*I received a copy from the publisher via Netgalley in return for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book.*
Marietta Stelle was born to dance, but she must put her dreams aside after Christmas as obligations must take precedence. Struggling to maintain a balance between her traditions and goals, the answer comes in the form of an eclectic toymaker who moved in next door. Dr Drosselmeier is charming and has her entire town wrapped around his finger. When Drosselmeier promises Marietta an elaborate set for her final performance, the last thing she ever expects is to be transported into a snowy forest and rescued by a guard who escorts her to a palace made from sugar and dreams. Marietta is enchanted, but the thrill doesn’t last long when she realises she is now held captive by King Gelum. And Marietta’s only choice is to dance or starve. Now confined to her sugar prison, Marietta must work with the King’s other captives if they want to escape alive. And in this sugar-coated world, Marietta can’t trust anyone.
Oh dear, I had such high hopes for this one. Midnight in Everwood is sweet and dream-like, but I was not a fan of the overall story. Reading this was a rollercoaster of emotions of being set up to witness a thrilling tale, only to reach the end and find out it really wasn’t all that memorable.
The story begins in Edwardian society, and it is evident how restricting the world is for Marietta. The Christmas performance is her last time before she must give up her pointe shoes. When she is transported to Everwood, the change is instant. The influence of the Nutcracker really shines through in worldbuilding. Whimsical barely scratches the surface of what Marietta witnesses in Everwood. I really loved the detail and information we see about Everwood and its surrounding areas. There is lore and knowledge that captivated me, and it’s such a shame that much of it isn’t particularly relevant to the story.
I can see what Kuzniar was trying to do when she was building Marietta. A girl who is desperate to keep her passion alive in a very restrictive world. I wanted to feel proud and empowered by her decisions, but the execution falls flat. Her attitude is very inconsistent, and her judgement is all over the place. The plot is just repetitive: Marietta gets in trouble, someone else taking the fall for her actions while she moans about her position. The growth of her character feels like it was just dumped towards the end. The supporting characters almost seem to be propped up like cardboard, with no voice or life of their own except to deal with Marietta’s moaning. The villain had so much potential to be much more terrifying if the story even focused on him. The best way I could describe Marietta’s journey is incomplete. She doesn’t feel completely present in the story, which is such a shame because the level of detail we receive about the world doesn’t feel fully utilised in the story that is told here.
Overall, Midnight in Everwood is a sweet reimagining, but I have to admit it was definitely not my style. But I can see this book finding a home in another reader, someone who is more passionate about winter fairytales and sugary whirlwind adventures.