Published by Hot Key Books on October 8th 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Mystery, Young Adult
Source: Given From Publisher
Quiet misfit Rose doesn't expect to fall in love with the sleepy beach town of Leonora. Nor does she expect to become fast friends with beautiful, vivacious Pearl Kelly, organizer of the high school float at the annual Harvest Festival parade. It's better not to get too attached when Rose and her father live on the road, driving their caravan from one place to the next whenever her dad gets itchy feet. But Rose can't resist the mysterious charms of the town or the popular girl, try as she might.
Pearl convinces Rose to visit Edie Baker, once a renowned dressmaker, now a rumored witch. Together Rose and Edie hand-stitch an unforgettable dress of midnight blue for Rose to wear at the Harvest Festival—a dress that will have long-lasting consequences on life in Leonora, a dress that will seal the fate of one of the girls. Karen Foxlee's breathtaking novel weaves friendship, magic, and a murder mystery into something moving, real, and distinctly original.
*Thank you so much Hot Key Books for this review copy, this in no way affected my review*
The Midnight Dress is very hard for me to describe, because it’s not my usual read. I was really fascinated with the blurb and the whole idea encasing it, so I decided to take the jump and request it. It’s a story about friendship, mystery and things that are not as they seem. First of all, Foxlee’s writing style is probably the most beautiful I’ve read in a while. I have certain preference when it comes to author’s writing; for example, I really don’t like Cassandra Clare’s writing. As much as I love her fantastic world and characters, her description is stuffy and feels like it’s suffocating me. I’m no expert, but I simply want it edited. Anyway, Foxlee’s vivid description is the kind that washes over you when you’re reading it. I also loved the fact that it was set in Australia, which made the description that much more captivating.
It was very different the way Foxlee carried me through the book and let me discover things, about Rose specifically. We learn about her mostly through the story and not through her thoughts, because it’s in a certain style of third person. There’s an incredibly subtle magical element that intrigued me, and weaves in the story quite well.
The thing that I didn’t like was the epic slowness of the book. I can appreciate the build of tension, but Karen Foxlee builds tension throughout practically the whole book, and things aren’t made clear until the very end.
I loved that every chapter is named after a stitch, for example ‘anchor stitch’ and at the beginning of each chapter a little snippet of the ending is revealed. We see the missing person’s case through the detectives eyes, and little pieces of what happens at the end are shown carefully. I thought that was really crafty and well-written. Except, it kept me wanting to know more, and then I felt like the actual chapter itself was a bit anti-climactic and boring. I mostly enjoyed the tension, and the way the characters developed different relationships. So much of the book tells what’s happening to Rose and about everyone else and their antics in the town it seems as if the ending was an afterthought, except it’s always present. I can’t help but feel that doesn’t make sense, but if you read it, hopefully you would understand my ramblings better.
The Midnight Dress is very hard to describe without giving anything at all away, but I can tell you, the ending is a shocker. Foxlee cleverly played against my assumptions and twisted it into something completely different. I was pretty shocked. This is a great read if you like tension, beautiful writing, ambiguity and slow-burning mysteries. It’s not something to read if you want something fast-paced and conventional.
Rating: 3 Stars– I guess it was the slowness that put me off. Nothing really happened for a good portion of the books as everything builds up. However, I did simply adore the writing style and the way the characters relationships developed throughout. I will definitely check more of Foxlee’s books.