class which left me frustrated due to reading three separate blurbs, all of which seemed to tell me different stories. Being a reader who reads upon recommendation, I have to say this is actually the firs...more
Cait D
What just...woah. What? No. This book is equally beautiful and breathtaking and just a little tiny bit confusing. I don't want to ever say anything against it (the writing was just that beautiful. But I'm not 100% sure what happened at the end.

Before we get into the review: Australian books rock. I read waaaay too many American books. I get excited every time I pick up an Aussie book because, a) I relate and b) Australian writers seem to have a very calm writing style (not all, just some) a...more
This book reminded me of On the Jellicoe Road in many ways. There were three seamlessly interweaving narratives, allowing readers to piece together the story of Edie, Rose, and Pearl. There was some truly beautiful writing that really captured the essence of the town.

However, I found many of the supporting cast very shallow, particularly Vanessa and some of Rose's other friends. Pearl was quite unrealistic, to be perfectly honest; I never connected with her character at all, never understood her...more
When Rose Lovell moves to the small town of Leonora with her drifter father, she doesn't expect to love the town or to be befriended by the lively Pearl Kelly, who convinces her to visit Edie Baker, the elderly seamstress who promises to make Rose a midnight dress. This was a beautifully written coming-of-age story bordering on the gothic. Foxlee does an excellent job of creating the world of rural Australia and her vivid descriptions take you right to the heart of the story. She captures the co...more
The Midnight Dress was a rather unique and interesting story. I enjoyed the characters as well as the plot twist. Engrossing from the beginning, and attention grabbing until the end, the writing was vivid and very real. My only complaint is that I would have liked to have seen a bit more editing of sentence structure and mechanics. I look forward to reading more by this author and recommend this book to anyone looking for a story with a bit of suspense, a bit of coming-of-age and a bit of romanc...more
Juliet Wilson

Beautiful, beautiful story. It unfolded excellently. Perfect blend of magical realism and coming if age tale. I loved Rose and Pearl.
3.5/4 stars. It was outstanding but I'm stuck between liking it and loving it. I have so many mixed feelings. It wasn't what I was expecting, but the language was so gorgeous even though the story was rather confusing, and it was hard to follow with all the tense switches.
This is one of those books I need to reread. Because It's one of those books you have to read word for word and pay attention to the little details.
It was...beautiful.
Personally, I wish the had focused less on little bits tha...more
Hannah Bnana
Recently I read 'The Midnight Dress' by Karen Foxlee. It was published in 2013 by QUP. I picked this book up at the library and chose it because it was about sewing, and I love to read Australian stories. It's set in tropical FNQ (that's Far North Queensland). The setting of small town, clear turquoise sea with white beaches, giant mountain with lush vegetation and streams that turn quickly into torrents, soggy cane fields and clunking cane trains plays an enormous part in the story.

A teenage gi...more
If this book doesn’t grab you with its spell-binding cover of a girl falling while wearing a beautiful dress, then the opening question should: “Will you forgive me if I tell you the ending?” Ultimately a mystery, this book is also full of romance, friendship and family and will appeal to many teen readers.

Each chapter begins with part of the end of the story and then proceeds to tell the story from the beginning when teen Rose first arrives to the small, old-fashioned ocean town of Leonora, Aus...more
Lauren Chater
This is a very special book!

I devoured it quickly - I was carried along so easily by the story of Rose and Pearl, two girls who from an unlikely friendship in a small QLD town, and Edie Baker, the local dressmaker who may or may not be a witch...

Enchanting. Mesmerising. Sumptuous. Mysterious. Lush. These are the words I would use to describe the setting (the house crammed full of random objects, the mountain with it's secrets and stories, the small town that smells of sugarcane) and the story,...more
WOW…. Really that’s all I want to say.

This book was great and I couldn’t put it down. The synopsis on the cover doesn’t do it justice.

Yes there is a beautiful mysterious dress, yes a girl goes missing…But that’s not all, not even part of it.

First off the book takes place in Australia which is pretty unique, I, at least, don’t see it a lot. So the back drop for the story is beautiful and new.

The characters are good and almost believable teen girls, which is also hard to find in YA.

The culture is...more
Apr 28, 2014 Kemi rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2014
Eh. 3 stars. I loved reading about the dress construction, and I thought the use of stitch types as chapter titles was very clever. I understand how her background shaped her character, but Rose was just so... unlikable. Plus, it seemed as if the author couldn't decide how big a role she wanted the air of mystery to play in the story. Sometimes the "Magic" jumped up and down on the table, waving its arms and screaming in the reader's face; when other times it sat quietly in the corner, clearing...more
Beautiful writing, story-within-a-story, pieces unfolding all add up to a unique gem of a book. Rose Lovell, daughter of an alcoholic father, never lives too long in one place. Then she gets to Paradise, a camping park in a little town, and begins to meet friends, including Pearl, who is all light and beauty and talkativeness. The traditional town parade is coming up, where the teen girls wear formal dresses and a queen and her princess court are chosen. Pearl wants Rose to participate, but Rose...more
I didn't believe the friendship between the two girls for a second, the way it appeared out of nowhere and suddenly became so strong. But i kept reading because of the way the story was layered - the 'future', the italics telling us the end of the story at the beginning of each chapter; the 'present', the girls' friendship and how one of them ends up missing; and the 'past', Edie's stories of her family's history, mixed in with Rose's story.

Had the story been written in true chronological order...more
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Karen Foxlee is an Australian author who lives and writes in Queensland. Her young adult novels The Anatomy of Wings (UQP/Knopf/Atlantic) and The Midnight Dress (Knopf/UQP/Hot Key Books) have been published internationally to much acclaim. The Anatomy of Wings won the Commonwealth Writers Prize Best First Book 2008 (South Asia/Pacific), the Dobbie Award 2008, and a Parent’s Choice Gold Award in th...more
More about Karen Foxlee...
Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy The Anatomy of Wings Meeting Morrie / Clancy of the Undertow (RAF Volume 5: Issue 1) A Most Magical Girl One Book Many Brisbanes 4

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“Girls are good at running away. It's a fact.” 4 likes
“The Main Street is wide, ridiculously wide, as though when it was built, the town was expecting something amazing to arrive, a thousand people to stake their claim to a patch of soggy green land, a huge boat, Titanic-size, on the back of a truck.” 3 likes
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