Thursday, March 24, 2016

Magical Storytelling Pick: Wink Poppy Midnight

Wink Poppy Midnight
by April Genevieve Tucholke
Dial Books
247 pages
ISBN: 9780803740488
"Tucholke walks a fine, spine-chilling line. . .  An eerie, tangled story with plenty of questions: Who can be trusted? Who—or what—pulls the strings? . . . The book keeps readers wondering. Nicely constructed and planned, with unexpected twists to intrigue and entertain.”  

—Kirkus starred review
“A dark, unpredictable mystery that . . . shimmer[s] with sumptuous descriptions and complicated psychologies. . . . Occult accoutrements, descriptions of the wild landscape, and a twisting-turning plot create an uncertain atmosphere that constantly shift readers’ perceptions of who is trustworthy.”
 —Publishers Weekly
From the author's website:


Spring 2016 Kids’ Indie Next List


Amazon Editors' Best Books of the month, March 2016
A Junior Library Guild Selection
Teen Vogue’s Best New YA Books of 2016
PureWow's Best of Spring
Wink Poppy Midnight is that rare book: equal parts magic, mystery, romance and intrigue. Textured and rich, the prose sings off the pages. Tucholke is one fine storyteller; she pulls you in, makes you believe in magic, throws crazy plot twists at you, adds a few red herrings for spice, plays you like a fiddle and then leaves you breathless, confused and delighted. "Every story needs a hero. Every story needs a villain. Every story needs a secret." (from the inside cover). Readers will not see this story's ending coming, and believe me, there's no way to prepare for it--any of it.
Wink is a masterful storyteller who believes, truly believes--to the depths of her being--in fairy tales. Poppy is a mean girl; the girl who seemingly has no heart. She cares nothing for any one and she only acts in her own self-interest. She's a true sociopath. She plays with both Midnight and Wink, toying with their hearts and heads until Wink can bear it no more. Wink convinces Midnight of a plan to bring Poppy down a notch or two.

When their plan goes off the rails, Poppy disappears. Both Wink and Midnight feel guilt, but Wink knows Poppy is still playing a game with them. Wink knows Poppy like she knows herself. Midnight once loved Poppy, and he still smells her perfume in his room. Is she a ghost? Is he seeing things? If she's alive, why won't she come back?

Someone is pulling the strings and someone is lying, but whom? Is it Poppy manipulating others into thinking she is dead? Or is it Wink, the pixie storyteller? Everyone loves Wink, but with her intelligence and creative, whimsical mind, could she be the mastermind for murder? Or is it someone else behind the scenes? Someone Poppy used to love?

Minor characters are drawn into the mystery and add to the suspense. Wink's younger siblings think Poppy has drowned, and Wink might even believe it.

After a chilling séance, an accidental fire burns down the spooky Roman Luck House and the kids escape, everyone except Midnight. Wink fears Midnight is dead, but (spoiler alert) someone or something pulled him from the house. Only Midnight knows what really happened but he's not talking--he has too much to lose.

Heroes and villains are never truly heroic nor truly evil. Sometimes it's hard to tell the good from the bad--unlike most fairy tales where ugly ogres and cackling witches are bad and beautiful princesses and handsome heroes are always good. Wink needs her fairy tales to make sense of her life and she is such a lyrical storyteller, she has all the other kids  believing in fairy magic and heroic quests. When they listen to Wink, they believe in princesses and witches.

Wink Poppy Midnight will haunt you long after you have finished reading. The only thing missing for me was a more gothic setting. This book could have gone southern gothic or gothic romance, but it didn't. Perhaps that is the way the author intended.

Cover art captures magic elements of Wink's stories: a snake, a full moon, a spider's web, an owl, an apple, flowers, a butterfly.
Highly, highly recommended for mature readers. Mature situations. Poppy is quite a seductress.
FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.


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