24 July 2013

Book Review: Midsummer Magic by Julia Williams

"Recently engaged Josie is visiting her parents in Cornwall with best friend Diane, fiancée Harry and his pal Ant. Josie can’t wait to start wedding planning, if only Harry was more interested, and Diane and Ant weren’t at war with each other.

As the four make amends over a drink in the local pub, they meet Freddie Puck, a well known TV hypnotist and find themselves agreeing to a dare – to stay out all night on the hills by the standing stones.

Local mythology says a young married couple will find true happiness if they can last a whole night there on Midsummer’s Eve. But as night time falls, not everyone seems to have remembered the boundaries of love…"

Rating: 2/5

You can buy Midsummer Magic as a paperback or an eBook now.

I really look forward to reading Julia Williams' books - her past few offerings have been seasonal treats, and I always enjoy her festive novels which are a real treat. Her latest book is certainly another seasonal favourite, entitled Midsummer Magic, and is somewhat based on the book by William Shakespeare, 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'. The cover is stunning, really beautiful and is a triumph by the publishers, and I was really excited to read it. I have to confess, though, that this was one summer read I really wasn't enamoured by and really struggled to get to the end of it which left me really disappointed!

Josie and Harry are engaged to be married, and are both thrilled with the prospect. They decide to take a trip to Josie's parents house to plan the wedding, mainly with Josie's mum, and decide to take along their respective best friends, Diana and Ant too. However, it's quickly obvious this isn't going to be a holiday from heaven. Harry doesn't seem interested in any wedding planning much to Josie's chagrin, and Ant and Diana seem to oddly be at loggerheads. One evening, at the local pub, they meet TV hypnotist Freddie Puck, and agree to a group dare. Will the group have the guts to follow through on their promise to Freddie, and will it help the course of true love to run more smoothly?

One of the things I really struggled with in the book was simply keeping up with the story. I didn't have a problem with the characters, and who was who, but it was just the other characters and the idea of the story which seemed to oddly confuse me. The first part of the book was fine, focussing mainly on Josie and Harry, and their upcoming wedding but then it just seemed to get too confusing for me. There was far too much going on, and I honestly could not remember what was happening. Who was meant to be asleep? Who was awake? Where had they gone? It was just too much, and I found myself virtually skim-reading some of it because for me it just didn't work and I was left baffled. Even re-reading some of it didn't help it make any more sense to me, and for me this is a fundamental flaw.

I enjoyed reading about the dislike between Ant and Diana, we aren't told for a long while what went on with these two but at times it was a little childish, and you couldn't help but feel like shouting 'grow up' at the pair of them. In fact, all the characters were slightly annoying throughout the book. Josie was a complete bridezilla who just had a streak about her I didn't like, Harry was a wimp who couldn't be a man about his feelings and admit how he felt, and Diana and Ant played childish mind games on each other. I found the way many of the characters had Shakespearean names was a tad annoying too simply because I felt I kept looking for them as I was reading, which again didn't help with my concentration on the story.

Julia Williams is usually such a fantastic author that I was really sad to not enjoy this one at all. With a confusing and somewhat repetitive plot line, and characters that I didn't really care all that much for, there wasn't a lot in this book to keep me reading, but I felt like I had to finish it in case something exciting happened that I wouldn't want to miss. Sadly, it didn't, and I ended the book still feeling confused (and if I'm honest, I still have no idea what really went on in the Midsummer's Eve bit, too much waking, sleeping, running away and silliness for my liking), and the hypnotism part of the plot just didn't work for me either. As I said, I really have loved Williams' previous books, so fingers crossed her next one will be one I can enjoy once more. I'm sorry to say I can't recommend this one unless you plan to be really confused for a few evenings.

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