... a complex meditation on tragedy and tradition ... With deceptively simple prose, Rossner creates a lush, immersive world through which the sprawling plot meanders, punctuated by moments of intense grief. The result is as lovely as it is heartbreaking.
... a masterful tale blending Jewish mysticism, fairy tales, and history in this story about three girls who wield the sacred magic of King Solomon’s descendants ... This spectacular coming-of-age story shows the evolution that each of the sisters moves through to find their ending.
enough of the fantastical to satisfy the most ardent Grimm fan. But just because a story starts with Once-upon-a-time doesn’t mean that we are guaranteed a fairytale happily-ever-after ending. It is the sense of suspense — and the fragility of the world the book explores — that will keep readers’ imaginations churning ... Rossner skilfully weaves history into the fantastical here, and throughout the book ... Magical powers, religious freedom, a woman’s place in society, these are the novel’s concerns. Readers will feel a connection to the time and place, as it serves as a constant reminder of what we fight for daily—freedom to be ourselves and to choose our own destinies.
In spite of a promising premise and lucid prose style, The Light of the Midnight Stars never successfully comes together. The pacing is unsteady, dragging in some places and going too fast in others. The sisters' parents disappear strangely into the tale once the second half begins. I don't mean they're no longer present; although not written out of the story, suddenly they become props. Most of the focus is—rightfully—on the sisters, but it was still a jarring transformation following the close family dynamic presented in the first third of the novel. In fact, my principal critique...is the characters never quite become real. Sarah and Hannah are the most engaging, but their stories glance off one another, almost connecting, but then suddenly veering away in a way that makes me wonder why they're in the same book ... It's frustrating, because there is so much delicious meat on the bone. Once in a while, the reader can almost taste what the story promises—family, sisterhood, vibrancy, connection. But then the story skips onward, leaving one thinking, That's all?
... elements of this book don’t entirely click—despite a compelling group of characters, an abundance of historical detail, and a structural maneuver that pays off about halfway through the novel ... The history and folklore that Rossner invokes here is uniformly fascinating and compelling, but at times the sisters’ stories felt more disparate than parts of a unified whole. Further complicating things was the role of the Black Mist in the book. At times it felt like a foe to be vanquished, while at others it felt more like a harsh quality of the setting; something that can be eluded but will never fully abate. It’s hard to argue with Rossner’s ambition, nor with the risks she takes in the novel’s second half, which takes the storyline to some unexpected places literally and thematically. But the sheer amount of history and folklore in the mix here can be overwhelming sometimes.
Highly recommended for lovers of Naomi Novik's Spinning Silver and her 'Scholomance' series, as well as readers who enjoy their fantasy steeped in myths from infrequently represented people and places.