From the publisher:
Every story needs a hero.
Every story needs a villain.
Every story needs a secret.
Wink is the odd, mysterious neighbor girl, wild red hair and freckles. Poppy is the blond bully and the beautiful, manipulative high school queen bee. Midnight is the sweet, uncertain boy caught between them. Wink. Poppy. Midnight. Two girls. One boy. Three voices that burst onto the page in short, sharp, bewitching chapters, and spiral swiftly and inexorably toward something terrible or tricky or tremendous.
What really happened?
Someone is lying.
This is a story of knights in dull armour and sweet, vindictive maidens. A story of wolves in sheepskin; dragons with cherubic smiles, honeyed ringlets, wild eyes. A story of Orphans and Unforgivables and tiny saccharine strawberries devoured on the summer grass. Most of all, this is a story of pretty white lies and cracking white smiles, written as a gentle reminder to us cosmopolitans that we are all Heroes and Villains and Wolves.
Wink Poppy Midnight is an unconventional thriller written in purple prose. Wink is an eccentric nobody. Poppy is a haughty bully. And Midnight is a beautiful boy caught between a rock and a hard place. When their respective threads tangle together beyond repair, these three striplings inadvertently rediscover not only each other but themselves.
The three alternate narrators prove to be immensely confusing at first, so confusing that you’ll find yourself turning pages back and forth just to get your facts straight. The fundamental problem with the execution is this: these three distinct characters and personalities are written in precisely the same style, and therefore have precisely the same voice. However it is extremely difficult for me to work up sufficient energy to be bothered by this small hindrance, truly it is, because really this is my favourite kind of narration: the kind where you can’t extract the reality from the distortion and everyone lies. The truth becomes indeterminate when everybody fabricates their own personal illusions. What’s the point in reading a thriller, anyway, if you don’t struggle to some degree at the outset?
Tucholke’s writing is the foremost argument to read this book. It’s written like a fairy tale and a lullaby and a ballad all at once– three for the price of one. Although suffused with obscure literary references and countless key words in the triplicate– good things come in threes– not even these vitiations could dampen its lyrical beauty. (They could make you feel particularly inclined to bang your head against a brick wall on occasion, but that’s another story altogether.) Tucholke writes straight into your heart and doesn’t let go, until the timber of her words are the only reason you’re turning pages.
[...] that dark, empty part in my chest where my heart had never been, it started beating, beating, beating and I felt joy, red and dripping. (p. 112)
I wasn’t built for missing things. I was built for winning and getting what I wanted and not for trying to be better, not for trying to be the best version of myself, it wasn’t working anyway, god, it wasn’t working at all.
I had Midnight eating out of the palm of my hand, it was all so easy, so ridiculously easy. I was barely trying. He thought he was going to betray me, as if had the cunning, what a notion, as if, as if. (p. 113)
And I mean the only reason. The plot could have been better, to say the least. The paramount expanse of the novel consists of an unorthodox love triangle and Midnight’s multiple comparisons of Poppy’s creamy white skin vs. Wink’s freckles. It lagged frequently in the middle and the ending could have been so much bigger, better, shocking. It wasn’t a supreme letdown, per se, but it wasn’t a miracle or even an Event by anyone’s standards. It was only a moderate disappointment, a trifle of a washout blanching in the face of what might have been, if only this psychological thriller had been remotely thrilling. Therefore if you’re going to invest in the merger 247 pages that is Wink Poppy Midnight, I recommend that you read it all in one sitting– set aside a rainy Sunday or lazy summer afternoon and be done with it all in one fell swoop.
Recommended to poets and artisans, liars and frauds. 2.9/5 stars.
I’ll keep you posted,