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Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale

It’s been an extremely long time since I stayed up late – after 10:30 PM – to finish reading a book. In fact, it was over two years ago, when I read The Help. This time was different though. I was so lost in the story that I didn’t even realize I was still awake at 12:30 AM.

Midnight in Austenland is the sequel to Shannon Hale’s first Regency-esque novel, Austenland. I read Austenland earlier in the year at the adamant prompting of a past college co-worker. Pride and Prejudice is one of my favorite novels; Jane Austen one of my favorite authors. In the past, I’ve read several books that surround Elizabeth Bennet, Mr. Darcy, and the year 1816. Generally, I like them. However, Austenland severely disappointed me. It was not about Elizabeth Bennet, or Mr. Darcy, but about a modern woman who couldn’t find a date, let alone true love, and was sent on a wild adventure by a deceased relative who had hopes that the wild adventure to Bertram Hall in England would produce some romance as well. In fact, it did, but everything was wrong. Wrong, wrong, WRONG!

So why did I pick up Midnight in Austenland you ask? Well…hmm…I’ve been on a P&P kick recently, and I’m in want of 10 short books in order to meet my Goodreads challenge at the end of the year. Midnight in Austenland seemed an okay choice. After reading Austenland, I was prepared to yawn and put the book down frequently. Certainly the story and the characters wouldn’t be a let down this time – I expected the poor character development and cheesy romance.

Perhaps that extremely low expectation was why I was so utterly blown away? Perhaps a second inspection will reveal the same kind of writing found evident in the first novel? I resolve never to read it again so I never have to truly find out.

Midnight in Austenland was everything I’ve been looking for in a good book since September. A grand mystery – first a long-dead murder mystery, then a real, fresh murder mystery. A bit of unexpected romance between two people unscripted for each other. And a juicy Regency-era hunk who *spoiler* turns out to be the murderer. Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. And not cheesy at all. Well, Mrs. Cordial does seem to be almost killed a lot, but sometimes that happens, right?



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