Midnight in Everwood

Midnight in Everwood

M.A. Kuzniar

4.5 out of 5

A spell-binding retelling of The Nutcracker, filled with enchanted toys, decadent balls, fierce feminine friendships and a forbidden romance. For fans of The Toymakers, Caraval and The Bear and the Nightingale.

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.

Marietta wishes to avoid suitors and family duty; and follow her passion for ballet. On Christmas Eve, she falls through a clock and ends up in a world of ice and sugar; where she becomes the new toy for a cruel king.

I received a free copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
I've not seen any form of the Nutcracker before, so I don't know how closely it follows the original ballet/story.

It is the early 1900's, and the world is changing; but not fast enough for Marietta. She is soon to turn 21, and after years rejecting suitors, her parents have told her that she will have to accept a proposal in the New Year.
All Marietta wants is to keep dancing, and will go to any lengths to follow her dreams to be a professional ballet dancer.
When their mysterious new neighbour Dr Drosselmeier takes a keen interest in her, Marietta sees past his easy charm, and senses something dangerous.

She escapes him into another world, one full of ice and sugar, and strangely welcoming people that all tell her to leave.
Marietta ignores the warnings, and soon becomes a "guest" of the king, and his inescapable palace.

I really enjoyed this. As I mentioned previously, I don't know how heavily it borrowed from the originals; but I loved the world, it was simply magical.
The magic is easy to follow, and although Marietta rarely leaves the palace, you get to learn about the rest of Everwood and the world; thanks to her roommates Pirlipata and Dellara.

I loved how the friendship developed between the three women. Marietta has never had close female friends, and doesn't know how to act around them. It always hovers in the background, whether she can trust them; but it turns into something strangely positive in the dark months Marietta is trapped.
There's also the sweet romance brewing between Marietta and one of the soldiers.

I thought that there were a couple of blips in Marietta's reasoning - mainly her attitude when she first went into the castle. And later on, when her judgement seems a bit too focussed on her secret romance, rather than the bigger picture she has been so faithful to.

Also - small note - yes for setting the story in the UK that is Not-London!

Overall, this was a great story, and I look forward to more of this author's work.


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