Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Review: THE MIRK AND MIDNIGHT HOUR by Jane Nickerson

Rating: 3/5 stars

The beginning of this book was so agonizingly slow and devoid of any plot that I almost considered not finishing it. But then I read a review that said it picked up after page 100, so I decided to stick it out. On exactly page 149 the story got interesting and continued climbing from there. While the beginning was barely two stars, the middle and ending were a solid four stars.

The Mirk and Midnight Hour is blurbed as a retelling of the fairytale Tam Lin. I’ve personally never heard that tale before reading this book, but kudos to Nickerson for retelling an obscure fairytale. I don’t know how closely this book follows the original story, though. The back of the book simply says, “A southern girl. A wounded soldier. A chilling force deep in the forest. All collide at night’s darkest hour.” (Though I would not say that’s a very accurate description of the plot, and I definitely wouldn’t use the word “collide.”)

That back-cover blurb gave me vibes of Beautiful Creatures, which I loved, and that’s why I originally wanted to read this book. However, I can say that the two stories are vastly different. While both are set in the South and revolve around the Civil War, those are about the only similarities. This book had significantly less magic than I was expecting. The only magic in this book comes in the form of a “witch doctor” and his family, whereas Beautiful Creatures is straight-up paranormal and features many characters with blatant powers, for comparison.

Although I did like this book and the journey that Violet takes in befriending the soldier and rescuing him, it was fairly easy to see the outcome. Any reader could guess what the end would be, no matter what obstacle stood in the characters’ way. This is just one of those books that you think to yourself while reading, “Well they’ll surely get out of that predicament,” or, “It looks bad now but they’ll be okay; no worries.” I find that to be true of most YA novels, when you know that the characters will survive and what the happy ending will be, but you keep reading to find out how they get there. Nonetheless, this book was still entertaining. There was a lot of great character development throughout the story, and not just with our protagonist, Violet. We see significant changes in Sunny, Miss Elsa, and Seeley as they overcome trials presented to them and become characters with real depth instead of the superficial plot devices they started as.

Even though The Mirk and Midnight Hour started out with a slow burn, it ended with a blazing fire. Looking back, I did enjoy the story, and I can see how the backstory was necessary, although I wish Nickerson would have presented it differently to make the beginning more enjoyable. Overall, I would recommend this book to those who like classical fairytales and historical fantasy stories.

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