Friday, March 19, 2010

Midnight Fires: A Mystery With Mary Wollstonecraft by Nancy Means Wright

I received this book as a part of LibraryThing's Early Reviewer program.

Mary Wollstonecraft has accepted the position as governess to the King family in Ireland. In a house full of crazy children and neglectful parents, she is charged with the education of the three oldest girls. Along the way she becomes friendly with some of the Irish tenants living nearby. This leads to murder, mystery, and intrigue - all of which she is determined to unravel.

I don't know why I request, borrow, and read mystery novels. I don't particularly like them. However, this one was rather good. While it is, technically, a murder-mystery style novel, it wasn't as formulaic as others that I've read. Mary was an amazingly written character who brought back memories of a paper I'd written about her long ago in high school. Margaret, the oldest of the King girls was also very well formed. A lot of the "extras" were easy to lose along the way, though. Lord and Lady K were so ridiculous that I had a hard time believing in them. Lady K is portrayed as fairly mentally unstable - one minute thinking herself progressive and educated and the next minute acting the simpering, flirting, airhead. I was never sure if she was not a bit insane.

While there isn't a great deal of suspense, I did find myself wanting to read more whenever I had to set the book down. I was also reminded frequently of Bronte's Jane Eyre though that is likely because I'd read it recently and that it was also centered around a governess.

The book was very enjoyable and I would not hesitate in the slightest to recommend it to others. I gather there will be another novel focusing on Mary's exploits in London and I suspect I will, at the very least, borrow it from the library.

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