Book Review: Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale

Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Publication date: January 2012
Pages: 288
Source: e-book from NetGalley
For: Review
Series: Companion novel to Austenland

When Charlotte Kinder finds herself divorced and uncertain what do to next, she decides to take a vacation to Austenland - a place where she can become someone else and live in the world of Jane Austen. But when a mystery crops up during her time there, she is not sure all of it is pretend. Can she figure out the real from the fake before it is too late?

Things I Liked:
I am simply in love with Shannon Hale's writing.  She could make something beautiful or interesting or funny out of the most drab or boring topic (not that this book is drab or boring in plot).  I'd read a book on any topic written by her.  So, since I'm obviously a fan, I have to admit I truly enjoyed this book.  I loved the characters, particularly Charlotte as a woman trying to figure out her place in a world thrown upside down and backwards.  She was vulnerable, but strong and the parts where she starts to fight back were my favorites.  The mystery was fairly interesting and kept me wondering (though mystery fans probably had it figured out right away) and the whole Gothic feel and nod to Northanger Abbey made it so fun.  I laughed and shivered and then laughed again all the way through.  Delightful!

Things I Didn't Like:
I think it will be enjoyed more by people who may be experiencing some of the same issues that Charlotte and even Miss Charming did - a messy divorce or just feeling undesirable.  But it can be enjoyed by many other kinds of folks too, since I certainly did.  And the mystery wasn't exactly thrilling, but more just there to allow awesome character interactions.  Definitely not my favorite Shannon Hale book, but still pretty fun to read.

Can be enjoyed on its own, but don't skip the delight that is Austenland
I don't know, I don't read a lot of cozy mysteries or chick lit or even Austen-inspired stuff

s-factor: ! 
a few here and there

mrg-factor: X 
implied, not on page

v-factor: -> 
a little bit, nothing gory

Overall rating: ****

What's your favorite Shannon Hale? Or your go-to-for-the-writing author?

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