Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale
January 2012 by Bloombury USA
"When Charlotte Kinder treats herself to a two-week vacation at Austenland, she happily leaves behind her ex-husband and his delightful new wife, her ever-grateful children, and all the rest of her real life in America. She dons a bonnet and stays at a country manor house that provides an immersive Austen experience, complete with gentleman actors who cater to the guests' Austen fantasies.
Everyone at Pembrook Park is playing a role, but increasingly, Charlotte isn't sure where roles end and reality begins. And as the parlor games turn a little bit menacing, she finds she needs more than a good corset to keep herself safe. Is the brooding Mr. Mallery as sinister as he seems? What is Miss Gardenside's mysterious ailment? Was that an actual dead body in the secret attic room? And-perhaps of the most lasting importance-could the stirrings in Charlotte's heart be a sign of real-life love?
The follow-up to reader favorite Austenland provides the same perfectly plotted pleasures, with a feisty new heroine, plenty of fresh and frightening twists, and the possibility of a romance that might just go beyond the proper bounds of Austen's world. How could it not turn out right in the end?"
I'm honestly torn between a two star rating because this book was BAD... and a three star rating because maybe - just maybe - Shannon Hale was trolling us the entire time. I'm being optimistic.
I'm hoping she was trolling us because... I just... Why? Why is this book a thing?
I walked into Midnight in Austenland with the first book (Austenland) and its movie spin off fresh in my mind.
Suffice it to say that I wasn't expecting a lot out of this book because I knew better. But never the less, I walked in, reasonably excited because I loved the goofiness of the first book.
But Midnight in Austenland was f*cking ridiculous and again - I don't know why any of it had to happen.
The main character is agonizing - Charlotte doesn't have an ounce of confidence in her body, second guesses herself at every turn, and is incredibly dull. The plot is outlandish, even for a sequel to Austenland. The events were way over the top and look - I get that Hale was trying to invoke a Gothic feel to the story... but the whole murder mystery aspect was way too crazy to ever work. Ever.
I don't know. I'm just going to move on from this and pretend it didn't happen. And if you're thinking that you'll give this story a shot, here's a bit of advice:
Like, way low. Because it is that bad.
I'm not sorry.