Book Review: MIDNIGHT IN EVERWOOD by M. A. Kuzniar

Title in white on a blue snowy forest
Genre: Fantasy
Age Range: Adult
Star Rating:
Series: standalone

Synopsis:

Book cover for MIDNIGHT IN EVERWOOD: title in pinkish orange in front of a blue-tone paper cut image of a ballet dancer in a snowy wood

There’s nothing Marietta Stelle loves more than ballet, but after Christmas, her dreams will be over as she is obligated to take her place in Edwardian society. While she is chafing against such suffocating traditions, a mysterious man purchases the neighbouring townhouse. Dr Drosselmeier is a charming but calculating figure who wins over the rest of the Stelle family with his enchanting toys and wondrous mechanisms.

When Drosselmeier constructs an elaborate set for Marietta’s final ballet performance, she discovers it carries a magic all of its own. On the stroke of midnight on Christmas Eve, she is transported to a snowy forest, where she encounters danger at every turn: ice giants, shadow goblins and the shrieking mist all lurk amidst the firs and frozen waterfalls and ice cliffs. After being rescued by the butterscotch-eyed captain of the king’s guard, she is escorted to the frozen sugar palace. At once, Marietta is enchanted by this glittering world of glamorous gowns, gingerbread houses, miniature reindeer and the most delicious confectionary.

But all is not as it seems and Marietta is soon trapped in the sumptuous palace by the sadistic King Gelum, who claims her as his own. She is confined to a gilded prison with his other pets; Dellara, whose words are as sharp as her teeth, and Pirlipata, a princess from another land. Marietta must forge an alliance with the two women to carve a way free from this sugar-coated but treacherous world and back home to follow her dreams. Yet in a hedonistic world brimming with rebellion and a forbidden romance that risks everything, such a path will never be easy.

Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


Review:

MIDNIGHT IN EVERWOOD is a magical fairy tale of a retelling of the Nutcracker that is at once whimsical and dark. I read this curled up under a blanket, with Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker playing and a mug of dark hot chocolate to hand – and I cannot think of a more perfect way to read the book. It is gorgeously written, full of snow and ice, perfect for short days and long nights.

To further the fairy tale feel, and embrace the land of the sweets, most of the descriptions are using food metaphors (this is a book to read after you’ve eaten so you don’t feel constantly hungry!) It’s just so luxurious and decadent feeling, with a simmering undercurrent of wrong from the king and how he rules.

This book is a feminist reimagining of both the ballet and its (much darker and more questionable) source materials. Transported to Everwood for rejecting a man’s proposal to “teach her a lesson”, Marietta finds herself trapped by a king who wants the indulgence of lavish balls and everyone at his beck and call. He has imprisoned a woman who will not marry him and punishes Marietta when she stops dancing from physical pain. It is a story of discovering your own strength to stand your ground and chose to be the only one shaping your life, and of women fighting together to free themselves from possessive men.

The romance is a very slow burn, and is a subplot of the book, which was definitely very much my thing (and a nice change from reading two very explicit fantasy romances before!) I liked the really stoic love interest, and the layers slowly peeled back.

Overall, it is a brilliant adult debut, and I can’t wait to see what Maria Kuzniar does next in adult (her MG is also stunning, and has a very different feel to this.)


Read my reviews of other books by M. A. Kuzniar:

Middle Grade (as Maria Kuzniar):

The Ship of Shadows:

3 thoughts on “Book Review: MIDNIGHT IN EVERWOOD by M. A. Kuzniar

  1. The synopsis does not make it sound like an adult book, what with all the toys and gingerbread houses! I am most intrigued. Sounds like a perfect Christmas read for those of us who prefer a little magic and feminism with our eggnog!

    Liked by 1 person

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