The intrigue of The Raven Boys and the "supernatural or not" question of The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer coalesce in this young adult mystery, where nothing is quite as it seems, no one is quite who you think, and everything can change on a dime.
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.
For fans of Holly Black, We Were Liars, and The Virgin Suicides, this mysterious tale full of intrigue, dread, beauty, and a whiff of something strange will leave you utterly entranced.
About the Author
April Genevieve Tucholke is the author of Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea and Between the Spark and the Burn and curated the horror/thriller anthology Slasher Girls & Monster Boys. April has lived in many places around the world and currently resides in Oregon with her husband.
Read an Excerpt
***This excerpt is from an advance uncorrected proof***
The first time I slept with Poppy, I cried. We were both sixteen, and I’d been in love with her since I was a kid, since I was still reading monster comics and spending too much time practicing sleight-of-hand tricks because I wanted to be a magician.
People say you can’t feel real love that young, but I did. For Poppy.
She was the girl next door who fell off her bike and laughed at her bloody knees. She was the neighborhood hero who organized games of Burn the Witch and got everyone to play. She was the high school queen who reached forward one day during math class, grabbed Holly Trueblood’s thick, white-blond hair in her fist, and cut it off at the skull while Holly screamed and screamed. All because someone said Holly’s hair was prettier than her own.
She was Poppy.
After we slept together, I started crying. Just a little bit, just because my heart was so full, just a couple of small little tears. Poppy shoved me off, stood up, and laughed. It wasn’t a nice laugh. It wasn’t a We both lost IT together, how wicked of us, how fantastic, I will always love you because we did this One Big Thing for the first time together kind of laugh.
No, it was more of a Is that all it is? And you’re crying over it? kind of laugh.
Poppy slipped her long, white limbs into her pale yellow dress, like milk sliding into melted butter. She was bonier back then, and didn’t need to wear a bra. She stood in front of the lamp, facing me, and the ray of light shone right through her thin summer clothes, outlining her sweet girl parts in a way I would think of over and over again afterward, until it drove me insane.
“Midnight, you’re going to be the best-looking guy in school by senior year.” Poppy leaned her elbows on the window-sill and stared out at the dark. Our high mountain air was thin but clean, and it smelled even better at night. Pine and juniper and earth. The night smells mingled with the smell of jasmine—Poppy dabbed it from a tiny glass bottle in her pocket, each earlobe, each wrist.
“That’s why I let you have me first. I wanted to give it to him. He’s the only boy I’ll ever love. But you don’t know anything about him, and I’m not going to tell you anything about him.” My heart stopped. Started back up again.
“Poppy.” My voice was weak and whispery and I hated it.
She tapped her fingers on the sill and ignored me.
An owl hooted outside.
Poppy swept her blond hair back behind her shoulder in that gangly, awkward way she still had then. It was completely gone by the time school started up—she was nothing but smooth elegance and cold, precise movements.
“And now no one will be able to say I didn’t have taste, Midnight Hunt, even when I was young. You’re going to be so beautiful at eighteen that girls will melt just looking at you, your long black lashes, your glossy brown hair, your blue, blue eyes. But I had you first, and you had me first. And it was a good move, on my part. A brilliant move.”
And then came the year of me following Poppy around, my heart full of poetry and bursting with love, and never seeing how little she really cared, no matter how many times I had her in my arms and how many times she laughed at me afterward. No matter how many times she made fun of me in front of her friends. No matter how many times I told her I loved her and she never said it back. Not once. Not even close.
Every story needs a Hero.
Mim read it in my tea leaves the day Midnight moved in next door. She leaned over, pushed my hair out of the way, put her fingers on my chin, and said: “Your story is about to begin, and that boy moving boxes into the slanted old house across the road is the start of it.”
And I knew Mim was right about Midnight because the leaves also told her that the big rooster was going to die a bloody death in the night. And sure enough, a fox got him. We found him in the morning, his soft feathers stiff with blood, his body broken on the ground, right next to our red wheelbarrow, like in that one poem.
I fell in love with Leaf Bell the day he beat the shit out of DeeDee Ruffler.
She was the biggest bully in school and he was the first and only kid to take her down. I’m a bully too, so you might have thought I’d sympathize with her, but I didn’t.
DeeDee was a short, wrong-side-of-the-tracks nobody with a mile-high cruel streak. She had a strong, stupid body and a plain, round face and a mean, grating voice, and she’d tried to fight Leaf before, she’d called him all kinds of things—poor, ginger-haired, skinny, dirty, diseased— and he’d just laughed. But the day she called little seventh grader Fleet Park a slant-eyed boy-loving Chink, Fleet started crying , and Leaf snapped. He beat DeeDee into a coma, right there on the school’s cement steps, he pounded her head on the concrete, knees pinning her down by the chest, her boobs jiggling , his red hair flying around his lanky shoulders, the snow-capped mountains in the background.
My heart swelled three sizes that day.
DeeDee was never the same after Leaf smashed her head in. I’d read about lobotomies in my Modern Woman’s Science class, and that’s how she was now: detached, lethargic, use- less.
Leaf didn’t get into trouble for that fight, he never got in trouble, just like me. Besides, everyone was sick of DeeDee, even the teachers, especially the teachers. She was as mean to them as she was to everyone else.
There was an evil in me too, a cruel streak. I don’t know where it came from and I didn’t really want it, no more than I’d want big feet or mousy brown hair or a piggish nose.
But fuck it. If I’d been born with a piggish nose, then I would own it, like I own the cruel and the mean.
Leaf was the first to recognize me for what I was. I was gorgeous, even as a kid. I looked like an angel, cherub lips and blushing cheeks and elegant bones and blond halo hair. 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.
No one thinks they’re shallow, ask every last person you know, they’ll deny it, but I’m living proof, I get away with murder because I’m pretty.
But Leaf saw right through the pretty, saw straight through it. I was fourteen when Leaf Bell lobotomized DeeDee on the school steps, and I was fifteen when I followed Leaf home and tried to kiss him in the hayloft. He laughed in my face and told me I was ugly on the inside and left me sitting alone in the hay.
Every story needs a Villain.
The Villain is just as important as the Hero. More important, maybe. I’ve read a lot of books—some out loud to the Orphans, and some just to myself. And all the books had a Villain. The White Witch. The Wicked Witch. The Gentleman with the Thistledown Hair. Bill Sykes. Sauron. Mr. Hyde. Mrs. Danvers. Iago. Grendel.
I didn’t need Mim’s tea-reading to learn the Villain of my story. The Villain had blond hair and the Hero’s heart on her sleeve. She had teeth and claws and a silver tongue, like the smooth-talking devil in Ash and Grim.
I had an older brother. A half brother. His name was Alabama (to be explained later) and he lived with our mom in Lourmarin, France. My parents weren’t divorced. They just didn’t live together. My mom wrote historical mysteries, and two years ago, in the middle of a blizzard, she decided she would keep writing historical mysteries, but in France instead of here. My dad sighed, and shrugged, and off she went. And Alabama went with her. He’d always been her favorite any- way, probably because his father was my mother’s true love. Alabama’s dad was Muscogee and Choctaw. He ran back to Alabama—the state, not the brother—before my brother was even born. Then my dad came along, with his big heart and weakness for creatures in need. He married my pregnant mother, and the rest was history.
Until she gypsied herself and my brother off to a land of grapes and cheese last winter, that is.
So my dad sold the dull, spacious, three-bedroom, three- bathroom house I grew up in, and moved us into a five- bedroom, one-bath, crumbling, creaking old house in the country.
Five acres, apple orchard, sparkling, bubbling creek. Just in time for summer.
And I didn’t mind. Not a bit.
The house was two miles from town, two miles from Bro- ken Bridge, with its Victorian houses and cobblestone streets and expensive gourmet restaurants and hordes of skiing, snow-bunny tourists in the winter.
And it was two blessed, beautiful miles away from Poppy. No more soft taps on my window in the middle of the night from the girl three doors down. No more Poppy laughing as she crawled over my windowsill and into my bed. No more me not knowing whose cologne I smelled all over the front of her shirt.
I was done being a sucker. And this old house, nestled between apple trees and pine trees, in a shadowy, forgotten corner of the mountains . . . it was the first step to my freedom.
My freedom from Poppy.
I would have given it to Leaf the second he asked for it, except he never ever, ever did, so I gave it to Midnight instead.
Midnight and his big droopy eyes, his heart hanging out of his chest, the sighs, the softness, the kisses. I hated him for it, really, really hated him for it, hated hated.
Hated, hated, hated, hated.
My parents still thought I was a virgin. They never discussed sex in front of me, they refused to acknowledge that I’d grown up because they wanted me to be their stupid little angel baby forever, and it made me rage rage rage inside, all the time, all the time. I wore the shortest skirts I could find,
and the lowest-cut tops, oh, how they squirmed, their eyes scrambling to focus on some part of me that wasn’t sexual, so they could keep on thinking of me as they always had.
My parents still gave me dolls as presents, ones that looked like me, blond, with big eyes and puffy red lips. And when- ever I saw another box sitting on the kitchen table, wrapped in pink paper with my name on it, I knew I would find myself over at Midnight’s window later that night, tap-tap-tapping, wanting to be let in so I could prove to myself how un-angelic I was.
Most men lead lives of quiet desperation. Leaf said that a lot. It was some quote from a tree-hugging hippie who lived a boring life in the woods a million years ago, and Leaf probably thought it would open my eyes and make me wise up and get in touch with my inner deeps, but all it did was make me want to tear off all my clothes and run through the town screaming.
If I was going to lead a life of desperation, then it would be loud, not quiet.
I watched the Hero as he moved boxes into the old Lucy Rish house. I stood by an apple tree, and I was there a long time before he saw me. I was good at not being seen when I didn’t want to be. I’d learned how to be quiet and invisible from reading Sneaks and Shadows.
I hadn’t shown Sneaks and Shadows to my brothers and sisters. I didn’t want them learning how to hide in broad day- light. Not yet.
I hoped the Hero would like it in his new house. Lucy hadn’t liked it. She’d been a mean, superstitious old woman who called us witches and clutched her rosary whenever she saw us. And she threw apples at the Orphans if they played too close to her lawn. Her husband had been nice, he was always smiling at us from across the road, but he died three years ago. Felix thinks Lucy poisoned him, but I don’t know. Old people die all the time without the help of poison.
Excerpted from "Wink Poppy Midnight"
Copyright © 2016 April Genevieve Tucholke.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Young Readers Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Wink Poppy Midnight was one of those books where I wasn’t really sure what was happening, and while gorgeously mysterious and atmospheric, I don’t think it would have held my attention as well if I had read it rather than listened. I’ve only seen a handful of episodes from each show but this book reminded me of a mashup between Riverdale and Pretty Little Liars. There’s something that feels almost supernatural amidst the unknowns, and the characters felt like they came right out of one of those shows, which both worked and didn’t in its favor. Following 3 teens, Wink Poppy Midnight explores friendship and lust and lies vs trust, all while weaving this weird spell over the reader. On the surface, you have Wink who is eccentric and very much in her own world, Midnight who doesn’t really fit anywhere, and Poppy the stereotypical popular girl. But those descriptions don’t matter for long because the plot unfolds in a way that makes you question every character, every experience, every moment as a clue to unfolding the bigger picture. At first, I liked Wink. I thought her perspective of the world was odd but magical, intriguing as it was so different. Her fantasies, her stories, never felt truly made up. Something glinted at the fringes, some sort of truth. In contrast, I just didn’t like Poppy at all. She’s the Queen Bee, the mean girl, and if we’re supposed to hate her then I’d say the author did a good job there. Even with the potential for redemption, I wasn’t feeling it. Midnight fell somewhere between the two, a neutral ground character that I didn’t care about nor hate, just a conduit for the events around him. But this is the kind of book where the characters aren’t as important. It’s a vibe, a feeling you get when you read it. Part whimsical fairy tale, part thrilling mystery, set in a contemporary world that might be more than it seems. Or it might not be. I was never truly sure which one it was until the end. Unfortunately, when a book is so heavily moody without an engaging cast of characters driving the story, I tend to lose interest. It worked out that I chose to listen to this book rather than read the hardcover on my shelf, so if you’re also someone who needs more than “atmosphere” to keep you hooked I’d recommend the audio for this one (which was quite good). And so I leave you with this wishy-washy review because even after thinking about this book, I’m still not sure where I stand with it. Points for setting the mood but then lacking characters I cared about leaves it somewhere in the middle floating aimlessly as I felt Wink Poppy Midnight did in my head.
Tucholke's story, Wink Poppy Midnight, is about a disturbed group of teenagers participating in disturbed behavior. The writing makes you want to read more because it reads like one would expect current teens to talk. However, the disturbed thinking of this group of teenagers makes you want to stop. In fact, I was asking myself "why am I reading this?" before the end of the first sentence. I would highly recommend this for those working on their Master's degree in Counseling or Psychology when they need to write an analysis on (& diagnose) book characters. However, any other reason to read this book would be inadvisable (unless you want to believe the absolute worst in people). My opinion is solely my own, but I do want to thank Goodreads, Penguin Teen, and April Genevieve Tucholke for a copy of the book. Even though I didn't like it, I do recommend it for people in the Professional Counseling field as an easy case study.
The writing is so immersive. I felt the fear, smelled the jasmine, tasted the dust. A fantastic read.
While this book was well written and I loved the characters' names, this book fell flat. The author would build the scene up only for nothing to really happen. By the time some secrets were revealed it was anticlimatic.
I loved it! Super easy read, and I loved how you were able to understand each characters perspective on what was going on, or what already happened. Now I cant wait to read April Genevieve Tucholke first book " Between the devil and the deep blue sea".
Midnight is looking to escape Poppy. Poppy is looking for control of her life, and maybe everyone else’s. Wink is looking to spin her life into a fairy tale, complete with heroes and villains. But the heroes and the villains may not be who we think. This book was marketed very heavily with the “Every story needs a hero. Every story needs a villain.Every story needs a secret” tagline. Which is a dang good tagline. Congratulations if you thought that up. But it never felt as mysterious as I wanted to it be when I was actually reading. And I don’t know that there are any heroes here. If you’ve read Tucholke’s Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, this will have a similar feel. But it never really feels as well developed. The plot is pretty light, and late to develop. While I can get behind a short, succinct story about a specific event, this feels either too much or not enough. And the twists aren’t particularly surprising. And by the time we get to them, I don’t really care. I don’t think the characters in this novel are meant to be likable, probably part of the reason for the shorter length. But I never feel invested in them. They want to be interesting so bad, and yet. While the style of the writing can be enjoyable, it also keeps us distanced from the characters in many ways, even as we’re getting things from their three separate points of view. I wanted all of them to be more complicated. Everything in this book had the appearance of depth, but not much when you really started to dig. And the characters are perfect representations of that. This feels like a compelling idea that needed one further step to make it really spectacular. Still, it’s worth a read for the prose, because Tuchoke writes some damn good prose. And at just under 250 pages, it won’t take long to read.
When I saw there was another book by April Tucholke coming out, I knew I had to grab it up any way I could. I LOVED her debut novel and bought the sequel before I even read the synopsis. I wanted to read this one too just to see what sort of trouble Tucholke put her characters into this time. But I can't say it was what I was expecting. Every story has the same elements. A plot, a setting, characters, a conflict, and a resolution. The villain is the conflict, the hero is the resolution or the character, and then there's the secret or the plot. But in this story, no one really knows who is who, which way is up, or really anything once the book comes to a close. For the first half of this book I have to admit I was pretty confused as to what was going on. I have to also admit that I was pretty bored with all the descriptions of all the characters in there. It started to pick up when one of them started being mean and doing some outrageous things. (I won't tell you who for fear of spoilers.) So much so that I really disliked that person. But if it's one thing that Tucholke has taught me with every book I've read by her, it's to not trust anything. I'm not sure what I can talk about for this book because I don't want to spoil anything for anyone. But I can say, don't get too caught up in the story. Don't trust anything. What you think you know, you don't. The creepy part about this one is... you never see it coming. This book is definitely weird and will make you question your reading comprehension. (Or maybe that's just me lol) The best part of this though was the reason I fell in love with Tucholke's book in the first place. Her writing style. I love the way she shows emphasis by repeating some words. I find sometimes when I'm talking so it was interesting to read it. This book also reassured me that I will give anything she writes a chance just to get more of her gorgeous prose. This kept me guessing and kept me on my toes. Basically all that I expected from a Tucholke book. I can't wait until the rest of you readers can get this book in your hands as well!
I hate to say that I am a little bit disappointed with this book. That doesn't mean that this was a bad book. Not at all. It just wasn't what I had hoped it would be. I had really high hopes for this book and bumped it to the front of my TBR pile so it is really quite possible that some of my disappointment is simply a result of unrealistic expectations. This story is told from three point of views. Wink is one of the Bell children. She is a sweet girl with curly red hair who lives across the street from Midnight. Midnight is a genuinely nice boy who has just moved into a crooked little house across the street from Wink with his father. Poppy is a bully who likes to push people around and manipulate Midnight every chance she gets. I did like the way the story was laid with with quick chapters told from the perspectives of the three main characters. The story really felt like a fairy tale in a lot of ways. The voices of the characters were very distinctive as well as interesting. I wouldn't really say that I grew to like any of them though. There was just no connection for me. Of course, I am an old lady that barely remembers what it was like to be a teenager anymore. I knew going into the book that there would be a secret and someone in the story might be lying from reading the description. It is even on the cover of the book. I guess I was hoping for some kind of epic event to happen but in the end I was never very excited about anything that actually happened in the book. I would even say that I was a bit bored at times. I do think that a lot of people will probably enjoy this book. It just didn't work for me. This is the first book by April Genevieve Tucholke and I would be very interested in trying one of her other novels since there were aspects of her writing style that I did enjoy. I received an advance reader edition of this book from Penguin Publishing Group - Dial Books via First to Read for the purpose of providing an honest review.
Wink Poppy Midnight is one of the most unique books I've ever read. As the cover states, there's a hero, a villain and a liar in this book and you have to figure out which character is which. And as you can guess from the title, the story revolves around three main characters, Wink, Poppy, and Midnight. We cycle through each character's POV and get each side of the story as it progresses. All of the characters are fascinating in their own way and the POV is labeled so you know who is who. Though I think you'd be able to tell quite quickly since each character is so different. Wink is eccentric and I couldn't really pin her down. Her entire family is odd, and the mom lets the children do as they please. She lives next to the house that Midnight just moved into. She's constantly blurring reality with things from the adventure books she reads. Poppy is the picture perfect beauty that gets her way all the time but has a wicked heart. She's a bad person, we know that from page one where she cut off a schoolmate's hair because she wanted to. It left me questioning if she was the villain from the start. Midnight just moved into a creaky old house with his Dad. His mother and brother moved away so he's a bit broken and lonely. It doesn't help that his love interest (Poppy) doesn't care for him at all and just strings him along when she feels like getting attention. He was my favorite character, mostly because I was hoping he'd be able to get from under Poppy's thumb and find happiness. Unique, enthralling, and full of twists and turns, Wink Poppy Midnight is a must read. I wasn't sure where the book would take me when I first started, but it wraps up nicely and we figure out which character is the hero, villain, and liar by the end. I can't really say more without giving away some of the mystery so I think I'll leave it at that. Just know the book kept me on my toes and wondering what would happen next. I recommend Wink Poppy Midnight if you're looking for a unique YA.
I love this author's writing - beautiful, haunting, distinctive. Vivid descriptions and evoking feelings in the reader? This author can accomplish more with one sentence than others with a whole page. How do I describe this story? It contains anywhere from one to three unreliable narrators, dark fairy tale moments, startling plot developments, tarot cards, tea leaves, strawberries, lazy summer days, and characters that are charming, eccentric, and frequently surprising. It's my policy to never give away spoilers - so I'll just say if you enjoy books with a strange, magical, almost lyrical storyline that pull you to another world, this is your book. I was completely enthralled. I received a digital ARC from Penguin First to Read in exchange for an honest review.
I loved April's other books, so it goes without saying that I was beyond eager to get my greedy hands on her new words. Wink, Poppy, and Midnight are all such different characters. I loved the sharp, staccato chapters. Normally, I can't stand more than 2 POVs, but I was craving each character to tell me what was going on from their side. The plot was twisty and intriguing in a way that only April can give us. Not to mention her gorgeous and atmospheric prose. I want to live in her words and never come out. With this story, she has officially become an author whose grocery list I will read.
***Review posted on The Eater of Books! blog*** Wink Poppy Midnight by April Tucholke Publisher: Dial Books Publication Date: March 22, 2016 Rating: 4 stars Source: ARC sent by the publisher Summary (from Goodreads): 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 knows. Someone is lying. What I Liked: I'm just going to say this now - this review is going to be vague and weird and probably not make a lot of sense. Which is fine, because it'll reflect the book really nicely. You'll see! This book was so strange. All of Tucholke's books are strange. I loved Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, and really liked Between the Spark and Burn. I liked this new book too! Tucholke weaves a beautiful and strange tale of two girls and a boy, each the hero and villain of their story. This book is so strange, I don't even know how to summarize it. Usually I'd try to summarize the book in my own words, in the second paragraph of this section. I don't even know where to start. We have Wink, how is one of those weird Bell children. Wink is quiet and imperturbable, impossible to bully despite being a perfect target. She's a dreamer, living in books of magic and fairy tales. Midnight is lonely boy whose mother and stepbrother moved to France, leaving him and his father. Poppy is a mean, cruel bully, a girl who has all the attention. This book is told from each character's first-person point-of-view. The story starts with Midnight's. In the beginning, we find out that Midnight and Poppy have a sexual relationship. Poppy doesn't care about Midnight, but Midnight is infatuated with her. They're neighbors. And then he and his father move to an old house next to Wink's farm. Midnight decides that it's time to let Poppy go. But you leave Poppy when she lets you go, not when you want. Midnight doesn't want to be anything to her anymore. Especially when he officially meets Wink, and feels peace with her. And then things get weird. Poppy doesn't like that Midnight is walking away from her. Sure, she doesn't care about him. She doesn't care about the other two boys she has sex with, either. But she doesn't want anyone to not want her, or not want to be her. Everyone hates her, and she knows it a little, but she craves the attention that her parents don't give her. So when Midnight starts hanging around Wink... that's when the story takes off. I won't spill anything more. I never liked Poppy, but it was intriguing to be in her head. I didn't hate her, but I didn't like her at all, but I felt a little bad for her too. I liked Wink, with her weird tendencies and her head-in-the-clouds way. She's very smart, and eclectic. My favorite character had to be Midnight though. As much as this story is about Poppy and her jealousy, and Wink and her determination to live a fairy tale, the story seemed to move around Midnight. Read the rest of my review on my blog, The Eater of Books! - eaterofbooks DOT blogspot DOT com :)
A great book with a lot of complex and multi dimensional characters. Would recommend.