I had a great time with [b:Elfland|6276214|Elfland (Aetherial Tales, #1)|Freda Warrington|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1312032095s/6276214.jpg|6459697], and while I didn’t enjoy this one quite as much, it’s still a pleasant, engaging and mostly well-written novel.
Midsummer Night is a standalone fantasy loosely related to Elfland, but you could easily read this one first. It is set on an old estate along the modern-day Scottish coast, which has been troubled by meddlesome faerie folk. The story centers on three women: Gill Sharma, who comes to the estate to recover after an accident puts an end to her athletic career; Peta Lyon, an art teacher; and Dame Juliana Flagg, an enigmatic 60-something sculptor and owner of the estate.
I was surprised to find how different this book is from Elfland, although both have engaging plots and characters, similar pacing and lovely imagery. While Elfland is a family drama-cum-romance starring the faerie folk, Midsummer Night is the almost creepy story of its primarily human protagonists’ encounters with the faerie world, containing fewer family bonds and no star-crossed lovers. (While I loved the romance in Elfland, this book didn’t need one, and I admire Warrington for not shoehorning one in anyway.) There are also fewer melodramatic elements, although there are some hidden affairs and mysterious parentages in the story's past.
Like Elfland, this one is a bit of a slow starter, and it wasn’t until Chapter 3 that I was convinced I’d like the book. But the plot soon becomes exciting and immersive, the writing and dialogue are good, and the imagery and atmosphere excellent. The characters are interesting and I mostly liked them, but wasn’t quite as convinced as I was in Elfland. There, I was impressed by Warrington’s ability to create in Rosie a character who’s warm, sensitive and communicative, and yet feels real and unidealized. Here, I got the impression that Rosie is the type of protagonist that comes most naturally to the author, and was less than completely convinced by the brusque and reserved Dame J. Along the same line, there are moments when the villains are much more transparent than I was willing to credit.
Overall, though, this is an enjoyable and satisfying book, and if you like fairy tales grounded in the modern world, you will probably like Midsummer Night. I certainly plan to read the third book in this trilogy once it is released.