Thursday, January 6, 2022

Review: Midnight in Everwood by M.A. Kuzniar

Midnight in Everwood by M.A. Kuzniar
Publication Date: October 28th, 2021
Hardcover. 384 pages.

About Midnight in Everwood:

"A spell-binding retelling of The Nutcracker, filled with enchanted toys, decadent balls, fierce feminine friendships and a forbidden romance. For fans of The Toymakers, Caraval and The Bear and the Nightingale. 

There’s nothing Marietta Stelle loves more than ballet, but after Christmas, her dreams will be over as she is obligated to take her place in Edwardian society. While she is chafing against such suffocating traditions, a mysterious man purchases the neighbouring townhouse. Dr Drosselmeier is a charming but calculating figure who wins over the rest of the Stelle family with his enchanting toys and wondrous mechanisms. 

When Drosselmeier constructs an elaborate set for Marietta’s final ballet performance, she discovers it carries a magic all of its own. On the stroke of midnight on Christmas Eve, she is transported to a snowy forest, where she encounters danger at every turn: ice giants, shadow goblins and the shrieking mist all lurk amidst the firs and frozen waterfalls and ice cliffs. After being rescued by the butterscotch-eyed captain of the king’s guard, she is escorted to the frozen sugar palace. At once, Marietta is enchanted by this glittering world of glamorous gowns, gingerbread houses, miniature reindeer and the most delicious confectionary. 

But all is not as it seems and Marietta is soon trapped in the sumptuous palace by the sadistic King Gelum, who claims her as his own. She is confined to a gilded prison with his other pets; Dellara, whose words are as sharp as her teeth, and Pirlipata, a princess from another land. Marietta must forge an alliance with the two women to carve a way free from this sugar-coated but treacherous world and back home to follow her dreams. Yet in a hedonistic world brimming with rebellion and a forbidden romance that risks everything, such a path will never be easy."

Midnight in Everwood is a dazzling, magical story filled to the brim with lush settings and a nearly limitless imagination. 

I have grown to really enjoy any sort of Nutcracker-inspired story or retelling over the years, and when I heard about Midnight in Everwood and saw that beautiful cover, it quickly became a book I knew I had to pick up and read over the holiday season. What I got was the perfect winter reading experience, although I will admit that I didn't love the characters quite as much as I loved everything else about the book. 

Midnight in Everwood has an extremely strong and compelling start. We follow Marietta, who dreams of being a professional and successful ballet dancer, but is unfortunately not allowed to have this dream due to her obligations of a high society family where she is meant to be married off to carry on the family name–and dancing would never be appropriate for this! Things in town get a bit more exciting when the mysterious Dr. Drosselmeier moves in next door and everyone clamors to gain his attentnion. It is Marietta's parents dream come true when he develops an interest in Marietta, and unfortunately for her it is her worst nightmare, Drosselmeier seems a bit more sinister than appearances let on, and Marietta does not want to marry anyone, especially not Drosselmeier. 

I could not get enough of Everwood itself and how truly gorgeous it is. Kuzniar clearly has a talent for creating truly magical settings with no real limit to her imagination. Everything in Everwood is that sort of saccharine sweet that is beautiful to look at, but just a bit too much when you get to close to it. There is an elegance and allure to the artistry of the buildings and surroundings, but also the slightest edges of darkness and something that just hints of overindulgence. I was so intrigued by this world and am so appreciative that the author let us spend so much time in this world, although I do wish there had been a bit more time spent outside of the frozen sugar palace Marietta is taken to. 

As much as I loved the prose and settings of this book, I do feel as though the plot was slightly lacking at times. I also found myself rather annoyed with Marietta on more than a few occasions because of how rude and insensitive she often seemed, for lack of a better descriptor. I'm not someone who needs characters to be nice or friendly or anything, but Marietta's character just felt poorly developed at times and almost cold in her actions to an extent where I didn't feel that connected to her or cared overmuch for her choices or outcomes. The rest of the characters were interesting enough, but they were never really developed quite enough for me to get overly close to them. Still, Kuzniar gave each character a thoughtful background that I think really helped to develop the entire story and plot. I found Drosselmeier to be the most captivating out of all the characters, and I actually wish we had gotten to spend just a bit more time with him and his mystifying persona.  

Overall, I've given Midnight in Everwood 3.75 stars! Although I didn't love everything about this book, I still really enjoyed my experience reading it and think it was the perfect December book. I would absolutely recommend it to anyone looking for a bit of magic and lush settings combined with some darkness and danger. 

Buy the book: Amazon |


  1. I don't think I've ever read a Nutcracker retelling. This sounds intriguing, and if Drosselmeier is anything like the one in the ballet, I remember him being rather sinister there as well😁

  2. That cover is gorgeous, and the setting sounds amazing as well!