The Mirk and Midnight Hour blends historical romance, suspense and the paranormal into a novel that’s a Southern Gothic tale at heart.

Violet Dancey is left to mind Scuppernong Farm in Mississippi while her father fights the Yankees. Already heartbroken by the death of her twin brother, Violet is beginning to question whether the Confederacy is in the right when she finds a wounded Union soldier named Thomas in her old childhood hideout. Their relationship turns into a romance, but it’s risky business in more ways than one.

Author Jane Nickerson juggles a large and complex cast here, and there’s voodoo, violence, mayhem, laudanum addiction and telepathic communication with bees to keep the players busy, yet the book maintains an easy pace. There’s a scary climactic scene when Violet must come between Thomas and the people who have been treating his injuries, but most of the action here is slow-burning suspense. The contrast between a community bazaar and the war roiling in the distance adds to the eerie sense of a world on the brink of big changes.

Violet’s awakening to the politics of slavery after a lifetime of friendship with people her family owned is touching and handled gracefully, giving The Mirk and Midnight Hour extra depth and something to ponder after the thrills have worn off. It’s an exciting story—juicy, romantic and at times quite chilling.

 

Heather Seggel reads too much and writes all about it in Northern California.

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