Title: Wink, Poppy, Midnight
Author: April Genevieve Tucholke
Rating: 3.5/5 stars
Firstly, let me just get it out of my system and gush about that cover! Now, I don’t consider myself superficial – but I 100% purchased this book based on the merits of its stunning cover alone. The typography, colouring and embellishments on it are all A+++ *satisfied sigh*
“Revenge. Justice. Love. They are the three stories that all other stories are made up of. It’s the trifecta.”
Ahem. What about the content, did you say? I know this book has been met with extremely mixed reception – with people either dismissing it as pretentious nonsense or revering it as a masterpiece. I am firmly on the fence regarding this (I know, neutrality is a bit boring – boo!). On the one hand, I found the vivid writing and fairy tale imageries enchanting. On the other, the plot is overly convoluted – with its ultimate execution falling short of the author’s ambitious plans.
Everyone loved me and I loved myself and I got my way and did what I wanted and I still left people feeling like they were lucky to know me.
The characters in Wink, Poppy, Midnight are certainly memorable. Of the three protagonists, the most contentious figure is undoubtedly the Machiavellian Poppy. Poppy has all of the trappings of the stereotypical Mean Girl – she’s alluring, she’s domineering, she’s a gun at emotional manipulation. In fact, Poppy takes that caricature and turns it up to the nines – with her narration constantly belittling lesser mortals for their stupidity, while being constantly assured of herself. Her wanton ego-trip and unabashed callousness made for some gripping chapters. Yet, Poppy’s preoccupation (borderline obsession) on a boy dampened my enthusiasm for her character arc. Poppy’s personal development is entirely hinged on her male companions in this novel.
How could something so soft and supple and flawless as Poppy’s skin hide a heart as black as hers?
Then there’s Midnight, who plays the straight man – caught between the devious Poppy and the eccentric Wink. Thank goodness for Midnight, or else this book would make absolutely no sense. Poppy has the penchants for megalomaniac plots and long forays into the past, while Wink parallels every single event into a fairy tale. Between the two female characters – we get a plot that’s dense in metaphors and symbolism – without Midnight to decode these events I would have given up on the book. However, Midnight is a frustratingly passive character – who falls from one emotional manipulation into the next. It’s hard to connect with him as a person, and he got very little development throughout the novel.
“All good Heroes are scared, if they know the evil they face.”
Finally, there’s Wink – her chapters alludes to fairy tales and obscure tomes. Wink is completely engrossed in the fictional world, constantly seeking out characters to fill out the positions in her life: the hero, the villain, the monster. What initially starts as quaint and whimsical narration quickly begin to grate on my nerve – in the words of Sansa Stark: Life is not a song. Wink provides much of the thematic elements and magical realism edge to the novel, yet her brand of narration keeps her emotions at a firm arm’s length from the reader. I found it hard to empathise with her internal conflicts.
The kissing was supposed to come at the very end. After the monster, and the fight. After the glass coffin and the pinprick of blood.
The writing itself was elliptical and ornate in the best possible ways, especially when we deal with Poppy’s or Wink’s point of views. Each character had a distinct narrative voice, and I would have quickly identified them even without the chapter headings. Although the majority of the book’s events are mundane in nature, the proses imbued each scene with a sense of magic. Some may call it pretentious, but I adore this sort of writing – and will be back to devour whatever April Genevieve Tucholke releases next.
The best Heroes had a bit of evil in them, to make the good shine all the more for being next to it
As for the plot, it was part mystery, part fairy tale – coerced by Wink and her mysterious ways. The book keeps you guessing about the characters and their respective roles in the tale. There is a pervasive sense of unease throughout the book, and the enigma gradually takes the novel to a darker place. However, the final reveal requires several leaps of the imagination. Due to the preposterous suppositions I had to make in order for the plot twist to work – I felt the book lost some of its magnetic charm towards the end.
I felt the book’s themes intended to culminate in a profound and startling revelation about the nature of stories. However, it missed the mark by a long shot – leaving many readers either confused or discontent. I sat there, waiting for the moment of impact – but it never came. Wink, Poppy, Midnight ultimately feels incomplete.
Wink, Poppy, Midnight is one beautifully written riddle filled with memorable characters. Personally, I didn’t like the book’s answer to the puzzle it proposed – but it might work for you?
Tell me guys, do you like clear cut endings or ones which leave you to ponder? Have you read Wink, Poppy, Midnight? What did you think?