This is the second book by Jane Nickerson, the first being Strands of Bronze and Gold, which takes place roughly a decade before The Mirk and MidnightThis is the second book by Jane Nickerson, the first being Strands of Bronze and Gold, which takes place roughly a decade before The Mirk and Midnight Hour but is set in the same State. Although they are connected, it IS possible to read each one as a stand-alone book.
Whereas Strands of Bronze and Gold was a full-length gothic retelling of the fairy tale Bluebeard, The Mirk and Midnight Hour was a very, very loose adaption of the ancient Scottish ballad, The Ballad of Tam Lin. It lacked the gothic feel that Strands had, but it read as an interesting historical novel that follows one family left behind when the heroine's father goes off to fight for the Confederate Army in the Civil War. As the novel goes on, however, it finally starts to reveal enemies both thoroughly human and those with the mystical powers of hoodoo (the non-religious branch of voodoo), as well as a dark mystery: just WHY are the hoodoo practitioners keeping wounded Union soldier Thomas Lynd alive and isolated when it's becoming increasingly clear that their intentions probably aren't just to make him better?
I really enjoyed this book. I LOVED Strands of Bronze and Gold and although I consider that to be the better of the two books, that doesn't mean that The Mirk and Midnight Hour wasn't a great read. I read the first book in the series by staying up late two nights in a row, and I did the same with the second! It's a bit more predictable than Strands and perhaps might not have the one-in-a-million sort of brilliance Strands did, BUT THAT DOESN'T MEAN IT WASN'T A GOOD BOOK. I very much enjoyed the ride I took while reading this book! And quite a few of the detail plot points took me by surprise, even if I could already guess the overall plot points. It was a great book, and I will definitely be waiting for the third book in the series!...more
This is genuinely one of the best books I've read in a long, long time.
So I had really high hopes for this book. Like, really high hopes. One of my faThis is genuinely one of the best books I've read in a long, long time.
So I had really high hopes for this book. Like, really high hopes. One of my favorite mostly-ignored-or-unknown-by-many-people fairy tales, Bluebeard, set in gothic pre-Civil South? Uhm, yes please! When you think about it, the South in the Civil War era is the closest thing America has to the gothic moors of England that the Brontes were so fond of, and so setting Bluebeard there worked absolutely perfectly.
But let's discuss why this book exceeded my already high expectations.
When the story sets out, Sophie (our heroine and narrator) is kind of annoying. Everything's all, Oh, look, that's so gothic! and Oh, what gorgeous dresses and jewels! and It's so gothic, surely Wyndriven Abbey must be haunted with ghosts and vampires! and, well, you get the picture. I thought, "Oh my god, Sophia reminds me so much of Catherine from Northanger Abbey, they are one and the same." Three pages later, Sophia makes a comment about how she and Catherine from Northanger Abbey would probably make great friends.
I didn't know whether I wanted to laugh because I called it or sigh because she was so predictable.
Sophia continues on this was (two pages later she wonders if M. de Cressac has a mad wife locked in the attic or in one of the Abbey's many rooms) until she starts to question things. She realizes that her new guardian doesn't act as he should, and that his dead wife-- er, make that wives-- and then make that multiple wives, plus one who "ran out" on him--is surrounded in mystery and everything just seems more and more off the more she finds out. And she gets suspicious.
As terrible things start to happen and her paradise starts to show it's dirty underbelly, Sophia changes. She grows up. I have never read a book in which the heroine goes through such character development so believably. Anymore, heroines are strong, fierce, and independent. Sophia was a fresh breath of realism. She starts out like a real girl in 1855 would; huge mansion and grounds, dresses, and a dashing guardian would be exciting. But before long she starts to question, and she begins to realize that all is not as it appears. And before long you're rooting for Sophia to get out of Wyndriven Abbey as fast as she can and to get to the safety of her siblings or the Reverend Mr. Stone. At the climax of the book, my breath kept catching, my heart was racing, and I could feel Sophia's genuine (and very reasonable) fear and her determination to live. I was so wrapped up and absorbed in what was happening that I felt like it was happening to me! It was brilliant.
There's a lot of small things I loved about this book, too. Many references to the original tale--even a small one on the first page you wouldn't get unless you're very familiar with the original! There's also a running joke throughout the book that appears about three or four times; Sophia can never figure out if someone's quoting Shakespeare or the Bible. In a time when those things would be quoted more, it's quite believable that she'd get them switched up and it's so endearing. It was an odd little quirk that I don't think most people would have thought to put in. And the memento mori hair bracelet! Such a perfect thing for the times, A+ to Ms. Nickerson.
BASICALLY EVERYONE SHOULD GO READ THIS BOOK RIGHT NOW. I stayed up two nights in a row (until 4:30 and 2:40 AM, respectfully) until it was done. It took a while for me to fall asleep the second night after finishing it!
I'd give it 10 out of 5 stars. It is that good....more
A fantastic insight to characters from the Fables series, "1001 Nights of Snowfall" is probably my current favorite due to the diverse art. Just likeA fantastic insight to characters from the Fables series, "1001 Nights of Snowfall" is probably my current favorite due to the diverse art. Just like the Sultan was, I was sucked into the intriguing tales that Snow White tells him. I laughed out loud quite a few times, and often feared ripping the page because I was turning it as fast as I could. All in all, this is a wonderful addition to Fables. 4/5 stars...more
I remember when I first saw "Dragon Slippers" on the shelf. The cover art (of the first edition) was beautiful; it looked like a painting about to sprI remember when I first saw "Dragon Slippers" on the shelf. The cover art (of the first edition) was beautiful; it looked like a painting about to spring to life. Reading the jacket cemented what I already knew: I wanted to buy it and read it. So I did just that. It was Jessica Day George's second book, though it was the first I read. Over the few days I read it I fell in love and, though I didn't know it at the time, formed such a love for it that I'd go on to read every single book Ms. George wrote. "Dragon Slippers" will forever hold a special place in my heart, and I know it's a book I'll share with my kids one day, if I ever have any. 5/5 stars!
Update: I read this again today because I'm meeting Jessica Day George next week!...more
Many authors rewrite or re-imagine fairy tales; it's been one of the most popular genres for the past few years. But none do it like Jessica Day GeorgMany authors rewrite or re-imagine fairy tales; it's been one of the most popular genres for the past few years. But none do it like Jessica Day George. Her sense of humor and passion shine through the story, and the reader is happily swept along for the ride. I read "Princess of the Midnight Ball" in a single day because I couldn't put it down. My mom had to force me to put down the book and eat something! Jessica Day George writes a great story for both guys and girls. An unique aspect of her 'Princess' series is the knitting patterns in the back, so that you can make things like in the book. Very unusual in a teen book, but a fresh, smart idea. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants a fantasy teen/YA book that has a fresh, unique spin. 5/5 stars!...more
I literally laid on my bed just starring into space for a good five minutes after reading this book, then tweeted that I had end-of-series depression.I literally laid on my bed just starring into space for a good five minutes after reading this book, then tweeted that I had end-of-series depression. A tweet that Jessica Day George retweeted.
This book was fantastic. An excellent finale to the series. Every character was unique from all others that have come in the previous two books in the series, Princess of the Midnight Ball and Princess of Glass. It was honestly a perfect finale to a perfect series. On a scale of five stars, I'd give it 10. Some things were predictable, of course, but the ride to the predictable points was an enjoyable one,and some truly unexpected things did happen, and there may have been a red herring thrown in that was kind of not so much a red herring after all. So it was completely brilliant.
I could wax poetic all day on the things I loved about this book and this series, but I'll conclude with how awesome it is that Jessica Day George puts the knitting patterns in the back of each book in the series. I mean seriously, the Princess series is easily the only teen series that does that. Unique and original, just like everything about this series. This will forever hold a spot on my shelf with Robin McKinley, the The Children of Green Knowe series, and Jane Yolen!...more