I meant to do that . . . .?
It may look like I’ve been cherry-picking reviews that speak positively of Midnight Never Come, but the truth is I post everything that makes a substantive comment on the book. (I don’t figure you all want to see every post that mentions it in passing; possibly you don’t even want to see what I do post.) Anyway, as if to prove that, this roundup is a mixed-to-negative bag — for some reason I hit a run of less enthusiastic reviews lately.
occultatio read it right after finishing Dorothy Dunnett’s Lymond Chronicles, which is the fastest way I can think of to make my book suck. I will be the first in line to admit that, by comparison with her, my writing is lightweight. But if I work very hard and eat my vegetables, one day I may grow mighty enough to equal her first novel. (Pardon me while I go cry again over the fact that she was that damn good right out of the gate.)
meganbmoore liked it in the end, but found the opening overly political and slow-going.
Trinuviel at FantasyBookSpot loved the premise and structure, but the execution just did not come through for her. Despite that, I recommend you go read her review if you like digging past the surface; she clearly knows her way around the Tudor period, and says many intelligent things about my structural choices.
And then a glowing review, to wrap this set up: Lory Hess at the Green Man Review stayed up way past midnight reading it. (And made my day by being the only person so far to make mention of the alchemical allusion at the beginning of Act I. That was a shout-out to my Memento peeps.)
Here’s the funny thing about Trinuviel’s review, which I’d like to discuss more. As I said, she knows her history, and brings up the motif of doubling in Elizabethan thought, connecting that with my mirroring of Elizabeth and Invidiana.
If I were smart, I’d let you believe I planned that all along. Truth is? I didn’t. At the time that I thought up Invidiana, I had no idea that doubling was a thing back then, and I’d never heard of the king’s two bodies. I came across it later, certainly — I don’t think I could have done that much research and missed it — but even then, it never occurred to me to turn around and connect that to the idea already in place.
All the things she says about the way the doubling plays out were most definitely deliberate, but the idea itself was a felicitous accident. Which is something I’ve wondered about ever since I started writing seriously enough to think about the kinds of things we tend to say in English classes and research papers: how much of what we see in a story is deliberate? This gets into the whole “the author is dead” notion in literary criticism, and I’m on the fence about that. On the one hand, being an anthropologist and a writer myself, I always want to know about the person behind the words, the ways in which the author and the context of creation can shed new light on the story you read. On the other hand, sometimes you can find perfectly legitimate meanings in a text that were created completely by accident. It’s why I’m always careful to phrase things as “you can read this out of it” unless I know for a fact that the author put it in there on purpose.
At any rate, her comments are food for thought — especially since I’m currently trying to decide how seventeenth-century fae, influenced by contemporary mortal ideas, might handle the issue of legal justice. I think we have a tendency to cut our fantasy creations slack, to behave as if absolutism and arbitrary sentencing are somehow more attractive when they’re done by a faerie, but this strikes me as a fine time to poke holes in that idea. (Now I just need to figure out how to follow a different model without making it mundane and boring.)