*** (3 of 5)
Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale
Midnight in Austenland is the sequel to Austenland. I really really liked Austenland, buuuut unfortunately Midnight in Austenland didn’t live up to its namesake (Lets see how many times I can say “Austenland” before it gets old).
I was so excited to read this book. Maybe that was part of the problem. My expectations were too high going in? Maybe if I hadn’t have been so excited I would have liked it better? Probably not.
The plot of Midnight in Austenland was a mix between suspense and romance. It was a far stretch from the original Austenland, which was straight up romance. (Not steamy romance, but like a love story romance)
Time for a tangent …. I am a huge chicken when it comes to scary or suspenseful books. And I refuse to watch scary movies. Even scary commercials are too much for me. One time at the movie theater they showed a commercial for one of those creepy doll movies (Annabelle maybe?) and my heart rate literally spiked. I had a fitbit that kept track of my heart rate. It thought I was exercising. Thats how bad it was. And it was only a commercial. My body physically reacts to being scared and I don’t like it. (Maybe everyone’s does? I don’t know, but personally its too much for me) I couldn’t imagine what my heart would do if I had to sit through a full movie. Last time I went through a haunted house I had a panic attack and my mom had to take me out the way we came. (I was 12 ish) Another time on a school overnight retreat the upperclassmen made a “haunted house” and all the underclassmen “got” to go through it. Everyone else had a ton of fun, it definitely was meant to be fun, not mean, but I hated it. Just thinking back I can feel my heart start to race. So, yea, I don’t do scary
Back to the review … While Austenland was loosely based on Pride and Prejudice, Midnight in Austenland tends toward Northanger Abbey. The heroine has a very active imagination and she is thrust into a world that is not as it seems. Her stay at Austenland is themed by a mystery. (think murder-mystery dinner but 2 weeks long and you are solving a really old mystery) As she is searching for clues she finds more than whats intended and she can’t tell the game from real life.
At one point they play a game in the dark where one person is the “murderer” and everyone tries to find them. The heroine is obviously flustered and unsure but everyone else presses her to play anyway. This hit a little to close to home. When I read I often get lost in the story and connect with the heroine, so them forcing her to play made me uncomfortable and brought back memories of makeshift haunted houses. I did not like it at all.
So my biggest issue with the book was the plot. I am sure there are tons of people who love the suspenseful plotline, but it ruined the story for me.
You may be asking “If she hated it so much why did she give it 3 stars?”
Well I am glad you asked!
I didn’t actually hate it. It just wasn’t my cup of tea. I can tell that it is a good book, and that most people who enjoyed the first book would probably like it. And there were parts I liked. I liked the heroine, Charlotte. I liked how she was introduced. How she was described in the beginning. It made her especially relatable. I also liked how the story jumped back and fourth between present and past. It made her so much more real, seeing how she handled different situations. And it brought you there gradually. Showing you what you needed to fully understand why she reacted the way she did.
So overall the book was just okay, if you like suspense and romance I would recommend it. If you are like me and don’t like suspense then I would probably skip this one.