Friday, March 14, 2014

"The Mirk and Midnight Hour"

For many years Jane Nickerson and her family lived in a big old house in Aberdeen, Mississippi, where she was also the children’s librarian. She has always loved the South, “the olden days,” gothic tales, houses, kids, writing, and interesting villains. After five great years living in Ontario, Canada, Nickerson and her husband have returned to Aberdeen where they live in a lovely little old house that is a television star.

Nickerson applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, The Mirk and Midnight Hour, and reported the following:
Ah, Page 69…
She groaned. “Surely you’ve noticed she’s never really with us. I’ve always felt a bit like an orphan.”

I tried to return to my book but ended up going over the same page three times without really seeing it. How often had I felt unnoticed around my invalid mother?
Here we find our heroine, Violet, gaining an insight on Sunny, her new stepsister, who Violet had always thought got everything she (or anyone else, for that matter) wanted. As Violet widens her tight circle to include newcomers, her character grows, but a reader seeing only this page would not know that this is a minor theme. Throughout the book, the domestic side of Violet’s life at her Mississippi farm is juxtaposed with the ethereal, eerie time she spends in the woods with a wounded Union soldier and with the mysterious VanZeldts and their ties to hoodoo. Violet’s situation in which she must deal with all these people—the newcomers on the farm, her best friend who she happens to “own”, the enemy soldier she falls in love with, and the VanZeldts—bring up questions of loyalty, human decency, and sacrifice.

None of this is even hinted at if you read only page 69.
Learn more about the book and author at Jane Nickerson's website.

--Marshal Zeringue