Friday, June 1, 2012

Midnight in Austenland Review

Okay, so I know I said I didn't want to review parts of series, especially since I didn't review the first on this series. However, this book isn't exactly a sequel to Austenland  and I have much to say about it.

Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale begins with an introduction to our heroine Charolette Constance Kinder, a divorcee with two children. After drowning herself in her work, she decides to take a vacation to England. After reading Jane Austen, she decides she would like a Jane Austen vacation. She then decides on Pembrook Park, which offers a unique vacation experience. Visitors dress in Regency era garb and are entertained and wooed by actors hired to play gentlemen that resemble the men in Jane Austen's books. They are assigned a woman to woo, offering a marriage proposal at the end of the two weeks. When Charolette arrives, she is unsure where the role ends and reality begins. There is a mystery at Pembrook Park,  but is it just a story or is it a real live mystery? How much are the actors hiding? Charolette discovers all this and more.

If you haven't read Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen, this book might not make a lot of sense at times. There are a lot of references to Northanger, and having read it will amplify the experience of reading this book. But don't let that stop you from reading it. However, while having read Northanger will amplify the reading experience it will also make it suck for the last hundred pages.

There are two mysteries in this novel- one that is just a story and one that is straight out of a Nancy Drew novel. They are both interesting, but I felt the first mystery was tied up a little too quickly in order to make way for the second one. It was also a little anti-climatic. However, the second mystery completely took over the entire plot. Personally I left the second mystery was a bit much, and the longer it was prolonged, the more I was thinking, "Please stop. This is enough. This is one of the Gothic novels I was warned about." The romance aspect also got a little ridiculous at times. However, in typical Austen fashion, all the characters lived happily ever after, except for the villain.

While I preferred Austenland, this book was not bad by any stretch of the imagination.  The characters were believable, there were some old and new faces. It actually made me want to read Austenland again, so I can see what was new and what was already there. If you like Jane Austen and/or a mysteries, you will likely enjoy this book.

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