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The Midnight Dress

3.62  ·  Rating details ·  1,471 ratings  ·  309 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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Amanda While certainly not excessive, there is some sexual content, references to male parts, and also some curse words.

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Average rating 3.62  · 
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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
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
Deborah Ideiosepius
This was a really, really well written enjoyable book. I am honestly a little surprised it took me so long to get to it.

Set entirely in Far North Queensland, the descriptions of the town, rainforest, sea an region are spot on! I living in FNQ for quite a while and this book skillfully brought the region luminously to life. The deft handling of the small details was utterly charming to anyone who has spent time in our tropics, I hope it would be as charming and as evocative to others as well. I c
Aug 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
C.G. Drews
Mar 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Jeretta Hall-Robinson
Dec 16, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
Jen Ryland
Jul 12, 2013 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
Jay G
Feb 19, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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When Rosie moves to the small town of Lenora with her alcoholic father, she doesn't expect to stay long. She definitely doesn't think she'll stay long enough to take part in the Harvest Day Parade. Then she meets a girl named Pearl and she convinces her to get her dress from an old lady named Edie Baker, the towns rumored witch. They make a beautiful gown of midnight blue together which
Jan 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Roberta R. (Offbeat YA)
Excerpt from my review - originally published at Offbeat YA.

Pros: Atmospheric read, with characters who get under your skin. Evocative writing.
Cons: Quiet (if gloomy) story, where not much happens - at least on the surface.
WARNING! Description of a dead body (not graphic). Suicide by hanging. Alcohol addiction. An inappropriate relationship. The prelude of a would-be sex scene. A couple of male anatomy references.
Will appeal to: Those who can appreciate a subtly woven, darkly magical tale.

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
Apr 09, 2017 rated it liked it
I tried to like this book, really. Alas, it was just kind of boring. Most of the characters were boring. Oh well, they can't all be "my favorite book ever"! ...more
Dec 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
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,
Mar 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
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
Stacey Potter
Jan 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
One of my favourite reads in a very long time.
Renita D'Silva
Sep 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Just beautiful and heart breaking
Dec 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 05, 2015 rated it did not like it
I would write an introduction as to what this book is about, but I have no idea. Is it about a midnight dress? Maybe... or a girl who is supposedly goth, living in poverty with an alcoholic father? Is it about a seamstress or a hut in the forest? I missed the conflict, maybe because I was asleep for most of the time I was reading or because something else was missing, though I'm not sure what that was.
Maybe it was authenticity? I had a lot of trouble wrapping my mind around Rose's gothness; for
marisa inez
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 - ...more
Aug 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arc, read-in-2013
Tragically, magically, beautiful.
Kimberly Karalius
Jun 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: top-favorites
Way darker than I expected after reading OPHELIA, but beautifully written!
Jun 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
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 rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
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
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MJC 18S502: the midnight dress 1 3 Mar 18, 2018 07:29AM  
Sinopsis en Español // Synopsis in Spanish 1 1 Jul 07, 2016 01:13PM  
LOVE THIS BOOK! 2 7 Jul 02, 2014 05:36PM  

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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

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