Biblioshelf Musings – Midnight in Everwood by M.A. Kuzniar

Hey Bibliofriends!

This week’s Biblioshelf Musings are about Midnight in Everwood by M.A. Kuzniar. There’s always something about The Nutcracker that signals Christmas is just around the corner so as soon as I read the blurb for the Nutcracker-esque retelling Midnight in Everwood, I immediately added it to my TBR pile! And boy, it did not disappoint! This is one of my all-time favourite reads this year. I had to give it 5/5 stars, it’s pure, delectable perfection from start to finish.

Huge thanks to NetGalley, M.A. Kuzniar and the publishers HQ for providing me with a complimentary e-ARC in exchange for this honest review.


Book: Midnight in Everwood by M.A. Kuzniar
Genre: Sci-Fi and Fantasy, Literary Fiction
Publication Date: October 28th 2021
Publisher: HQ
Pages: 384
Rating: 📚📚📚📚📚

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

A spell-binding retelling of The Nutcracker, filled with enchanted toys, decadent balls, fierce feminine friendships and a forbidden romance. For fans of The ToymakersCaraval and The Bear and the Nightingale.

There’s nothing Marietta Stelle loves more than ballet, but after Christmas, her dreams will be over as she is obligated to take her place in Edwardian society. While she is chafing against such suffocating traditions, a mysterious man purchases the neighbouring townhouse. Dr Drosselmeier is a charming but calculating figure who wins over the rest of the Stelle family with his enchanting toys and wondrous mechanisms.

When Drosselmeier constructs an elaborate set for Marietta’s final ballet performance, she discovers it carries a magic all of its own. On the stroke of midnight on Christmas Eve, she is transported to a snowy forest, where she encounters danger at every turn: ice giants, shadow goblins and the shrieking mist all lurk amidst the firs and frozen waterfalls and ice cliffs. After being rescued by the butterscotch-eyed captain of the king’s guard, she is escorted to the frozen sugar palace. At once, Marietta is enchanted by this glittering world of glamorous gowns, gingerbread houses, miniature reindeer and the most delicious confectionary.

But all is not as it seems and Marietta is soon trapped in the sumptuous palace by the sadistic King Gelum, who claims her as his own. She is confined to a gilded prison with his other pets; Dellara, whose words are as sharp as her teeth, and Pirlipata, a princess from another land. Marietta must forge an alliance with the two women to carve a way free from this sugar-coated but treacherous world and back home to follow her dreams. Yet in a hedonistic world brimming with rebellion and a forbidden romance that risks everything, such a path will never be easy.

My Musings

The Nutcracker meets Alice in Wonderland and The Chronicles of Narnia is this beguiling wintry fairytale from M.A. Kuzniar. Whether it’s the twinkling Tchaikovsky soundtrack, the magical nostalgia of seeing Christmas through a child’s eyes or the curiously enchanted sugar plum fairies and Mouse Kings, there is just something ensorcelling about the tale of the Nutcracker in all of its numerous variations.

Whilst I’ve seen the Nutcracker ballet several times, I haven’t read the original tale of The Nutcracker and The Mouse King by E.T.A. Hoffman so cannot offer comparisons of Midnight in Everwood to the original telling of the tale. In spite of this, I was still equally blown away as to how Kuzniar has taken the most magical elements of this charming story and breathed fresh life and purpose into her reimagining.

I’m a huge fan of novels which craft a world I can imagine leaping into with my ‘literary worlds passport’ and the world-building in this novel is so on point, it’s exquisite! From frozen sugar castles, moose pulled sleighs, miniature reindeers, marzipan alleyways and ballet stage sets with mechanical moving mice, the whole creation of Everwood appealed to every single sense in my body. There was so much attention to detail in everything from what the characters ate to the elaborate costumes they wore to balls. Kuzniar’s language and descriptions were an absolute confectionary delight of storytelling which is one of the main reasons I had to give this book 5/5 stars.

The characters are truly endearing. Mariette starts off as a determined yet naive society girl who just wants to dance rather than settle down into an arranged marriage. Upon her arrival in Everwood, she gets beguiled by all of the enchantments and possibilities of that new world. When the rose-tinted glow of that kingdom finally wears off and she develops strong friendships with Dellara and Pirlipata, Mariette emerges as a fierce, confident woman who has the courage to stand up for what she believes in and follow her dreams.

Dr. Drosselmeier appears as the perfect sinister, morally grey villain. He tries so hard to ensnare her into his magical world, yet ends up providing her with the exact tools and experiences she needs to overcome him. His parody within the world of Everwood keeps you guessing as to whether his character resides within that magical world or if he is just the great orchestrator from the outside.

Captain Legat offers up the forbidden romance element of the novel and I was totally there for it! I loved all of his and Mariette’s interactions. I also liked the way he was able to stand up and be recognised as his own character within the story and even though it fell slightly into the ‘trope/predictable’ element of fantasy romances, there was certainly nothing wrong with a little indulgence.

Mariette’s friendships with Dellara and Pirlipata showcased strong females and added to the vibes of women overcoming the dominance of patriarchal suppression. This was a classic case of women uplifting other women and I really like how Kuzniar has paved the way for these characters to take up stories of their own in possible companion novels.

With background references to the suffragette movement and forbidden homosexuality in Edwardian England, Kuzniar does well to address these issues whilst keeping the narratives of the main characters as the focus in the plot.

Every little thing in this novel points to the small yet highly significant details. The deeper I look within this story and the more I research around the original tale and its ballet heritage, the more symbols, foreshadowings and allusions I pick up about how much work has gone into this masterful creation and reader, I wholly appreciate it!

Even the naming of these characters was special with Mariette linking back to the original character of Marie, whilst also sounding like a marionette. As Mariette is forced to dance for the evil King Gelum, I couldn’t help but think of her as a puppet or as the girl from the Anderson fairytale The Red Shoes. Dellara’s fairylike symbolism can be seen to take it’s influences from Antonietta Dell’Era, the original Sugar Plum Fairy. Even Captain Legat could be a reference to the Russian principal dancer Nikolai Gustavovich Legat. These are the kind of references that I absolutely live for in fiction and Kuzniar has done such a stellar job at weaving all of these references into her ode to the world of The Nutcracker.

I could probably wax lyrical about this book for ages and I’m sure there are a multitude of little pop culture / ballet references which I am yet to discover. Either way, this is truly a spectacular work of fiction. Kuzniar has taken the basis of a much loved winter fairytale and turned it into her own magical world brimming full of stories and adventure. Needless to say, if you’re a fan of the Nutcracker then you’ll probably adore this book just as much as me. However, if you’re also a fan of the types of adventures where characters visit strange, new worlds, such as Alice in Wonderland and The Chronicles of Narnia then add this extraordinary, enchanting novel to your list – it may well become a new favourite!

Why Should I Read This?

For the incredible attention to detail in each and every page. This is a purposefully thought-through tale which shows how much of a beloved story and world this is to the author.
For the amazing world-building which I could have literally eaten off the page; this really deserves to be one of those scratch-and-sniff books!
For the perfect wintry fairytale to set you up for the forthcoming festive season.

Find out more about this book here:

Amazon | Waterstones | Goodreads | Author’s Instagram | Author’s Website

Connect with me here:

Twitter | Goodreads | Book Sloth: @thebiblioshelf |Email: thebiblioshelf@gmail.com

#SixforSunday – Characters I Want To Spend New Years With

Happy Sunday Bibliofriends,

How was everyone’s Christmas? I hope you all got to spend it in the nicest way possible given all of the Covid “restrictions” etc…

This week’s Six For Sunday is gearing up for one of the biggest party times of the Year with Characters We’d Want To Spend New Years With! Now, as we are still under pandemic times, I’m forgoing the rule of six and turning it into a rule of seven as I would love to go to a massive-non-socially-distanced-rave-style-mosh-pit-party with these guys! 😆

For those who don’t already know, Six for Sunday is weekly meme hosted by Steph over at A Little But A Lot.


Characters I Want To Spend New Years With

Addie LaRue

Jesper (Six of Crows)

Gandalf – with Fireworks! (Lord of the Rings)

Peik Lin (Crazy Rich Asians)

Tyrone Lannister (Game of Thrones)

Cassian (ACOTAR)

If only fictional worlds were one big reality where I could actually play that party out in real life!!! #eclecticbunch!


Which characters would be on your invite list for a New Years Party? How do you think you’ll be spending NYE this year? Are you looking forward to finally seeing the back of 2020?!
As always, leave your links below or drop me a comment to chat!

T xx

#SixforSunday – Books I Want To Buy As Presents

Happy Sunday Bibliofriends,

Our Six For Sunday theme of Festive Goodness takes on the dreaded Christmas Shopping element this week! I wish more of my friends love books as much as I do as it would make things so much easier! Nevertheless, here’s the books I be buying as presents – let’s hope Secret Santas aren’t reading this! 😂

For those who don’t already know, Six for Sunday is weekly meme hosted by Steph over at A Little But A Lot.


Books I Want To Buy As Presents

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab

I would buy everyone this book! I know it probably wouldn’t be to everyone’s taste but I love it so much; it’s my favourite read of the entire year and one of my favourites of all time.

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue
Songteller: My Life in Lyrics by Dolly Parton

I’d have to buy two copies though… one for my Dolly-loving friend – and one for me! 😂

Dolly Parton, Songteller: My Life in Lyrics
The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson

I have a friend who I think would really appreciate the world building the plot concept in this book. It was a really good read and I can see them liking it!

The Space Between Worlds
Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline

Again, I would have to buy two copies of this and give one to a friend so I had someone to chat about it with! I have to admit, I’m so nervous about finally being able to read the sequel. The first book is one of my all-time favourites so the sequel will have a lot to live up to!

Ready Player Two (Ready Player One, #2)
Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

We can list books we’d want to buy as presents for ourselves can’t we?! 🙈

Mexican Gothic
Black Flamingo by Dean Atta

The above comment works for this one too! I actually do have a friend who I would buy this for. She loves YA and I know she hasn’t got around to purchasing this one for herself yet.

The Black Flamingo

Which books would be on your own Christmas list or which books are you buying for other people this holiday season?
As always, leave your links below or drop me a comment to chat!

T xx

#SixforSunday – Books I’d Like To Spend The Holidays In

Happy Sunday Bibliofriends,

Our Six For Sunday theme of Festive Goodness is really getting me hyped up and excited for Christmas and New Year. What better way to start thinking about which books I’d want to be spending the holidays in than with this week’s S4S prompt?!

For those who don’t already know, Six for Sunday is weekly meme hosted by Steph over at A Little But A Lot.


Books I’d Like To Spend The Holidays In

The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

There’s just something about the world of Narnia which screams Christmas to me! Perhaps it’s the wintry landscape but I could definitely imagine this being a really cosy and twinkly place to spend a white christmas.

Christmas at Hogwarts

Nothing says Christmas Banquet like a Hogwarts Christmas Feast. I would love to go to Warner Bros. Studios to see the big Christmas tree in the Great Hall and sip on some butter beer whilst listening to Flitwick and his random toad choir!

The OASIS from Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

If you don’t know already, this is one of my all time favourite books in the whole universe so it’s no surprise that I’d take any opportunity I could get to go exploring all of the different sectors and worlds within the OASIS. I bet there’s even a planet where it is actually Christmas everyday just so you could sing the Wizzard song and it would actually come true for a change!

Carcassonne (Labyrinth) from The Languedoc trilogy by Kate Mosse

I really love the world building in this series. Kate’s description of the medieval towns really wants to make me visit this beautiful region of France.

Illuminae by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman

Party on the Heimdall anyone?? Pre BeiTech involvement obviously…!

The Shire (The Hobbit) by J.R.R. Tolkien

I can just imagine Christmas in the Shire being such a great time where everyone comes together to have a big festive gathering at the Green Dragon or the Prancing Pony! I’d definitely by up for a Christmas party there, especially if Gandalf brings his fireworks!


Where would you want to spend the holiday season?
As always, leave your links below or drop me a comment to chat!

T xx

#SixforSunday – Red and White Books

Happy Sunday Bibliofriends,

It’s finally December!! For the past few years, I seemed to have lost my Christmas mojo and it just became another time of year with an excuse to eat and drink far too much – but this year I am getting super excited for Christmas! Maybe all of the crazy lockdown life has made me grateful for a time to celebrate with family, even if it is “restricted” more this year!

Anyway, before we actually get to Christmas we have a brand new Six For Sunday theme and this month it’s all about Festive Goodness! For those who don’t already know, Six for Sunday is weekly meme hosted by Steph over at A Little But A Lot. This month is all about the red and white coloured books – nothing says Christmas than a little red and white striped candy came right?!


Red and White Books

The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

I binge read this book in less than 24 hours. Mysterious clue-solving treasure hunt for a massive inheritance around a big grand mansion… I sure did love it! If you enjoyed the film Knives Out then you’d probably enjoy this read! You can read my review here.

The Inheritance Games
Wolf Hall – Hilary Mantel

I took the opportunity during the first lockdown to actually pick this mammoth brick up and read it. After I got over the narration style it was actually thoroughly enjoyable and incredibly well-written. I’m not sure how long it’ll take me to get around to reading the next two instalments though! 😂

Wolf Hall (Thomas Cromwell, #1)
The Truth About Ruby Valentine by Alison Bond

This was one of those books where I read the review in a Sunday magazine and just had to have it. I would trawl the second hand bookshops just looking for a copy until I finally got one!

The Truth About Ruby Valentine
Everless by Sara Holland

I loved the concept of blood and time being currency in this book as well as the folklore surrounding the Sorcerer and the Alchemist. It seemed so unique and originally described. A five-star read from me but sadly I didn’t feel the sequel lived up to it as much.

Everless (Everless, #1)
Crown of Midnight by Sarah J Maas

It wouldn’t be a Biblioshelf post without a something from Throne of Glass right?! 🙄

Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass, #2)
Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy by Helen Fielding

What a furore this caused when it came out!! I won’t spoil it for anyone wanting to read it but I am glad that they didn’t use this book as the screenplay for the third film – this is one of those instances where I’m afraid I love the movies more than the books!

Mad About the Boy (Bridget Jones, #3)

What are your favourite red and white books covers? What kind of colours make you think of Christmas? Are you looking forward to the Festive Season?
As always, leave your links below or drop me a comment to chat!

T xx