It’s a new year so time for me to share my favourite books of 2021 before I leap into reading this year’s offerings. 2021 galloped by and threw many obstacles my way, but it produced some amazing books though for me, the world of witches and magic have shone above the rest.
In no particular order here are my best books of 2021:
2022 looks like it will also be a wonderful year for magic and romance with the publication of the final instalment of the Practical Magic series, The Book of Magic by Alice Hoffman and the future publication of Miranda Dickinson’s The Start of Something.
What were your favourite reads in 2021 and what are you looking forward to this year? Let me know in the comments below.
A huge thank you to Rachel’s Random Resources, Random Things Tour, all the publishers who have supported my blog and allowed me early access to these wonderful books and of course, you my readers.
As we head towards Christmas and the traditional time of watching The Nutcracker at the theatre, now is the ideal time to review Midnight in Everwood by M.A Kuznair. Beneath this stunning book cover is a story loosely based on The Nutcracker, a ballet I discovered after reading this. Scroll down to see if the story lives up to the promise the delightful cover makes.
Title: Midnight in Everwood
Author: M.A Kuzniar
Release Date: 28th October 2021
In the darkness of night, magic awaits…
Marietta Stelle longs to be a ballerina but, as Christmas draws nearer, her dancing days are numbered – she must marry and take up her place in society in the New Year. But, when a mysterious toymaker, Dr Drosselmeier, purchases a neighbouring townhouse, it heralds the arrival of magic and wonder in Marietta’s life.
After Drosselmeier constructs an elaborate theatrical set for her final ballet performance on Christmas Eve, Marietta discovers it carries a magic all of its own – a magic darker than anyone could imagine. As the clock chimes midnight, Marietta finds herself transported from her family’s ballroom to a frozen sugar palace, silent with secrets, in a forest of snow-topped fir trees. She must find a way to return home before she’s trapped in Everwood’s enchanting grip forever.
In the darkness of night, magic awaits and you will never forget what you find here…
This book is everything I ever wished for and more. I love ballet, strong female characters and magic and this novel blends all of those elements perfectly. Highly visual, the scenes appear fully formed in the mind from the start with the introduction of strong willed and determined Marietta fighting against the social norms of the time to continue ballet lessons but they become technicolour when she arrives at Everwood. The words capture the musicality and gracefulness of the ballet, The Nutcracker, which is based but takes on a darker, haunting and thrilling form as secrets are revealed.
In reality, there is no way I can convey how much I love the wonder and world building in this book. It is one of those reads you wish you can wipe from your memory so you can have the childish delight of reading it fresh so you can discover it all over again. I first read a digital advanced copy but loved it so much I had to order a physical copy to own. And wow, what a treat the physical copies are with its distinctive illustrated dust jacket that hides the gorgeous blue cover embossed with a gold ballerina underneath. My only regret is I was too late to buy a Waterstone’s edition too with the added essay on The Nutcracker, but since my copy is personally signed, I can’t grumble at all.
Midnight in Everwood is an unforgettable story that deserves to be cherished.
Would I recommend?
Yes. Yes. Yes. Not only is Midnight in Everwood a fantastic read that will become a classic in the future, the cover adds to its elegance, making it an ideal gift for fantasy lovers or those who adore ballet and The Nutcracker. Full of strong characters, set in an extravagant and magical location, the danger and suspense underpinning the beauty makes you unable to put this book down until the end. The impact of the story and Marietta lingers long after the last page.
It is one for my foverever shelf and will be reread during the festive season but it is also sits proudly on the Enchanted Emporium bookshelf.
M.A. Kuzniar spent six years living in Spain, teaching English and travelling the world which inspired her children’s series The Ship of Shadows. Her adult debut novel Midnight in Everwood was inspired by her love of ballet and love of The Nutcracker. She lives in Nottingham with her husband, where she reads and writes as much as can and bookstagrams as @cosyreads.
I’m thrilled to have been asked to help celebrate this year’s #SFFRomFest and chat about my favourite fantasy and sci-fi romances. As many of you know I love books involving magic, witchcraft or the paranormal and a romantic thread always makes them extra special.
What has been your favourite SFF Romance from 2021 so far?
I hate questions like this because this year has produced some amazing and unique novels in the fantasy genre making it difficult to choose just one so I may have to cheat. Sorry!
A true fantasy romance that stands out is Caedis Knight’s Witches of Barcelona, the second novel in the Blood Web Chronicles. It follows Saskia, a low level witch on her investigations into the murky world of the paranormals. It’s hot and sizzles in all the right places with a varied cast of characters and thrilling plot. The world building is fully developed, imaginative and with many twists and turns it kept me on the toes. My review can be found here.
Another novel I adore and cannot get out of my mind is Midnight in Everwood by M.A Kuzniar. It’s not out until the end of this month and I feel privileged to have read an advanced copy – thank you so much, Harper Voyager. Based on The Nutcracker ballet, Marietta is a heroine to admire and again, the depth and layers of the world the author has created drew me in and I did not want to leave despite the dangers faced there. It’s a tale of obsession, desire for independence and self-discovery bundled up with magic and illusions. Everyone who loves ballet or fantasies such as Caraval are in for a treat. The physical copies are also stunning and I can’t wait to own one.
Which subgenre of SFF Romance do you tend to read most and what do you love about it?
I love magical realism and witchlit – stories that are based in reality but overlayed by magic and imagination such as portals to other worlds or characters with secret abilities. I find them more accessible than high fantasy, easy to visualise and I love the added excitement of knowing I could visit places mentioned if I wish. For example, I fell in love with Oxford through the Discovery of Witches and a tour is on my wishlist. I long to explore The British Library thanks to the wonderful worldbuilding in Threadneedle by Cari Thomas.
I also have a love of time slip novels such as those by Barbara Erskine, who is the queen of this genre. They tap into my love of history and the supernatural. I find I learn more about the obscure times and personalities this way rather than a textbook.
What was the first SFF Romance you can remember reading?
It has to be The Changeover by Margaret Mahy. Forget Twilight the chemistry between the two main characters, Laura and Sorenson Carlisle is perfect and the scene of her changing to be a witch is sensual and alludes to so much.
The first adult SFF romance I remember is TheLady of Hay by Barbara Erskine which I borrowed from my mum after she raved about it, but another memorable novel from my teenage years is Past Forgetting by Alexandra Thorne. It’s a time slip novel involving a dress I longed to own and the aurora borealis. Duncan Carlisle is a hero to swoon after.
What SFF Romance do you always recommend?
Currently, it is Midnight in Everwood but there is also Deborah Harkness’ All Souls Trilogy which blends my love of witchcraft, libraries and different species together. Caedis Knight’s Blood Web Chronicles are great for those who like romances that sizzle, and Kelley Armstrong is also one of my favourite authors to recommend. I’m not very good at choosing one thing, am I? There are just too many wonderful books and authors out there to love.
What SFF Romance is next on your TBR pile?
The next on my list is the last instalment of The Indigo Chronicles, Children of Shadows by N. Simmonds.
I’ll be joining in with the festival more on my Instagram account but if you want to discover more bloggers favourites or add to your TBR pile use the hashtag #SFFRomFest in your favourite social media outlet.
What are your favourite fantasy or sci-fi romance novels?