I tend to love Civil War Era novels. This may be because the absolute horror of the time tends to lend itself really well to dramatic tension.  The conflicts present in Jane Nickerson‘s The Mirk and Midnight Hour most certainly could have made for a lot of high tension drama, but, unfortunately, they fell short. Ms. Nickerson introduces a wide range of themes throughout the novel; communicating with wildlife, the Civil War, slave society, voodoo, xenophobia, blended families, love, and treachery.  A strong development of any of these would have made for a really interesting story, but none were ever completely explored.

Violet is living during a time of great change. The Civil War has claimed the life of her twin brother, and taken her father away to defend the Southern way of life.  Her little corner of the world has begun to see food shortages, sacrifices for the troops, and wild marauders stealing food and livestock from homesteads. Before leaving for the war Violet’s father decides to marry, she gains a new step-sister, and a young cousin comes to stay. Amidst all of this new chaos, Violet and her little cousin Seeley stumble across Thomas, a wounded Union soldier.

There are many threads in this story.  Some of them weave together seamlessly towards a logical conclusion, others left me wanting.  Again, I fear that with so many themes introduced, there was just no way to conclude all of them. Sadly, this was the case with the one or two with which I most connected, thereby leaving me hungry for more. The above criticism does not mean that I did not enjoy the book, for I did. There were many, well “painted” scenes in which it was a pleasure to get lost. I just cannot help but feel that this book could have been so much more.

  • Posted by Karin Mendez

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