Jane Nickerson's second novel, also set in the "Strands" world, is based on the Scottish 'Ballad of Tam Lin,' and is set in Mississippi during the Civil War. Violet Dancey, a 17-year-old whose father has left to fight in the Civil War, is forced to confront Thomas, a hurt Union solider near her home. She must decide how to approach the enemy--and how to deal with her growing attraction to him.
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Number of Pages: 384
Reviewed by Ellie, age 17
It has been a long while since I’ve read historical fiction. What with the dystopian fad started by The Hunger Games, I’ve only been able to get my hands only on novels focusing on the future, not the past. However, I managed the wrangle up The Mirk and Midnight Hour by Jane Nickerson, and I’m rather happy that I did. Focusing on the South during the Civil War, this book centers on Violet Dancey (a young Southern woman), her new stepfamily, a wounded Union solider, and a hefty dose of voodoo.
I very much enjoyed this book, and not just because of the fascinating voodoo that goes down. Violet is not a yappy character-she is, in equal turns; brave, generous, petty, caring, brutal, and curious. My favorite aspect of her is that she grows as a character. That applies to many of the characters in this book: we see Violet’s step-sister Sunny, her cousin Seeley, and her step-mother Miss Elsa grow emotionally as well.
The technical aspects of this book were impressive as well. Nickerson did a good job of making sure she didn’t fall back on to overused tropes (the wicked step-mother, the spiteful step-sister, etc.) and instead took fresh twists on each of the characters. Another aspect of the novel that Nickerson aced was the pacing: not too fast, not too slow. My only problem with the pacing came up in the end: it was too fast! No closure! But this is forgivable, as the rest of the book was perfect in that aspect. Finally, I applaud the use of description in this novel-from the setting to the clothing to the voodoo, the description helped bring the story to life.
I recommend this book to any reader looking for a captivating look at the South during the Civil War or those interested in voodoo (fans of American Horror Story: Coven, perhaps? Though admittedly, this book is a bit tamer than AHS).
This book hits shelves March of 2014!
Buy Hardcover | $16.99
Ellie, age 17
Ellie, age 17