Thanks to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Landmark for the digital ARC of Ashley Winstead's Midnight Is the Darkest Hour. The book will be published on October 3!
For years, since her friendship with Everett began, Ruth has waited for their sin to catch up with her. Drawn together by their crime, Ruth—confined by her father’s role as her small Louisiana town’s judge and confessor—and Everett—an outcast whose fate was cemented by his father’s evil—find refuge, affection, and understanding in each other, which brings them comfort as they ride out the end of their teenage years together.
And then a skull is found in the swamp. Suddenly, the peril of discovery that has been looming over her life arrives at her doorstep. Everett now only visits Bottom Springs in the summer, so Ruth has sought refuge and her parents’ approval by stepping tentatively into their vision for her: no college; marriage to a hometown boy; a family; and a fundamentalist Christian lifestyle. But when Everett returns, Ruth feels pulled again to a different way of living.
As the investigation speeds up, Winstead reveals the truths of Ruth’s past and present in alternating passages, revealing some secrets she’s kept and some that have been kept from her.
Midnight Is the Darkest Hour was my first book by Winstead, and wow, was it compelling. I didn’t want to stop reading! The non-chronological structure of the novel creates twists and turns, solving one mystery only to uncover another. The role of books and reading in Ruth and Everett’s characters, and in their relationship, made my heart happy. Most of all, I loved watching Ruth work through her vision of who she wanted to be in the face of her parents’—and the town’s—oppressive expectations. What a satisfying read!
I'm Jen Moyers, co-host of the Unabridged Podcast and an English teacher.