Monday, February 7, 2011

Midsummer Night - Freda Warrington


About the Book

Decades ago, in a place where the veil between our world and the world of the Aetherials—the fair folk—is too easily breached, three young people tricked their uncle by dressing as the fey. But their joke took a deadly turn when true Aetherials crossed into our world, took one of the pranksters, and literally scared their uncle to death.

Many years later, at the place of this capture lies a vast country estate that holds a renowned art facility owned by a visionary sculptor. One day, during a violent storm, a young woman studying art at the estate stumbles upon a portal to the Otherworld. A handsome young man comes through the portal and seeks shelter with her. Though he can tell her nothing of his past, his innocence and charm capture her heart. But he becomes the focus of increasingly violent arguments among the residents of the estate. Is he as innocent as he seems? Or is he hiding his true identity so that he can seek some terrible vengeance, bringing death and heartbreak to this place that stands between two worlds? Who is this young man?

The forces of magic and the power of love contend for the soul of this man, in this magical romantic story of loss and redemption.

I read this book, then read some reviews for it, sat back and wondered if I missed something important. You see, it’s not that Warrington’s writing is bad, or the concept of the book is half thought out. It’s that despite the fact that the book is interesting and the characters are new, vibrant and unique, there was very little here that held my attention and drove me to turn the pages.

Midsummer Night is a stand-alone book, though it is in the same series as Elfland. You do not need to read Elfland to understand Midsummer Night. I really enjoyed Elfland, which is rather a surprise when you consider that an odd love triangle took up a good portion of the book and I tend to have an allergic reaction toward romance. Thus, when I saw Midsummer Night at the library, I picked it up without a second thought.

Midsummer Night is fairly small, easy to read and self contained, which is appealing. Warrington’s use of fantasy blending with reality is a good way for readers to relate to the world and situations she writes about. This isn’t an action packed book, it’s a book about a woman’s inner journey, tinged with some paranormal. The insight into an individual’s personal journey is interesting and rather compelling.

However, where Elfland was filled with memorable characters that lived past the pages they inhabited and a vibrant world along with fantastically unique situations, Midsummer Night was a pale comparison. Gill, the protagonist, was rather lackluster and easy to forget and quickly became overshadowed by Dame J, an interesting character who seems to breath much needed life into the pages she inhabits. The Scottish countryside the book takes place in had a lot of potential to be vibrant, colorful and take my breath away but it never quite made it past “interesting.”

It should be noted that Midsummer Night does improve upon several issues that bothered me in Elfland. For example, Elfland suffered from a little bit of soap opera syndrome and there was none of that in Midsummer Night. Also, Elfland had some issues with believability between familial relationships and the relationships between the aetherials and humans in general. Again, those had been fixed in Midsummer Night.

The lack of a powerful lead character mixed with a rather pastel world really hurt the overall impact of the book rather than helped it. The plot had a lot of potential but it sadly missed the mark, and none of Warrington’s beautiful prose could save it. Though it should be noted that Warrington’s writing really is the best part of this book. She truly has a way with words that pulls the reader in; it’s just unfortunate that her amazing writing couldn’t salvage this rather lackluster book.

I am making this book sound horrible, and it’s really not. There are some redeeming qualities. For example, Warrington’s subtle take on the supernatural is refreshing. Midsummer Night lacks the odd love triangle that Elfland contained, which was also a huge plus. Though Gill wasn’t a huge hit with me and seemed about as interesting (in parts) as a brick wall, some of the characters in the book were very well done. As I noted above, Midsummer Night also does improve upon many of the problems I noticed in Elfland. Plus, there is a bit of mystery in these pages which really helped to revive the dull portions and keep me reading to see how it would all click together.

All in all, Midsummer Night was a huge disappointment for me and left me feeling like this book was “same old, same old” rather than unique, as I’m sure it was meant to be. I was expecting Elfland quality and instead Midsummer Night ended up being a pale comparison. However, this is a book filled with a little of everything from a woman’s personal journey, a touch of romance, some mystery and supernatural all woven into the beautiful Scottish countryside. I just regret that this book wasn’t more vibrant than it ended up being. Warrington’s prose is flawless. While Midsummer Night didn’t really do it for me, it was an enjoyable read which allowed me to detach from reality for several long spells of time. Even though it seemed to lack the color and depth of it’s predecessor, it is still easy to enjoy as long as you don’t read it expecting too much out of it.

3.5/5 stars 

2 comments:

  1. Great review! I did really enjoy this one, but it was not nearly as enjoyable or as vibrant as Elfland. Like you, I thought there were some improvements, but overall it wasn't quite as riveting. Dame J was the character who really stole the show for me as well, and she had much more personality than Gill.

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  2. Thanks for the compliments on my review. I did enjoy this book - but not nearly as much as I expected to. I think that's why it was so difficult for me. I expected a lot and felt very let down and that just sucks...

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