The Midnight Dress

25 January 2013 Books

The Midnight Dress

Karen Foxlee

When 15-year-old Rose Lovell rolls into the north Queensland sugarcane town of Leonora with her no-hoper dad, she’s towing a caravan-full of teen angst and a deep sense of loss for her long-dead mother. But then she meets the ever-optimistic and popular Pearl Kelly, and the enigmatic Edie Baker, who teaches her the ways of dressmaking in her rambling, rundown house. There are also secrets to uncover in the rainforest and its looming mountain, which Rose explores while slowly unpicking the seams of her own life. There’s a whodunnit element to this story, too – a young girl from the town is missing, presumed murdered – but it’s more accurate to call The Midnight Dress a rite-of-passage tale, laced with pain and a sense of urgency. This is reflected in the spontaneous monsoonal downpours, in the muffling humidity and in the ancient rose gums and flocks of flying foxes. Like an exotic flower, Foxlee’s second novel unfurls one petal at a time, but it’s the languorous, metaphor-laden prose that really carries this dark little gem of a story.

Anastasia Safioleas