by Shannon Hale
So. First off, I have no idea what Hale is up to, but she published two books last year–this one, and a sequel to The Princess Academy—Palace of Stone. I read both of them within the last month (actually, I think I’ve read almost all of Hale’s books in the last couple of months, as I read all the Bayern books and Austenland as well), and I think that she may have devoted more of her talent to Palace of Stone, which I greatly enjoyed, and not enough into Midnight in Austenland, which was a disaster.
Midnight is a loose sequel to the original Austenland. While our heroine from the original book does not return, the setting is the same, and several of the minor characters are back for Round 2, and overall it makes sense to read the two books in order.
Except you should stop after you read the first book, and not bother moving on to this one, unless you enjoy unnecessarily convoluted plots lines, a murder that no one seems to care about, a murderer whose motive makes absolutely zero sense, and a completely depressing heroine who has dragged along the apparently necessary modern-day story of a woman whose divorced because her husband left her for someone else and now she has to find herself because her entire identity was just her husband before and now that he’s gone what will she do well what she will do is find out that she’s a strong and independent woman who can live life on her own and be witty and clever and pretty and super funny and she can realize that her husband was a sleezeball and that it’s entirely his fault that their marriage fell apart because she’s actually perfect and made the ideal wife and never made any mistakes and it’s all the fault of that slimy husband because men are terrible unless they happen to be this one handsome dude with a British accent that she just met who is actually perfect.
Just. Whatever. I’m just tired of stories about divorced people. I realize that lots of people are divorced, so maybe they relate to this, but I’m tired of my fiction being filled with bitter, depressing women and stereotyped stupid men who can’t keep it in their pants. It. Is. BORING. Divorce happens because two people have decided to not work through their difficulties before one of them started cheating on the other. I’m not saying that anyone is ever justified for cheating on his/her spouse (at ALL) but I’m tired of the assumption being that the cheater is the only person who did anything wrong, ever. Anyway.
So yes. Where Austenland was fluffy and funny and light-hearted, Midnight is depressing and bitter. It has its moments of cleverness and funny lines that made me laugh, but the overall story was just so weak (seriously, the whole murder made no sense) and Charlotte is completely uninteresting to me as a person.