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Midsummer Night (Aetherial Tales) [Mass Market Paperback]

Freda Warrington
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; Reprint edition (26 Jun 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765358417
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765358417
  • Product Dimensions: 17 x 10.4 x 3.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 753,389 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Midsummer Night 4 Dec 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The title Midsummer night refers to a group of sculptures fashioned by the owner of an art centre. Gill, an Olympic class runner, devastated by an accident and the loss of her fiance, comes to rent a cottage on the estate. By accident, when out walking, she stumbles into another world. There she meets Rufus and his barman called Leith. A few nights later, Leith, in the middle of a storm, stumbles into Gill's cottage begging for shelter. He turns out to be the barman she met. Terrified of Rufus, he doesn't know who he is and seems to know nothing of his past. As the story unravels, it becomes gradually clear who he is and why he so afraid.

This story has many threads, but it is a another masterpiece from the pen of Ms. Warrington. I was initially disappointed not to find the Elfland characters in it. There is a mention of Albin and Laurence Wilder but nothing more than that. The ending is both startling and completely unexpected.

I hated to finish it and am now looking forward to the next one in the series.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as the first but still great 15 July 2013
By Miss_MP
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
this is second in the series of the elfland books. Although not as good as the first this still has Freda's great story writing and character building. What makes her books so great is that you feel you really know these characters, she builds them up slowly giving you time to get to know them. there are a few nods to the previous book but I wouldn't it follows directly on from the last book as all the characters are different. Still worth reading though.
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Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  15 reviews
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome Aetherial Tale and Top Ten 2010 Fantasy 25 Nov 2010
By Liviu C. Suciu - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
INTRODUCTION: I mentioned in my (FBC) review of Elfland that I opened that novel in a bookstore "just to do my duty in checking any new sff release I know nothing about" fully expecting to put it down after a page or two and forget about it. Instead I was hooked from the first page, so I bought the novel the same day and read it immediately. Given that, of course I wanted to read "Midsummer Night" asap and I asked for an arc though I was a little apprehensive if the same "magic" will happen again - the "curse" of high expectations versus no expectations that often determines how one feels about a book.

Here is the Publisher's Weekly blurb which is very incomplete and somewhat misleading, but considerably better than the "official blurb" you can find say on Goodreads which has some wrong information and it is even more misleading.

"In this moody and spine-shivering sequel to 2009's Elfland, Warrington takes readers deeper into the workings of the Aetherials, the magical beings who live in the Spiral, and the Vaethyr, who flit between the Spiral and Earth. World-famous sculptor Dame Juliana Flagg lives in Cairndonan, a dilapidated mansion in the highlands of northwest Scotland. Dame J can barely afford to care for herself, much less the mansion and grounds, but she can't tear herself away from the haunting, haunted place. Her uncle mysteriously disappeared from Cairndonan just after WWI, never to be seen again. Sometimes Dame J makes eerie sculptures that she can't bear to show or sell. Is the magic of Cairndonan connected to the malevolent, quasi-mythical Dunkelman? Warrington doesn't miss a beat with this sinister, ghostly tale of some of the darker aspects of the Aetherial world and its denizens' dealings with humanity."

FORMAT/CLASSIFICATION: "Midsummer Night" stands at about 415 pages divided into 23 named chapters with an epilogue and a prologue. While a standalone with a definite storyline and ending, "Midsummer Night" is loosely connected with Elfland with some minor characters from there becoming more important ones here, while the action takes place about 16 years later.

The story lines in Elfland and Midsummer Night are also quite different and while in this novel some events from Elfland are alluded to, they are neither crucial nor really spoil that one, though familiarity with the Elfland world building adds depth to Midsummer Night.

"Midsummer Night" is contemporary fantasy at its best and I sure want more Aetherials' tales.

OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS: For the reasons given at the end of the Introduction, I will start with a short overview and then discuss why "Midsummer Night" is the best contemporary fantasy I have read in a while and a top ten fantasy of mine in 2010.

There is indeed the remote estate, the famous sculptor Dame Juliana Flagg who is one of the main two POV's and characters of the novel and her entourage - the red-haired assistant director of her summer class Peta, Colin her young disciple who is infatuated with Dame J., the seemingly sinister Ned, her decades long groundskeeper and his wife Flora who serves as Dame J.'s secretary and housekeeper.

But the main POV of the novel at least for the most part and the person whose eyes we see the action through is a young woman, Gill Sharma, seemingly unconnected to both Dame J. and the art world. As the novel starts, Gill has just arrived from London on a retreat to the estate, to nurse her recent bad accident injuries in solitude and peace - to pay the bills, Dame J. takes lodgers over the summer and teaches art courses also.

Of course Gill is dismayed to find out about the summer camp that Dame J. is conducting and for reasons that are slowly revealed she is quite scared of strangers, especially men, but soon Gill makes friends with the exuberant and irrepressible Peta and together they start exploring the grounds despite Ned's muttered warnings. And so it starts...

Though it should be obvious, I would add that nothing is as it seems, everyone has secrets and ulterior motives for their actions and that is a huge part of the novel's enjoyment. And not to speak of the Aetherials, their appearance and involvement with the estate inhabitants which ultimately power the novel's main thread.

Now let's see why I found "Midsummer Night" so impressive. On opening the novel, the superb writing style of the author just hooked me and the book was one of those "read me now" ones that you cannot leave until you finish. You may have to put the book down to do other stuff, but you are not going to want to read any other novel until you are done here, maybe reread it at least once to get all its nuances that may escape on a first reading, or to just simply enjoy the tale at leisure once you know where it all goes.

The plotting of the novel is superb with all the aforementioned secrets slowly revealed and putting a different complexion on many things, while the main story progresses unabated too. This seamless integration of "character back story" and forward action is another major strength and "Midsummer Night" just flows with no narrative walls, while looking back one is astounded by how much happens, how many things from the recent or distant past are revealed, all integrated in a tapestry.

The world building - both the Scottish remote estate atmosphere with the strange sculptures Dame J. would not part even as she teeters close to bankruptcy and the Aetherial world where a lot of the "physical" action happens - is excellent too and some of the things that somewhat baffled me in Elfland regarding the latter make more sense here.

Despite being the main POV for most of the novel and for good reasons as we find out, Gill soon is shadowed by the larger than life Dame J. around whom everything revolves. From the Aetherial world, the handsome but - as we pretty much guess on the spot - sinister Rufus is the only one that matches Dame J. in presence and all his apparitions are highlights of the novel.

The memory-less stranger mentioned in the official blurb is indeed one of the motivators of the main thread, but he is more an "object" than a person, more a something than a someone quite a few people want for their own reasons. Add to this the superb cast of secondary characters, Colin, Peta, Ned, Flora and some Aetherials all with their own agenda and secrets and you see why Midsummer Night shines here too.

There is a lot of action too including a dramatic rescue on the slopes of a sort-of volcano (evidently not in Scotland), fights with and without "magic" and more. As contemporary fantasy set at the intersection of our world and the weird Aetherial one, Midsummer Night (A++) is the complete package and as good as such gets.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyed Elfland More 12 Jan 2011
By N. Finney - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
In general, I am extremely leery of fiction involving 'the fair folk' in any shape way or form. As well, I dislike urban fantasy, which generally involves modern day people (usually feisty females) in the modern world dealing with the supernatural, or the realm of Faerie or some such.

In Elfland, Freda Warrington showed me how this type of content can be incredibly engaging, with vivid characters, excellent world building, etc.

But I had a really hard time getting into Midsummer Night, the sequel, although towards the second half of the book (it often does pay to keep going), the tension and mystery picked up, and the shivery portrayal of the Aetherials and their world was very well done. And of course, Ms Warrington has an elegant, flowing prose that is generally a pleasure to read.

I think my problem was that I didn't really care about any of the characters in this book, the way I had about those in Elfland. The musings on the nature of art and artists - via Juliana - was interesting, but not engaging. The main POV - Gill- a young woman who'd been training as an Olympic runner, but who was recuperating from an almost crippling accident at Juliana's estate in Scotland - is not, for me, a compelling character. It is true that in the course of the novel, her character evolves - but I would have cared more if I cared about her.

(I'm realizing now that when I do comment on books here on Amazon, and if I have negative comments to make, it is almost always about the characters in a book. For a novel to work, the reader must be able to CARE about at least one character. This doesn't even mean the character has to be good, but that one must care.)
3.0 out of 5 stars It fell flat 6 Mar 2014
By Jordin Barber - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
I’m not going to lie, when I first started reading this book I couldn’t really get into it. It was probably due to a bit of anger that I wouldn’t learn any more about Rosie and Sam and the fact that I didn’t find the main character, Gil, to be very interesting.

Summary:

After tragic car accident, Gillian (or Gil), a former track star and Olympic hopeful, has fled to Scotland to mope and start the healing process. In an attempt to seek solitude, Gil is thwarted by a 6-week long art workshop by the famous Dame Julianna Flagg. When Gil wanders off in the forest, she discovers a place called Foundry. But when Gil mentions Foundry to others, it seems as though the place couldn’t possibly exist. With old tales of children going missing, being taken away by fairies, and coming back mad, Gil isn’t quite sure what she’s discovered especially when a young man from Foundry comes looking for her.

My Thoughts:

I definitely had to warm up to this book. It’s a rather creepy book where the characters are forced to deal with dark familial mysteries of the past. I just couldn’t like Gil as a main character. I didn’t find her story interesting, a famous athlete can no longer run and hides from her problems.. bleh. It seemed as though her character was just used to uncover all the mystery behind Dame J. However, as I read the book, I found it more and more intriguing. Rufus Hart made an excellent villain who can seduce and give extraordinary happiness and then rip it away. When Leith, the young man from Foundry, shows up in Cairndonan things start to get very interesting as Gil and Peta search to discover which of the long-lost children he could be. The mystery behind his appearance starts to drive the plot forward, but even that struggles to gain momentum when Dame J delays Gil and Peta from questioning him further.

The redeeming qualities of this book had to be the way the Otherworld was developed, seeing the politics that exist there, how the Otherworld is shaped, and the intriguing notion of a human who can access this fairy realm with ease. This exploration of the blurring between the human world and the Aetherial world was very interesting.

But I felt that the plot was dragged out and only a few characters made the book worthwhile (Peta, Rufus, Leith).

Bottom Line: Maybe read this one before Elfland because it will spark your interest and you won’t be as let down as I was. However, I did enjoy the book overall. It just took awhile to get into it, and it wasn’t as character driven as Elfland.
5.0 out of 5 stars Freda Warrington, Welcome to the US! 3 Oct 2013
By Angel Singer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
While I was reading this book, my boyfriend remarked that he often saw me look up and stare into space with a faraway look in my eye. "Where are you?" he asked.

I was standing on a cliff in Scotland, overlooking the sea, surrounded by a magnificent sculpture forest of Aetherial beings, and bathed in artistry and magic. I could feel the spray of water of my face as I watched the play of light on the water.

I was transported, often, by this story.

It was one of those stories where I was torn; wanting to stay up all night and read it through to the end, and also wanting to read only a few chapters at a time. Then I'd make myself put down the book and would often go to bed, dreaming about that Aetherial world and the lovely, magic, troubled, flawed, passionate, loving, treacherous and mysterious "people" who inhabited it.
4.0 out of 5 stars 3.5 stars 2 Mar 2013
By E. Smiley - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I had a great time with Elfland, and while I didn't enjoy this one quite as much, it's still a pleasant, engaging and mostly well-written novel.

Midsummer Night is a standalone fantasy loosely related to Elfland, but you could easily read this one first. It is set on an old estate along the modern-day Scottish coast, which has been troubled by meddlesome faerie folk. The story centers on three women: Gill Sharma, who comes to the estate to recover after an accident puts an end to her athletic career; Peta Lyon, an art teacher; and Dame Juliana Flagg, an enigmatic 60-something sculptor and owner of the estate.

I was surprised to find how different this book is from Elfland, although both have engaging plots and characters, similar pacing and lovely imagery. While Elfland is a family drama-cum-romance starring the faerie folk, Midsummer Night is the almost creepy story of its primarily human protagonists' encounters with the faerie world, containing fewer family bonds and no star-crossed lovers. (While I loved the romance in Elfland, this book didn't need one, and I admire Warrington for not shoehorning one in anyway.) There are also fewer melodramatic elements, although there are some hidden affairs and mysterious parentages in the story's past.

Like Elfland, this one is a bit of a slow starter, and it wasn't until Chapter 3 that I was convinced I'd like the book. But the plot soon becomes exciting and immersive, the writing and dialogue are good, and the imagery and atmosphere excellent. The characters are interesting and I mostly liked them, but wasn't quite as convinced as I was in Elfland. There, I was impressed by Warrington's ability to create in Rosie a character who's warm, sensitive and communicative, and yet feels real and unidealized. Here, I got the impression that Rosie is the type of protagonist that comes most naturally to the author, and was less than completely convinced by the brusque and reserved Dame J. Along the same line, there are moments when the villains are much more transparent than I was willing to credit.

Overall, though, this is an enjoyable and satisfying book, and if you like fairy tales grounded in the modern world, you will probably like Midsummer Night. I certainly plan to read the third book in this trilogy once it is released.
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