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You can almost hear the cicadas singing and feel the swamp sucking at the bottoms of your boots as you crack open this twisty, atmospheric mystery set in the fictional small town of Bottom Springs, LA. The realistic Southern setting that draws you in right from the start, a page-turning plot and characters that are as complex as a big old pot of gumbo are just a few of the things readers loved about our third GH+ Reads pick, Midnight Is the Darkest Hour, a new thriller from Ashley Winstead.
As part of our new GH+ Reads program, book-lovers who belong to Good Housekeeping's GH+ membership program were eligible to opt in and receive a free digital copy of Midnight Is the Darkest Hour. With that, they also received a brief survey to fill out with their feedback — and the chance to have their review posted on our website. Of those who responded, a whopping 94% finished this one, calling it, "well-written" and "easy to follow."
Want to join GH+ Reads? Join our membership program right now, then watch your inbox for our exclusive GH+ member newsletter. Four times a year, we'll announce a new book and the first 1,000 members to opt in will get a free digital copy to read before anyone else — and a chance to tell us what you think.
Growing up in Bottom Springs, LA, as the daughter of the town’s most favored preacher, Ruth Cornier knows the community’s desperation for answers better than most. She’s been an outcast as long as she can remember, her only friend the brooding Everett, who left town years ago only to return semiannually to crack open Ruth’s heart all over again. When a skull appears in the nearby swamp, surrounded by creepy symbols, the town fears it’s the work of the mythical Low Man, a vampire-like creature that, legend has it, haunts Bottom Springs.
But as Ruth and Everett start to uncover the truth of what happened, they realize the bigger danger aren't storybook creatures, but flesh and blood, some occupying the highest levels of their society—and all more dangerous than any bedtime story could dream of. This is a well-woven tale of love and lust, dark impulses and darker deeds. Read it with the lights on, unless you never want to sleep again.
GH+ Readers Weigh In
Overall, readers enjoyed the pacing and mystery in this novel, with many noting that they couldn't put it down. One reader pointed out that she liked the complexity of the characters and especially felt a kinship with Ruth and Everett's star-crossed relationship. Another noticed similarities to the hugely popular Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer, especially as the ending approached.
And about that ending! While a few readers expressed shock and outrage at the way the book resolved or didn't (no spoilers here) — and who doesn't love a good, controversial finish — a full 85% said they enjoyed it and another 82% would recommend the book to a friend. One reader issued one of the greatest compliments a book can receive, "I wonder if there will be a sequel?"
Here are more of our readers' thoughts on the book:
I liked how Everett was so vulnerable with Ruth and how he just wanted to protect her. — Jennifer Padilla
I enjoyed how it kept me wanting to read more and more. — Stephanie Vazquez
The nature descriptions and poetry references were lovely. I also really loved the quote, "I finally understand the greatest pain of all. It'd the moment you realize the family who raised you—the people who witnessed you in every moment of tender vulnerability growing up, who saw your small scraped knees, your spilled tears, your young eyes wide in wonder—don't love you back." Not everyone has a wonderful relationship with their parents; I found this totally relatable. — Sarah Lochner
Ruth has great depth as a character. She is flawed and she knows it, but she also has an incredible spirit of resilience. — Lois Fisch
The interplay of good vs. evil was evident throughout this novel. I enjoyed the evolution of Ruth. — Carole Fedro
I appreciated that the companionship of the town's pariah who was never given a chance and the town's moral leader's daughter was unlikely but also proved unbreakable. — Valerie Jacoby
I liked Ruth’s ability, in the end, to be confident enough to stand up to her father and community. She was torn between obedience and her heart. — Kimberly Colbert
It was kind of kooky and creepy. I did enjoy the descriptive images of the Louisiana area. I also liked the twisty plot. I was rooting for Ruth and Everett to be together-two misfits that found each other. — Jennie Maier
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