Cover detail Midnight in Everwood by M.A.Kuzniar

Midnight in Everwood by M.A.Kuzniar

Welcome to Day 12 of #12booksofchristmas. We made it! I hope you've enjoyed the choices for 2021 and have picked up some ideas for Jolabokaflod, if you are doing this. I've very much enjoyed sharing these with you and have also enjoyed my mornings, sat writing my reviews up with a cup of coffee.

In case you have missed any of the previous days, I've listed them below along with last year's #12booksofchristmas list.

A couple of years ago, before the pandemic hit, I was invited by my sister to go to the ballet. We saw Cinderella performed and if I had to use one word to describe the experience, it would be magical. And clearly it wasn't just me. Little girls wearing ballerina dresses were captivated by the performance. At the interval, instead of going for delicate ice-creams, boys and girls walked to the edge of the Orchestra Pit to peer at the marvellous scenery, imagining themselves to be part of the troupe, performing pirouettes and hoping to be sprinkled with the same magic Cinderella had just enjoyed.

I find ballet wonderful. The ability of the dancers to transform their bodies with swan-like grace. As I say magical, which leads me nicely to my next review. And you will find that magical word sprinkled throughout.

The Plot

Nottingham 1906
Marietta Stelle longs to be a ballerina but as Christmas draws nearer, her dancing days are numbered. She must marry and take up her place in society in the New Year. But when a mysterious toymaker Dr Drosselmeier purchases a neighbouring townhouse, it heralds the arrival of magic and wonder in Marietta's life.
After Drosselmeier constructs an elaborate theatrical set for her final ballet performance on Christmas Eve, Marietta discovers it carries a magic all of its own - a magic darker than anyone could ever imagine. As the clock chimes midnight, Marietta finds herself transported from her family's ballroom to a frozen sugar palace, silent with secrets, in a forest of snow-topped fir trees. She must find a way to return home before she's trapped in Everwood's enchanting grip forever.

My Thoughts

Magical, Magical, Magical. This was absolutely magical. M.A. Kuzniar explained about her fascination with the story of the Nutcracker (on which this is based) and how different authors have brought their own influence over the years. In Kuzniar's edition, there are definitely changes, the biggest being Drosselmeier himself. Gone is the friendly, Werther's original Grandpa toymaker. Instead Drosselmeier is cruel and actually very scary, banishing Marietta to Everwood when she rejects his marriage proposal.

A quick note, I would not consider this to be a children's book in any way. There are a few adult themes running through the book.

The world of Everwood is extraordinary. Such imagination! Dresses that move and become as much a part of the dance as the dancer themselves, a castle made entirely of sugar and astonishing parties where every sweet treat is available and the guests are clothed depending on the theme of the party.

There is a theme of strong women and strong female friendship running throughout the book. There are no helpless princesses, swooning on a chaise longue at the first hint of trouble. Instead we are treated to 3 very different women bonded by their imprisonment, becoming friends and allies and working together to facilitate their escape.

It is wonderfully Christmassy, the lead up to the Christmas party back in Nottingham and Marietta's forthcoming performance add to the excitement of this festive time of year.

In conclusion M.A. Kuzniar has put her own stamp on the Nutcracker and it is wonderful. The physical book is stunning and it would make a wonderful Jolabokaflod for any adult. Wonderful!

So that is it from #12booksofchristmas. Wherever you are, I hope you are having time to relax and enjoy the season.

I will be back next Tuesday with my favourite reads of the year and then will be enjoying a Christmas break before wrapping up December at the end of the year. Have a great weekend.