As an avid fan of Nickerson’s first novel, “Strands of Bronze and Gold,” her sophomore follow-up “The Mirk and the Midnight Hour” was one of the novels I most highly anticipated this year. Set in the south at the start of the Civil War, its protagonist, the teenaged Violet Delancey, finds her world changing rapidly. Her father is off to war, and has left behind a new stepmother and sister, and a young cousin has also recently been deposited at the family farm. In addition, the arrival of mysterious group of travelers in town, coincides with the discovery of a Union soldier hidden in the woods.
What I enjoyed most: As with her previous novel, I found it very easy to get involved in this novel. Nickerson is a strong storyteller, and for the most part allows the reader to suspend disbelief.
Where I struggled: The language was not always consistent- the story will grab you, but occasionally you’ll be struck by the odd word here or there that just doesn’t sit right. Example: an old woman who uses the word “yup.” Eh… no. Some of the characters can be a bit too one dimensional. Some characters (like Violet) get a lot of love, whereas others rely too heavily on existing stereotypes (ex. Sunny… who is the WORST). Pacing was also off- I got bogged down in the middle of the novel, and in my opinion it took way too long to get to the meat of the story (around the 40% mark).
Overall, a fun read- though I have to admit “Strands” continues to be my favorite of the two. Looking forward to Nickerson’s third novel! “The Mirk and the Midnight Hour” is on shelves now and available for purchase from Amazon.com.
Side note: “The Mirk and the Midnight Hour” is an inventive re-telling of the legend of Tam Lin. I highly recommend doing a Google search for the original story AFTER you’ve finished the book as you will definitely be impressed with the imaginative way that Nickerson weaves aspects of the traditional into her novel.
xo The Book Bird