The Midnight Dress Review

The Midnight Dress ReviewThe Midnight Dress by Karen Foxlee
Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers on October 8, 2013
Genres: Mystery
Pages: 288
Source: ARC borrowed thru Around the World ARC Tours

Quiet misfit Rose doesn't expect to fall in love with the sleepy beach town of Leonora. Nor does she expect to become fast friends with beautiful, vivacious Pearl Kelly, organizer of the high school float at the annual Harvest Festival parade. It's better not to get too attached when Rose and her father live on the road, driving their caravan from one place to the next whenever her dad gets itchy feet. But Rose can't resist the mysterious charms of the town or the popular girl, try as she might.

Pearl convinces Rose to visit Edie Baker, once a renowned dressmaker, now a rumored witch. Together Rose and Edie hand-stitch an unforgettable dress of midnight blue for Rose to wear at the Harvest Festival—a dress that will have long-lasting consequences on life in Leonora, a dress that will seal the fate of one of the girls. Karen Foxlee's breathtaking novel weaves friendship, magic, and a murder mystery into something moving, real, and distinctly original.

Midnight Thoughts:

~ I was so excited when I heard about this book- the title alone belongs on my blog!  But when I started to read the first few pages I got a little nervous.  The style of writing was not something I’ve come to expect in YA- although I don’t know if I’d categorize this as YA, it’s one of those books that refuse to be put in a box.   That turned out to be a awesomely good thing.

~ This book is beautifully tragically magical.  It’s a book that is going to mess you up and break your heart a bit.  Again, this is a good thing.

~ The setting of the book in 1980’s Australia.  Which I did not figure out right away, but I figured it out sooner than I would have because I saw someone else mention it on Goodreads.  Does the time setting make a huge difference? Not a huge one, but I think knowing it makes the book even better.

~ Do girls still get this excited over dresses?  Or do we take new clothes for granted too much now?  As much as I love modern conveniences and the fact that I can vote, work, own land and all that, there is part of me that longs for more simple times.  I really loved how excited and focused the girls were on the Harvest Parade, because I remember the 80’s and dresses for the dance were still very important.

~ I can’t sew.  I’ve never been good at anything particularly domestic and I’m okay with that.  This book makes me wish I had an old, Australian witch to teach me to sew a midnight dress (or at least a dress for the FairieCon East ball I’m going to in November).  The time that Rose spends with Edie was magical, and everyone needs an Edie in their lives.

~ I have to take a moment to discuss Pearl’s bedroom.  It’s full of maps, stars and quotes.  String it with fairy lights, and I’d be happy to call it mine.

~ Edie doesn’t charge to make dresses, she merely insists the girl helps.  Her house is cluttered with fabric and odds and ends, and I know some of my more craftier friends would probably enjoy it as much as I enjoy the description of Pearl’s room.

~ While we’re on the subject of cool locations- the house in the trees!  How have I not forced The Hubs to build one for me?

~ The crush Pearl had on Paul Rendell was kind of creepy- not from her perspective, but his.  I had lots of crushes on older guys as a young girl, but I’m pretty sure it would have been another experience altogether to have that crush returned.

~ There is so much I want to say about this book- how this is not a happy book.  How it is a thrilling one, regardless of the sadness.  How so many wonderful words are strung together much like Pearl’s name.  How the ending was one that both did and didn’t surprise me.

~ There’s so much I want to say about this book, so much I want to discuss, but since the whole book is wrapped up in mystery, we’ll just have to wait until you read it.


Timeless Characters:

 Rose Lowell- 15, wanders like a gypsy with her father, loves words and dark things.

Pearl Kelly- golden girl who befriends Rose, writes in a rainbow of highlighters.

Edie Baker- old, eccentric, dress maker, rumored witch.

Patrick Lowell- Rose’s charming, handsome, unreliable father.

Mrs. Lamond- runs the caravan park where Rose and her dad live.

Pattie Kelly- Pearl’s equally adorable mother.

Detective Glass- investigates the disappearance of one of the girls.

Maxine, Vanessa, Shannon- friends of Pearl’s and Rose’s, part of the Harvest Parade.

Murray- class clown, adorkable.

Jonah Pedersen- a bad kisser.

Tom Coyne- a good kisser.

Paul Rendell- runs the Blue Moon Book Exchange (which I loved), and flirts with a smitten Pearl.

Bear Oslov- Pearl’s father, whom she has never met and tries to find.


Midnight Moment:

 All of Edie’s stories about her family!!  I could have read a whole book based just on her stories.

And the very end of the book, and who comes to town.  Just beautiful- again, in a completely heartbreaking way. 😉

Stop The Clock:

 Yes, you should read this book.  Everyone should.  I am declaring it required reading for book bloggers.

Karen Foxlee — Website | Facebook

The Midnight Dress gets a Midnight Book Rating of:




  1. says

    When I heard about The Midnight Dress, I was really excited but worried that it was just hype. It’s good to hear that you read and liked it a lot too. Sounds like I’ll be adding it to my list!

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