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Bastian Dennel PI #1

The Midnight Show

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This mystery is the case of his dreams — and her nightmares.

By day, Dayo Temitrope is a swinging singer, an up-and-coming star with a shining career ahead of her. By night, she’s . . . well, she’s not sure, but whatever she does leaves her every morning with sore feet and worn-out shoes. And after six months, she’s had enough.

Enter Bastian Dennell, a private investigator just trying to get by. When Dayo hires him to find out where she goes at night, he’s sure it’s his big break: his chance to establish himself and get the funds to pay off his family’s debt. Plus, he gets to work with his favorite singer, even if she isn’t exactly what he expected. What could be better?

But first he has to solve the case — which means navigating a tangled web of strange dreams, fair folk schemes, and show business. It will take all Bastian’s wits, along with the shining talents of Dayo herself, to figure out the truth before the curtains close for good on Dayo’s career.

A jazz-age-inspired twist on the Twelve Dancing Princesses from the author of Blood in the Snow.

126 pages, Kindle Edition

Published August 29, 2020

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About the author

Sarah Pennington

7 books101 followers
Sarah Pennington has been writing stories since before she actually knew how to write, and she has no intention of stopping anytime soon. She is perpetually in the middle of writing at least one or two novels, most of which are in the fantasy and fairy tale retelling genres. Sarah’s first published work, Blood in the Snow, received a perfect score and Special Unicorn status in Rooglewood Press’s Five Poisoned Apples contest. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys knitting, photography, and trying to conquer her massive to-be-read list.
Sarah can be found online at sarahpenningtonauthor.com. She also blogs at Light and Shadows (tpssaralightshadows.wordpress.com) and Dreams and Dragons (dreams-dragons.blogspot.com).

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Displaying 1 - 18 of 18 reviews
Profile Image for Carina  Shephard .
323 reviews53 followers
February 17, 2022
5 stars // read February 2022

1920s Jazz Age feel (but in a totally unique world) + dreams + Fae + invisibility cloaks + food… all with the tinge of creepiness and mystery that tends to flavor 12 Dancing Princesses retellings.

Highly recommend for fans of Sarah Pennington’s other stories, historical fantasy, Entwined , and Death, Be Not Proud by Suzannah Rowntree.

Content: Some drinking of alcohol, otherwise n/a
Profile Image for Abigail McKenna.
554 reviews112 followers
September 15, 2020
This was so much fun! It felt very much like an old black-and-white detective movie, complete with trench coats, jazz music, and shadowy figures. But at the same time, it was full-on fantasy novel, which made it even more intriguing.

The world was so rich, and I just wish I'd gotten more of a chance to explore it. Obviously, Dayo and Bastian's plot was the focus, so there wasn't much that we get to see outside of their sphere, but I would definitely be interested in seeing more stories set in this city at least, if not outside of it. There seems to be so much depth there that I just wanted to dig into, you know?

The characters were great, honestly. I loved Bastian from the first moment he stepped onto the page (what can I say, I'm a sucker for a man in a fedora), and Dayo fascinated me. There basically isn't any romantic subplot between them, which I thought was neat. There's a bit of attraction, and I would absolutely read a sequel to see if it goes anywhere, because I'd be here for this relationship, lol!

The actual mystery was SO intriguing, and kept me glued to the page the whole time. Maybe my favorite thing about this whole Tattered Slippers blog tour has been seeing how each author weaves different elements of the fairytale into their stories, and the choices made for this book were so unique and perfect!

Basically, this was just delightful, and I'm so glad I picked it up. 4.5 stars from me!
Profile Image for Deborah O'Carroll.
479 reviews93 followers
September 30, 2020
Sinister fey plots. The stage. Dreams. A clever detective. An exasperated singer. And a fabulous twist on my favorite fairytale.

I’ve loved this author’s previous fairytale retellings, so I was ecstatic to hear of a Twelve Dancing Princesses one! I loved this retelling! I love how it keeps to so many of the original tale’s features, but also makes it entirely its own thing. Making it a fantasy mystery was brilliant and I loved that take on it, with the detective and everything, so very much! It makes perfect sense. That was one of the neatest things about this story—how everything just made sense and fit so well together! (Always a fun thing when retellings do that.) Also, now I need more magical mysteries.

Set in a jazz-age setting, THE MIDNIGHT SHOW feels like the 1920s but in an invented world, which was so unique! I loved the “feel” so much. (There were also so many delicious foods and it made me hungry, so thanks for that. XD) I loved the mix of a ’20s-ish feel but also adding in magicalness and fey, all taken for granted as part of the world. So, so cool! I love somewhat-more-modern books where the magical part is just a part of the world.

No spoilers, but I also really loved the twist on the old woman and the invisibility cloak—Bastian’s helpfully magical items were awesome!

The mystery was deliciously creepy—again, hard to talk about without spoilers, but . . . *shivers* I almost didn’t want the book to end because I was afraid for my character friends and what might happen to them. XD Meep. The ending was fabulous, though! So many threads wrapping around to meet up and finish it off. Yesss. It was also sooo neat how dreams factored into the story! That was another thing, which I can’t get into much, that was super cool.

Dayo was a bit snappish (understandably) but she grew on me—one of my favorite scenes was her umbrella poking bit. XD (And I totally relate to her feeling of being at odds with Bastian’s morning self. XD) Bastian was fabulous and I loved his character. A great detective and a great guy, I loved his stick-to-it-ness (probably a real word for that, but anyhoo) and his ingenuity, and the occasional banter! They were both great leads.

I imagine people who are more into music, theater, jazz, etc., than I am, would probably enjoy it even more. ^_^

Since it was a short read, I almost wish there was more to this ’20s-ish world with its clubs and dashes of fey and barest hint of gangster-like stuff (and I would totally read more), but at the same time, this short book was like a perfect bite-sized window onto a rich world and it felt just right.

I totally recommend this as a quick, fun, intriguing read, with relatable characters and a delicious mystery, especially for anyone who loves the ’20s or the Twelve Dancing Princesses. Go read it! Go read it now!

(I received a free e-ARC of this book but ended up purchasing a paperback copy and reading that instead. XD All opinions are my own.)
Profile Image for Matthew Sampson.
125 reviews1 follower
September 23, 2020
The Midnight Show is a great short read. Bastian is competent, likeable and easy to root for. The world feels like alternate-historical USA in a Great Gatsby time period. I could easily read more investigations if this became a series.
Profile Image for Selah.
1,223 reviews
February 17, 2022
There were quite a few disparate elements which the author was trying to weave into a coherent world, and it didn’t always work. Still, there’s a great deal of potential here. 3.5 stars
Profile Image for Kirsten.
Author 7 books62 followers
September 18, 2020
Full review at A Synesthete Writer!

This was such a fun twist on the original fairytale! After reading Sarah’s take on Rapunzel (Mechanical Heart), I KNEW I would just love her twist on the Twelve Dancing Princesses! And I wasn’t wrong!

Dayo is a singer — and quite popular and successful, at that — who wakes up every morning with worn out shoes and aching feet. She has no idea what she does all night to bring this about, and at long last, she’s tired of pretending it’s not happening and asks for help. Hiring a private detective who can get to the bottom of it will be cheaper than buying new shoes every day.

Bastien has solved his fair share of cases. He’s good at keeping things quiet, and he’s good with people and puzzles. While he’s not Fae himself, he has enough connections in the Fae community that he can often get answers other detectives couldn’t. And he just might be able to get the answers Dayo’s searching for — that is, if she would actually give him all the details of the case.

Mystery, dynamic characters, music, Fae — this book has it all! It was such a fun and comforting read. The emphasis is mainly on the mystery and the characters, so it was really neat to see the 12DP retold from this point of view. Even though the world was fictional, it felt so REAL. The jazz era just worked so well with the Fae influences, and it was PHENOMENAL.

Overall, this isn’t a super long read. But the length is perfect for what it is. Sarah was able to include so much of the original fairytale, yet make it feel so unique. I don’t know that I’ve ever read a 12DP story like this before (and I’ve read quite a few). I would LOVE to see Sarah revisit this world with more fairytale retellings. With all the Fae magic and stuff going on, there’s so much room to develop the world and visit other retellings.

Advisory: Fae magic and a dreamrealm. It didn’t bother me that so much of the book was built on magic — it worked really well with the plot, and the whole world was clearly fictional.

Since this is a jazz-era-inspired story, expect the typical alcohol and speakeasies to make an appearance. The main characters aren’t shown to have drink enough to get drunk, but Bastien does visit a speakeasy where other characters are drinking and involved in romantic carousing.
Profile Image for C.O. Bonham.
Author 12 books23 followers
August 17, 2020
The Midnight Show by Sarah Pennington, is one of the Arista fairytale retelling challenge releases for their 2020 Tattered Slippers challenge.

Being Tattered Slippers means that this is a Twelve Dancing Princesses retelling. But with a 1920s twist. Dayo Temitrope is a successful singer at a popular club, but every morning she wakes up with her feet killing her and her shoes ruined. Enter Bastian Dennell P.I.

I really enjoyed this light-hearted mystery with magical trappings. The interesting thing about this story was that it wasn't straight 1920s America. There was an alternate world component to it, as the names of cities and countries were different, most of them having a Norse feel. Magic and the fair folk were also well known to society and were not hiding in this world. It has words that I'm not even going to try to pronounce but over all I think this was a good move as my brain wasn't distracted by trying to keep actual historical facts in mind.

As for the fairy tale I think the retelling was spot on. This Novella perfectly meshed the plot points of the fairy tale with the aesthetic and feel of a 1920s P.I. story.

Dayo was a great protagonist. She started out as a very shallow damsel in distress character, but as the story progressed, her layers peeled away like an onion revealing a very complex person underneath.

The Male lead, Bastian, was also an engaging character, though more out in the open with his character, there was still plenty to discover about him.

I certainly hope that the author plans on revisiting this story world again.

*I was given a copy of this story as part of the Tattered slippers tour so that I might provide my honest opinion of its contents. This review is my opinion only and is willingly and honestly provided.*
Profile Image for C.B. Cook.
Author 6 books198 followers
June 8, 2022
Holy COW I loved this book!!! Where to start...

First off, the characters in this book were awesome! Dayo and Bastian were so well-developed, and I loved the interactions between them. They both have their own motivations, flaws, and strengths, and they really came to life. I also absolutely loved how their relationship shifted through the book, especially from working-relationship to friendship, and I absolutely ship them. :D

And then there was the worldbuilding. Maybe I haven't read enough books set in the Jazz Age, but this one was so fun! Everything, from the dialect used to the clothing descriptions to just the general liveliness, really came alive and was so easy to picture. One of my favorite aspects of Sarah's books is the amount of detail she adds to her settings, and this one was wonderfully done.

And as a retelling, I absolutely loved the subtlety in this book! It's very clearly a retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses, but it also develops its own storyline that differentiates from the original (even just by changing the setting!). An issue I've had when reading other Twelve Dancing Princesses retellings is that they try to focus on all twelve princesses. That's a lot of main characters to keep track of, especially for me and my short attention span! So I absolutely loved that this book really only focus on Dayo and a few of the other girls, and it was extremely well done.

Overall, this is definitely one of my favorite books that I've read this year, and I HIGHLY recommend it! Go read it! :D
Profile Image for Mary.
Author 1 book17 followers
October 27, 2020
This twelve dancing princesses retelling used the unique premise of stage entertainment in place of the usual secret underground chamber, and I liked how the author tied in familiar aspects while making it unique. The aspect of a private eye for a hero was a nice touch, and it was interesting to see the character dynamics play out.

As far as content, there was unnecessary details and kissing between two side characters, illegal activity related to a bar that was significant to one main character, and magic, as well as something resembling a mafia.
The lines between good and bad, acceptable behavior and unacceptable behavior, and criminal activity are blurred, and that affected my reading experience. The pacing seemed slow in several places as well.
  This book is a fun option for those who, like me, can't get enough fairytale retellings.

I received a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes. A positive review was not required.
Profile Image for Grace T.
837 reviews5 followers
December 31, 2020
look Sarah I'm actually reviewing my ARC that I finished like two weeks before the novella came out and now it's December.


I'm so bad with ARCs why do I keep asking for themmmm I'm sorry Sarah <3

But this was a fun 12DP retelling! With 1920s-flavored fantasy and a beautifully spooky villain. Quick and tasty read.
Profile Image for Nadine Keels.
Author 40 books172 followers
August 23, 2020
Dayo Temitrope's career as a jazz singer is a promising one, but physical pain is making it harder for her to perform. For months, something during her sleep has been wearing out her shoes and leaving her feet increasingly sore. To figure out what's been happening to her at night, Dayo hires private investigator Bastian Dennell. But the dreamworld can be a tricky and dangerous place to navigate in The Midnight Show by author Sarah Pennington.

Oh, my lands! An urban fantasy story styled as a Jazz-Age-inspired mystery? Yes, please! I've already developed quite a taste for historical mysteries, and cases that involve mysterious events or crimes other than murder are a great bonus I look for. Plus, this is my second time reading a Twelve Dancing Princesses fairy tale retelling.

Now, the unfolding of events was slow-going for me here and there, and I'm not Dayo's biggest fan. While I appreciate characters with snap and grit, and I certainly understand an artist's need to shed her stage persona in her private life, cutting sarcasm or downright rudeness that a heroine doesn't apologize for isn't my thing. Also, the story's action beats are sometimes repetitive, like when the characters do a lot of shrugging.

But I got a kick out of the broader flavor of the read, with its fusion of magic and some Prohibition-era essence and jazzy glamour mixed with otherworldliness. While it wasn't hard to see where the mystery was heading, I was still intrigued overall by the journey and gripped by the climax.

Quite an uncommon and satisfying novella.
I received a complimentary copy of this book for an honest review.
Profile Image for Amber Gabriel.
Author 8 books26 followers
May 29, 2021
Fun, imaginative, fantasy noir!

Reading this book felt like watching an old, black and white detective movie. Set in a fantasy world during an era similar to the roaring twenties, the main characters navigate their magical setting with the aid of fair folk, potions, perseverance, and bravery. The dream world invented by the author plays an intriguing part in the plot, which retells the story of The Twelve Dancing Princesses in a completely unique and entertaining way. I loved the villian, who exuded just enough evil and darkness to make me shudder slightly as I turned off the lights without causing nightmares of my own! An easy, enjoyable read.
Profile Image for Mackenzie.
67 reviews
November 29, 2021
Y'all. This book is something else. I can't even begin to describe the awesomeness of this book! If there is one author I can think of who makes the most creative and unique and different retellings, it would, by far, be Sarah Pennington!
Profile Image for Lemon.
145 reviews25 followers
August 29, 2020
Positives: So, there was a lot of good about this tale. Like the general...aesthetic of it. It was inspired by the jazz age, and I apparently know very little about that except for a vague saxophone background music playing in my head. Anyway, she got me into the feel of the book very well. Also, the plot and elements of retelling in this one were greeeaaat. I'm biased because I like dreams, but I DID love how the dancing and dreaming were wrapped up together.

And I also liked the protagonists and appreciated how we got both their PoVs on the case. There wasn't any forced relationship between them and that was very nice indeed. Which brings me to say the pacing was GREAT here...none of the usual abruptness found in most novellas (yay).

Negatives: I did feel like the setting should have been builded upon more (how does magic work in there, anyway?). I mean, it is a fantasy world, which makes it hard to encapsulate all in a novella. And she DID encapsulate all that we needed to know, BUT...I had this suspicion that the places mentioned there were supposed to be inspired by/parallel real world places and, well, the references to those places and their various cultures and races kind of made me want to know more... Asides from that...one typo and maybe one or two conversations that felt a bit...out of the blue. Nothing that detrimented the story

General Opinion:I liked the story a lot!! And like Pennington's Mechanical Heart, I wanted to see sequels in the world. But I think she likes doing standalones, which is fine....yes, fine. XD But yeah...it was awesome. I kind of liked the lack of romance here (there was some of it, but it wasn't...overtaking) and also very much enjoyed the aesthetic (especially of the dreams). Characters well rounded and, well, plot incredibly *fascinating.* I don't have any negative opinions of it, to be honest...it was just a nice, cozy, sometimes nerve-wracking story for people who like American 20s-set fairytales!

Content: Not much. There is a long kiss and propiety is mentioned but not really threatened. A bit of violence (in the end, that is) but nothing frightening.
Profile Image for Yakira Goldsberry.
Author 4 books16 followers
February 16, 2021
A while back, I received a copy of The Midnight Show as a prize for a giveaway during the release of the Tattered Slippers Collection. I was just happy to do my part advertising everyone’s stories that they had worked so hard on. The Midnight Show came in the mail, was placed on my TBR pile, and remained there for the remainder of 2020. It wasn’t until recently that I had the time to go back to my pile and pick up a book that’s been waiting for me to read it for forever.

Boy, do I wish I hadn’t waited!

From page one, I was immediately sucked into the world of Bastien Dennell, a PI just trying to make a living and pay off his family’s debts, and Day Tempitrope, a star in her own right, and—ironically—Bastian’s favorite jazz singer. The whole world had a sort of 20’s swing to it, giving it that magnetic vibe that just makes you want to get up and dress in flapper’s wear while doing the hand jive.

But not only, that, it was like 1920’s America, but fantasy. And with fairies, or, as they’re called in the book, Fair Folk. It was all oh-so-familiar, and yet all so different!

And can I just say, I love Dayo and Bastian and just want them to be my best friends for life??? Bastian has one of those somewhat reserved but easygoing personalities that anyone can get along with, as well as a subtle sense of humor, and Dayo is just a queen. Like, seriously, she’s amazing. She loves to feed people as a gesture of goodwill, and I find that an admirable trait in any person.

Even though the book is only 152 pages, it still feels pretty solid with a quick plot that has an epic ending. Nothing about it felt rushed or like it should have been fleshed out more.

The only downside? It ended! I really want to see more of this world and more of Bastian and Dayo teaming up together to solve crime. I think that would be seriously awesome. I also just want to explore the culture of this world more. Just everything. I need more of everything!!!
Profile Image for Meagan Myhren-Bennett.
Author 16 books22 followers
August 29, 2020
The Midnight Show
By Sarah Pennington

Dayo Temitrope has a problem - she's putting her career in jeopardy and she can't remember a thing about it the next morning when she wakes up. Worse she has now ruined her favorite pair of red heels. But to solve this mystery will take someone who is very discreet. Dayo doesn't want anyone to know what's happening as they would probably think she was totally wackers.

Fortunately her manager Geir Olvinsson knows just who will get the job done - private investigator Bastian Dennel. Bastian is sure he can get to the bottom of Dayo's problem with a bit of investigating but to do a thorough job of it he'll have to get a lot closer to Dayo than she wants.

But when the nightmare she lives each night is revealed she just might have to reconsider just how close she'll let a PI get.

The Midnight Show has a swing-era feel to it with a double dash of fairy/fantasy thrown in giving it a unique and distinct flavor all its own. This is a fun twist on the Twelve Dancing Princesses that will leave the reader wondering what will come next in the lives of these characters. This is my first experience with Sarah Pennington's work and I can say I appreciate the world that she has created and liked the interactions between the characters.

I was provided a complimentary copy of this book with no expectations but that I provide my honest opinion - All thoughts expressed are my own.
Profile Image for Jenelle.
Author 15 books190 followers
February 15, 2021
12 Dancing Princesses retelling // really enjoyed the sort of 1920s vibes // well-thought out world, sort of similar to our own, but clearly different // Bastian Dennel the private eye was a great character and I really enjoyed the parts of the story from his POV // Dayo Temitrope kind of struck me as a jerk for most of the book, but I liked that she seemed to be softening later in the story and the friendship that develops between her and Bastian // I also liked the way the 12 dancing princesses were handled so that the cast never got so enormous

Profile Image for Elizabeth.
Author 1 book28 followers
May 23, 2021
My favorite fairy-tale as a jazz-era detective novel? There is nothing not to love here. Bonus points for the delightful vocabulary. It's the absolute berries, folks.
Displaying 1 - 18 of 18 reviews

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