Thursday, July 30, 2015

Audiobook Review: The Mirk and Midnight Hour by Jane Nickerson

Title: The Mirk and Midnight Hour
Author: Jane Nickerson
Narrator: Dorothy Dillingham Blue
Publication Date: March 11, 2014
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers 
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A Southern girl. A wounded soldier. A chilling force deep in the forest. All collide at night’s darkest hour.

Seventeen-year-old Violet Dancey has been left at home in Mississippi with a laudanum-addicted stepmother and love-crazed stepsister while her father fights in the war—a war that has already claimed her twin brother.

When she comes across a severely injured Union soldier lying in an abandoned lodge deep in the woods, things begin to change. Thomas is the enemy—one of the men who might have killed her own brother—and yet she's drawn to him. But Violet isn't Thomas's only visitor; someone has been tending to his wounds—keeping him alive—and it becomes chillingly clear that this care hasn't been out of compassion.

Against the dangers of war and ominous powers of voodoo, Violet must fight to protect her home and the people she loves.

From the author of Strands of Bronze and Gold comes a haunting love story and suspenseful thriller based on the ancient fairy tale of “Tam Lin.”

I don't remember exactly when I first took notice of The Mirk and Midnight Hour. But you know how you see a car you really like and then you see it everywhere? That's what happened with this book. I wasn't sold on the description because I'm not big on historical fiction... It's also a retelling, which is one of my favorite things ever, but I'd never heard of the fairy tale it's based on. But once I saw the cover I kept seeing it EVERYWHERE! Finally, I just gave in and decided to give it a listen.

This is the story of Violet Dancey and her Union soldier, Thomas... and it's a slow one. In fact, the soldier doesn't even come into the picture until halfway through the (really long) book! Despite that, these two characters were very enjoyable, as was the romance.

Violet has grown up in the South and has lost her brother to the war already when her father also goes off to fight. She is left with her new stepmother and stepsister, Sunny, along with her cousins unexpected houseguests. Violet is a strong protagonist who stands up for what she believes in and, even more importantly, is not afraid to change her opinions with new information. Thomas is an injured soldier when Violet first meets him and is completely at her mercy. Over a long enough period of time that it doesn't seem unbelievable, they get to know each other and eventually fall in love.

Then there are other characters... Sunny is a dimwitted moron who lets people walk all over her while simultaneously being a bully. She is such a doormat that she commits a huge offense against her loved ones that really made me want to slap her in her dumb, blonde face. Dorian is the smooth-talking cousin who you kind of know is no good from the very moment he's introduced. His character is convincingly despicable and he works well within the story as a big bad. The relationship between Sunny and Dorian is infuriating, but it's realistic enough.

I felt like the world building in this novel was sufficient, but it definitely could have been better. There was a lot of potential for amazing descriptions with all the different settings within the book. While I was able to picture some of them based on the description provided, there were other things (like the main house) that I never got a clear image of.

The story itself was interesting, but it didn't WOW me at all. Like I've already said, it was very slow. Most audiobooks are very quick to listen to, but this one seemed to drag. Honestly, though, I'd say it read about the same as some other historical romance novels I've tried. The voodoo, which I'm guessing somehow tied into the fairy tale this retelling, seemed very strange and never quite explained all the way. I'd actually say that this might have been an even better story without that added element. It honestly just seemed a little strange within what was basically a civil war historical forbidden romance story.

I do think that this was still a pretty enjoyable read. Despite being very slow to start, I did like the story. I just think that it could have been better as an original historical romance. This obviously isn't my genre and I was probably just the wrong person to read this in the first place. I'd definitely recommend it to fans of historical romance and (probably) fans of the fairy tale of Tam Lin.

°o°  Notes on the Audiobook  °o°
Dorothy Dillingham Blue was a very enjoyable narrator! She did a great job with the southern accents, although it was obvious at times that she was not from Mississippi herself. It's hard to get that accent right without sounding ridiculous, so two thumbs up! I'd definitely listen to another book with her as the reader!