Midnight in Everwood by MA Kuzniar
Maria Kuzniar is the author of the children’s book series Aleja and the Pirates, among others, which is probably why the soft and sometimes over descriptive style in her debut adult novel Midnight in Everwood has some similarities with children’s literature. However, later in the novel this feature becomes a tool to help to create pleasant contrasts. References to The Nutcracker make it clear that Midnight in Everwood is an interpretation of the classic. Most likely, the reader will already be aware of the theme of magic in the text, but the ideological content may come as a surprise.
Nottingham, 1906 – Marietta Stelle dreams of becoming a ballerina, but in her family’s opinion she is not free of obligations and must repay her debt to society by getting married. The first chapters recall the spirit of Jane Austen, with the appearance in the city of a new eligible bachelor. The phenomenon of the “New Woman”, which emerged at the end of the 19th century, had a strong influence on the literature of that period, and Kuzniar seems to re-discover the topic of gender inequality, describing the society of this time in her novel. Unfortunately, much of it is merely repetition of ideas other authors have explored more than once before.
Marietta is a classic remarkable feminist heroines. She is smart, ambitious, and does not want to follow the conventions of patriarchal society: “She was unable to stop […] seeing herself sealed in a specimen box with a label that read, simply, ‘uxorem’, her identity reduced to a single word: Wife.” Nevertheless, her relationship with a mysterious toymaker, Dr Drosselmeier, takes a completely unexpected turn: the heroine finds herself in a sweet dystopia, a magical universe with “sugared air” and “a silence thick as clotted cream”. Longing for freedom in her world makes her stay in another one longer than she intended. Everwood turns out to be “a gilded cage” – a popular symbol of patriarchy. The way out of this place is through pain and overcoming difficulties: “Unthinkable that women should suffer so for their voice to be taken into account.”
Midnight in Everwood is a fascinating, dark feminist fairytale that will surprise its reader with unusual plot twists and a carefully built magical world. Perfect company for cozy evenings during the Christmas holidays.
Midnight in Everwood is released in the UK on 28th October 2021 at the hardback price of £14.99. For further information visit here.