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The Midnight Dress

3.63  ·  Rating Details ·  1,097 Ratings  ·  257 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
ebook, 288 pages
Published October 8th 2013 by Knopf Books for Young Readers (first published January 1st 2013)
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Amanda While certainly not excessive, there is some sexual content, references to male parts, and also some curse words.
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The book opens with a girl wearing a dress the colour of midnight waiting in a park and sets a level of suspense and mystery for the rest of the story. Told in two time frames this is the story of a missing girl and the events that led to her disappearance.

Rose Lovell has arrived in the small town of Leonora in tropical Queensland with her drifter father. They have been on the road with their caravan constantly moving from one town to another since Rose's mother died when she was young. She know
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
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
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
Cait (Paper Fury)
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
A gorgeous slip of the book that excels in creating that elusive thing: atmosphere. And despite seemingly displaying its twists and turns for all to see from the very beginning, it manages to surprise, particularly in a stabby-heart kind of way.

Anyone who loved The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender will appreciate this. It has the same tragic family legends, the same magical devotion to a craft (here it is dressmaking instead of baking) and the same hard-earned wisdom about life. The
This is in the same vein as Gone Girl or Girl on a Train; the author appears to be straightforward, but is really misleading the reader. I was not completely misled (figured out both "switcheroos" about half way through), but I did enjoy watching it unfold. Both Rose and Pearl were believable teenagers (although in different ways) and the story was complex enough without relying on convenience or obvious distractions.

I think my only complaint was that there was no real insights or witty commenta
Dec 16, 2013 Karissa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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,
Steph Bowe
Mar 24, 2013 Steph Bowe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jeretta Hall-Robinson
Since the reviews were so good for this book I was excited to read it. However, after the first chapter my 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
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
Dec 27, 2013 Naberius rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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
This book broke my heart. See my full review here -
Jun 09, 2014 Laura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Ea Solinas
Apr 28, 2015 Ea Solinas rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In the little town of Leonora, a girl is missing... and later found dead. She wears a dress the color of midnight, stitched by a woman said to be a witch.

And throughout "The Midnight Dress," we are haunted by the question of who killed the girl, and which girl she is (there are a number of them). This lush, bittersweet coming-of-age novel is the sort of thing Sarah Addison Allen would write if she were Australian -- beautifully written, fragrant, and with a hint of benevolent magic woven in.

Kitty Jay
In The Midnight Dress by Karen Foxlee, Rose moves to a small seaside town with her drifter, alcoholic father. She unexpectedly makes a friend in the bubbly and naive Pearl, who encourages Rose to attend the Harvest Dance, a touted event where all the girls show off their dresses and parade on stage. Rose goes to the local seamstress, and rumored witch, Edie Baker, for help making a dress, and slowly becomes wrapped in Edie's life story.

There are three layers to the story, though Foxlee does an a
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
Aug 11, 2016 Jennifer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
We begin with the ending. There is a girl standing in the dark, wearing a beautiful hand-stitched dress. The dress is midnight-blue, the color of the sky and of stars and it - is - magical. The girl is waiting for someone. She does not know it yet, but the dress is about to change her fate. She does not know it yet, but she is about to disappear.

When Rose and her father wind up in the small beach town of Leonora, she does not think they will stay for long. They never do. A few weeks, a few mon
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
Feb 01, 2013 Nicole rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 01, 2014 Natalie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: great-australian
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
Gaby Meares
Oct 04, 2015 Gaby Meares rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is such a beautifully written story - and very hard to place in any one specific genre. I found it achingly sad as so many of the characters are looking for someone they have lost, or who they haven't even met, but feel the empty space where they should be. But one of the strongest elements in the story is the landscape. It plays a huge part in creating, on the one hand,the overarching sense of claustrophobia and impending doom, and on the other, a magical place where some characters find e ...more
Jul 16, 2014 April rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 31, 2013 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this book a lot. It grabs you with the first page in a way that makes you think you are on top of the story. It has so many surprising twists and turns. Karen Foxlee's characters are well drawn and believable even though most of them are eccentrics. Her descriptions of far north Queensland trees, birds, landscape and weather are beautiful. Having spent huge chunks of time in FNQ, they rang true.

Read this book.
Christine Bongers
Apr 15, 2013 Christine Bongers rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: aussie-ya
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.
Moomin Girl
May 28, 2014 Moomin Girl rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
It starts off with so much potential, but it completely fails to live up to that potential.

It feels as though it belongs in an airport-novel-store, or on a wire rack of yellowing mass-market paperback remainders outside a suburban newsagent.
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Sinopsis en Español // Synopsis in Spanish 1 1 Jul 07, 2016 01:13PM  
LOVE THIS BOOK! 2 6 Jul 02, 2014 05:36PM  
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  • The Minnow
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  • The Accident
  • The Astrologer's Daughter
  • You Don't Even Know
  • Meet Me at the River
  • Cry Blue Murder
  • Cracked
  • Girl Defective
  • Are You Seeing Me?
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  • The Guy, the Girl, the Artist and His Ex
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...

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“Girls are good at running away. It's a fact.” 5 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.” 4 likes
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