Beard Necessities (Winston Brothers, #7) real person fiction

The Mirk and Midnight Hour epub –

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

10 thoughts on “The Mirk and Midnight Hour

  1. says:

    The Mirk and Midnight Hour is blurbed as a retelling of the Scottish ballad of Tam Lin I have read and loved several versions of Tam Lin including Jane Yolen s beautifully illustrated retelling , so I am familiar with the story, and I was curious how author Jane Nickerson would translate the ballad to a Civil War setting In Nickerson s version, the heroine is seventeen year old Violet Dancey When Violet s father joins the Confederate Army, he leaves her behind in Mississippi to adjust to life with a new stepmother, stepsister, and two cousins she barely knows I am generally drawn to historical fiction, so I enjoyed the portion of the story dedicated to Violet s life, how she adjusts to the war induced changes in her life and how she comes to love and care for her cobbled together family Her changing views on slavery and her relationship with the family s slaves, if not entirely believable in a historical sense, were at least portrayed with a little depth and subtlety than in Nickerson s previous novel Strands of Bronze and Gold.The flaw in this novel, I think, was in trying to force it to be a retelling Throughout the story, the author borrows very little from the ballad The dark fairies are introduced but do not seem all that sinister, and Tam Lin himself does not make an appearance until halfway through the story His relationship with Violet seemed rushed and unrealistic The author dropped the sexual aspect of the ballad, which I can understand given that she wanted to write a PG version for young adults, but the story loses that edgier element that could have introduced flaws in both main characters as well as strengthened Violet s motivations, her reasons for wanting to save her lover The ending solidly parallels the ballad, but by that point, the hoodoo and the supernaturally charged climax seemed like deus ex machina and strangely out of place Given the historical setting and the source material, this should have been a five star book, but the combination of the two ideas just didn t work for me.

  2. says:

    Just at the mirk and midnight hour The fairy folk will ride, And they that would their true love win, At Miles Cross they must bide The Ballad of Tam Lin 3.5 out of 5 starsWhile this book deserves a round of applause for retelling such an obscure folk tale, it didn t quite live up to the hype of its sibling, Strands of Bronze and Gold.It s 1862, and with the Civil War blasting full steam ahead, it s starting to take its toll on everyone We were free and independent We hoped for little or no bloodshed, that they d let us depart from the Union peacefully We were innocent and stupid then And sinful to be jolly over such a terrible thing But we didn t know Violet Dancey is one of those individuals she lost her beloved twin brother Rush in battle Grieving at the loss of her best friend and closest confidant, she is taken aback by news from her father that not only will he be serving for the Confederate Army, he is getting remarried Now, Violet has to deal with a drug addicted stepmother, a crazy stepsister, and two cousins she barely even knows With so much change going on, it s a bit hard for her to keep a hold of her sanity But as she starts to befriend her newfound relatives especially Seely, the youngest boy , she comes to realize she enjoys their company Things drastically change though when she comes upon a wounded soldier in the woods Even worse, he s a Northerner The enemy And with strange happenings going about in the woods and on the farm, will Violet be able to keep her sanity and her secrets One thing about Jane Nickerson is that she gives a little love to some of the lesser known fairy and folk tales In a world chock full Cinderella, Snow White and Beauty and the Beast retellings, some really well known fairy tales get overlooked in favor of their famous cousins This time, she retells the old Scottish ballad Tam Lin, with some elements of Cinderella mixed into it Having not read the original source material at all, I don t know exactly what the original was about The Mirk and Midnight Hour is not a continuation of the first book in the Strands series, Strands of Bronze and Gold, but it is set in the same universe Once again, Jane Nickerson is consistent with her sumptuous writing when it comes to settings and atmosphere Her writing of the environment her characters inhabit is exquisite Her descriptions of the settings and time period are so lush and evocative it s almost like you re really there You can feel the heat of the bayou, the swarm of the honey bees, taste the honey milk they all drink before bedtime, and hear the cool gentle caress of the sultry Southern wind on your face But in this installment, I felt like she kind of got too carried away to the point that the pacing of the book suffered The beginning was kind of slow and one of the main plot points doesn t appear until about the 150 page mark Most readers will have pooped out by then, but if you persist, the pacing does pick up.Another consistent element about her writing is her broad character development Violet Dancey is a spirited, feisty protagonist who is set in her beliefs when it comes to politics and the whole idea of the Civil War in general When I thought of the Federals, my appetite fled I resented the space they took up in my brain but couldn t drive them from it We had done them no harm, and yet they swarmed down to invade our homes and murder our brothers and fathers Her views change over time as she begins to experience new things, but she still stays the same strong, spirited individual I quite liked her as a main character, even though I thought she could be a tad bit stubborn and willful But at least she had a good head on her shoulders and wasn t totally oblivious to her surroundings Unlike her stepsister Sunny Speaking of whichSunny is Violet s new stepsister The best way I can describe her is that she is exactly like Charlotte from The Princess and the Frog As in she may look like she s dumb, she may act like she s dumb, and she may seem dumb, but don t be fooled.She s dumb Pretty, petty, spoiled, stupid Sunny Sluder, who always got anything she wanted and anything anyone else wanted, for that matter was to be my stepsister And also extremely boy crazy If I could compare her to one person, it d be Charlotte from The Princess and the Frog, except I liked Charlotte The romance between Sunny and Dorian, Violet s cousin, is extremely lustful and warped She is lovesick for him, and when I mean lovesick, I mean she has it BAD It quickly gets to a point where it s dangerous than silly, which is kind of frightening considering the author wants you to sympathize with her But what she did was so reprehensible that it was kind of hard for me to do that Violet was much forgiving than I ever could have been, made even worse by the fact that she doesn t learn from her mistakes But if you can be like Violet and take her with her faults, warts and all, you ll learn to tolerate her Miss Elsa was kind and sweet in her own wistful way, a far cry from a cruel stepmother And yes, Sunny was too pretty, too flirtatious, and too wain, and not the most clever girl in the world, but if I could accept her as she was and expect nothing , I might actually enjoy her company The stepmother kind of just sits there in a drug induced haze, so there isn t much to talk about in the way of her I would have liked to have seen of her in the book though, as I feel she had the potential to be an interesting character.Thomas is the Union soldier Violet finds in the woodlands near her house and whom she eventually falls in love with, despite their obvious differences and obstacles facing them The romance between them is heartwarming, as with their relationship, Thomas helps Violet grow and change not only as a person but in her character as well I really can t think of a bad thing to say about the man He was the perfect gentleman in every sense of the word Kind, intelligent, resilient, and always willing to help, even when he is helpless himself It was my first kiss too I never had much time for romance before I wanted to be in love for it, so I waited until I was in love Gee, maybe he was too perfect, LOL One other thing that kind of irked me with this book was that there was so little voodoo and magic If you re going to market a book about voodoo and magic, than it kind of should have those elements And they were almost COMPLETELY missing, apart from the grand finale and that s no excuse for it to suddenly reappear, either And from what I ve read of the ballad that inspired this story, there s plenty of magic to go around Voodoo and hoodoo is so interesting that it s such a shame it played such a tiny role in this book For those of you who find the pacing of this book slow in the beginning, I would encourage you to stick with it, because it does pick up after the first 100 pages or so and yes, Thomas will appear, I promise you And while it doesn t excuse it entirely for its lack of magic and voodoo, this installment proves once again that the author has a knack for retelling fairytales It s such a shame she s overlooked.

  3. says:

    Also reviewed for Addicted2HeroinesAt first, I was a tad disappointed that there wasn t much magic in this one I mean, it s supposed to be a retelling of Tam Lin, right Maaaagic But Tam Lin s fairies are replaced with practitioners of voodoo, and the magic hoodoo stuff doesn t come into play much until the end.So, not a story steeped in magic.Well, unless you count the fact that Violet has some sort of affinity with bees And let s face it, unless you can order them to ATTACK , how freaking useful is that What she can do is call the bees, and they sorta sit on her and give her a feeling of calm And I think once or twice they hovered around an area that she needed to go or something.GPS Useful.Bees Not quite so much.Ok Strip all the expectations I originally had away, and this turns into a pretty decent book about a young southern girl during the Civil War.She doesn t meet Thomas the Union soldier until mid way through the story, and in the meantime you get a feel for what her life is like on a small southern farm Her mother is long dead, and she lives with her father and their two slaves, Lainey and her husband Michael Violet and Lainey grew up together like sisters, and both she and Michael are treated like family Now that Lainey has a child, Violet can feel a gap widening between them And the possibility that the War may free Lainey is also a source of unspoken tension While Violet doesn t think of Lainey as her slave, she s still afraid to talk to her about her feelings and fears On one hand she wants Lainey to be free, but on the other she doesn t want to lose her friend.I think Nickerson did a good job with Violet s character She didn t truly understand why slavery was wrong, because not only was she raised in an era that had condoned it, but her personal experience slavery was relatively benign Of course, benign to her because she wasn t a slave.It was interesting to see her grow, and have her feelings on all sorts of things including slavery change over the course of the book She was a good person, and when confronted with the truth of things, she was willing to bend her opinions.As far as a story about a girl goes, this was a fine way to pass the time.Ok I live in South Carolina, which in in the Heart of Dixie and gateway to the Bible Belt I m not technically southern, because I spent the majority of my life in Florida And while that state may be geographically southern, it ain t part of the South Or so I ve been told On numerous occasions.Still, I ve lived here read True South long enough to find myself sort of wanting to defend these guys somewhat.See, there was this one line in the book that got under my skin and crawled around It was an innocent enough statement made by Thomas to Violet, in order to calm her fears This isn t a quote, but it went something like this Don t worry the Union soldiers won t burn down civilian houses And if they do they will make sure no one is insideFirst, get real, dude This was a war Shit like that happened all the time.Besides, every southerner I know has a grandma And that grandma has a friggin list And on that list is every family home burned, every woman raped, and every item stolen from themby those Damn Yankees.Nobody holds a grudge like the Rebels Seriously.Second, it seems to be a prevailing theme in some of these books that Union soldiers were the Good Guys, fighting on God s side for nothing other than the freedom of the oppressed.Again Get real.While freeing slaves might have been the battle cry, it wasn t the only objective Now, I don t think anyone in their right mind thinks that it didn t need to happen Slavery is an ugly blight on our history, and we re still feeling the repercussions of it today.But there were lots of factors involved, slavery was just the official reason.Kind of like 9 11 was the battle cry for invading Iraq.Oil and grudges didn t have anything to do with that oneOn the whole, though, I thought Nickerson wrote an interesting story It might be a little slower than I wanted it to be, and it was definitely lighter on the retelling part than I was hoping, but it was still well written The characters stand out as the high point, with very few being truly good or evil The stepmother and stepsister are both examples of how people can straddle that line, since they each turned out to be wildly different than I originally believed.The reviews for this book run the gamut between Totally Lurved to DNF d the Sucker If you re thinking of buying this one, you might want to paw through some of the other reviews and make sure this lines up with your taste.

  4. says:

    This was one of the most racist stories I ve had the misfortune of experiencing and is also one of the most boring and badly written I would rate it zero stars if I could In fact I created an account on this website to hopefully warn potential readers against getting anywhere near this book The only reason I finished this story was because it was actually in a book on CD form and I had to travel over 30 hours with not much else to listen to Firstly, the white actress who read this story out loud was painful to listen to whenever she tried to struggle and stumble her way through the AAVE dialect of the enslaved characters, but her narration was NOWHERE NEAR how cringe worthy Jane Nickerson s book actually ended up being The fact that this story takes place in Mississippi during the Civil War and centers around a white girl and is written by a white author probably should have probably tipped me off that this is the type of historical fiction that has way too much in common with the likes of Gone With the Wind and Uncle Tom s Cabin Sadly I gave it a chance because I thought FOOLISHLY that the severely injured Union soldier mentioned in the summary would have been black and there d be some kind of profound type of racial dialogue on the status of the country when she meets him and that the person who was tending to Thomas before Violet encounters him was doing so so that they could force him into slavery WOW was I way off Allow me to specify, when Violent FINALLY meets Thomas which happens not in the first 3 chapters like you would expect, but nearly at the story s HALFWAY POINT talk about pacing issues he s white and his captors are the VanZeldts, an African family who willingly chose to come to America a few years prior despite of the fact that they knew black people in the country were held in bondage and treated worse than animals Just couldn t resist that spirit of American freedom I guess More specifically, this free African family in the South was tending to a Union solider s wounds not out of compassion for the Union cause, but because they wanted to use him as a sacrifice in a Voodoo ritual Who let this be published That s just the tip of iceberg when it comes to how mind bendingly racist this book is For one, Violet s slave Laney is referred to as a servant and Violet considers her one of her best friends After all that s how my relationships with my friends always go I force them to work for me and I consider them subhuman Funnily enough, Laney even seems to support the confederate cause, and shows no support for the Union whenever Violet talks to her I WONDER WHY There s even a scene where Violet finds out her step sister Sunny had slapped Laney, and Violet makes sure to give Sunny a stern talking to about not doing that again So glad the author included that scene to show readers that Violet is a GOOD slave owner, not a nasty mean one THERE S NO SUCH THING AS A GOOD OR KIND SLAVE OWNER NICKERSON Although that certainly doesn t stop her from trying to convince us otherwise in other Violet Laney instances and through the character of Ruby Jewel and her slave.Some noteworthy instances also included when Violent remarked on how the VanZeldts seemed alien and snake like to her because of their African ways and this was before she knew they were antagonistic Yet, who could forget the part where a VanZeldt man attempted and nearly succeeded in raping Violet The myth of the black evil rapist that fueled the lynching of thousands of innocent black men after the Civil War is encapsulated marvelously in Nickerson s prose After escaping the attempted assault a VanZeldt woman even makes sure to tell Violet that if she doesn t let her near rapist have his way with her, she ll eventually be drugged so that she ll be easier for him to rape I hope the author is ashamed And this is only what the VanZeldts were written as doing when they WEREN T casting malicious Voodoo spells on the poor unsuspecting white Southerners magical black people trope check , stripping down to loincloths to dance around a fire, drinking snake blood, or beating up an Injured Union Solider I can t believe I m not joking Characters were boring and unsurprising when they weren t racist caricatures and book was obviously double or triple the length it should have been The author s writing may in some instances be unusually atmospheric and descriptive, but that in no way makes up for every other gaping flaw it has In short, this story was blatantly racist and made me depressed to know it was published in 2014 It s sad to see that few other reviews mention the racism, but this book is pretty obviously historical fiction for one of the two Americas and it s not the black one.

  5. says:

    The Mirk and Midnight Hour is a very atmospheric and creepy novel However, in the blurb it s called a retelling of the Tam Lin ballad set in civil war era Mississippi I would say that it s barely that You don t get to the Tam Lin parts until probably the last twenty pages of the novel The rest of it is just the story of a girl who lives on a farm in Mississippi who has to deal with new family members after her father remarries and a scheming cousin Her romance with the Union soldier is underdeveloped at best The thing is that if the author had spent about fifty pages on developing the romance and fifty pages less on farm life this could have been a really compelling novel However the you don t even meet Thomas the union soldier until half way through the novel He s not even in the book long enough for you to really care about him nevertheless care about his relationship with Violet the protagonist I feel like this novel started out as one thing, was marketed as another and the final execution was this weird mishmash I m not sure if this was a pacing issue or if the author just decided to change directions halfway through the book Don t get me wrong, there were things I really enjoyed about this novel I loved most of the characters Violet, Lainey, Amenze, Miss Ruby Jewell, and especially Seeley I think that if the plotting issue had been dealt with a little differently it could have been really great Too bad.

  6. says:

    Nickerson s still coming up short on what should be fantastic books, given the setting and source material she draws from seriously, y all know I adore a good Southern gothic, and Bluebeard and Tam Lin are two of my favourite folklore pieces But Strands of Bronze and Gold didn t work, and neither did this Not enough Tam Lin the plot didn t know what it wanted to be so much of the narrative was spent on the domestic drama, the supernatural elements felt seriously shoehoerned in, especially since our Tam doesn t show up until at least a third of the way through closer to half, I think0 More egregiously, Nickerson s approach to slavery and racial politics remains so antiquated and paternalistic I am made seriously uncomfortable and am left not only questioning her own values but also those of her editors For all of her other sins, this is what made me decide tonight not to pick up another book by her in the future So, you know Good job.

  7. says:

    Before this book, I was not familiar with the tale of Tam Lin, so I came into this with no expectations I was just hoping for a good book set during the civil war This wasn t that Most of the book was normal civil war era, historical fiction, and then these paranormal elements were spattered in, until the end when it was laid on heavy It just felt totally out of place within this book I didn t get it And I thought it was stupid Without all that, this book would have been much better And I think it could have been done The book also seriously lags in places, it took forever for any action to happen It wasn t even until the half way mark that she finds the Union soldier I got a little bored at times.

  8. says:

    Excellent civil war era story that kept me on the edge of my seat and deftly incorporates fairy tale themes.Violet Dancey is a Mississippi girl, mourning the death of her twin brother, Rush, and trying to keep her family together as the war drags on Suddenly confronted with a new stepmother and stepsister, an absent father, and mysterious rumors of voodoo practitioners, she manages to find her way with strength and intelligence Everything I could tell you about this book would give the impression of fantasy, but in the end, it s a subtle portrait of a troubled time and wonderfully wrought story.

  9. says:

    Darkly delightful Tam Lin retelling The language of the writing was wonderful, fit the setting perfectly, and the characters were all so alive At times it felt like I was reading a southern, civil war era Downton Abbey Except with magic I m not sure how to classify the magic, either was it magical realism Fantasy I don t know, but I loved it Definitely a must read I think this will also have strong appeal to adults.

  10. says:

    I did not particularly enjoy Strands of Bronze and Gold However, I am fascinated by Tam Lin I did a bunch of research on this mythology for my thesis in college , so I will likely give this one a whirl.