Cover image for The midnight dress
The midnight dress
Foxlee, Karen, 1971-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Alfred A. Knopf, [2013]

Physical Description:
277 pages ; 22 cm
Rose, nearly sixteen, is used to traveling around with her alcoholic father but connects with the people of a small, coastal Australian town, especially classmate Pearl and reclusive Edie, who teaches her to sew a magical dress for the Harvest Festival while a mystery unfolds around them.
Reading Level:
HL 710 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 4.7 10.0 161704.

Reading Counts RC High School 5.4 18 Quiz: 61679.


Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
Y FICTION Young Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Quiet misfit Rose doesn't expect to fall in love with the sleepy beach town of Leonora. Nor does she expect to become fast friends with beautiful, vivacious Pearl Kelly, organizer of the high school float at the annual Harvest Festival parade. It's better not to get too attached when Rose and her father live on the road, driving their caravan from one place to the next whenever her dad gets itchy feet. But Rose can't resist the mysterious charms of the town or the popular girl, try as she might.

Pearl convinces Rose to visit Edie Baker, once a renowned dressmaker, now a rumored witch. Together Rose and Edie hand-stitch an unforgettable dress of midnight blue for Rose to wear at the Harvest Festival--a dress that will have long-lasting consequences on life in Leonora, a dress that will seal the fate of one of the girls. Karen Foxlee's breathtaking novel weaves friendship, magic, and a murder mystery into something moving, real, and distinctly original.

Author Notes

Karen Foxlee was born in Mount Isa, Queensland, Australia on February 3, 1971. Before becoming an author, she worked as a registered nurse. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in creative writing from the University of the Sunshine Coast. Her first novel, The Anatomy of Wings, was published in 2007. It won the Emerging Author Award at the 2006 Queensland Premier's Literary Award, The Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best First Book South East Asia Pacific Region, and The Dobbie Award. Her other works include The Midnight Dress. Her title Ophelia and the Marvellous Boy made the finalist list for the Aurealis Awards in 2014. This title also made the Readings Children's Book Prize 2015 shortlist. She wrote the middle-grade novel, A Most Magical Girl, which won the 2017 Readings Children's Book Prize. Her most recent novel is Lenny's Book of Everything (2018). It won a 2019 Indie Book Award in the Children's category.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

I just want a dark dress. Maybe black. I like dark things. This is what 16-year-old Rose Lovell tells Edie Baker, the reclusive dressmaker her new classmates have practically dared her to visit. Like Edie, Rose has a mysterious, transient past, and she has come to embody Edie's memory of her own potent years on the road. But for stoic Rose, a dazzling new friend and confidant, Pearl, has given meaning and stability to her new life in Leonora, the coastal Australian town where she has just arrived with her unstable, nomadic father. As Pearl and Rose prepare with Edie's help for the town's harvest festival, they test the limits of their burgeoning friendship, stir up old secrets, and are entwined in a tragedy that leaves the town questioning Edie's past and the girls' futures. Though the novel is at times weighed down by multiple story layers, Foxlee (The Anatomy of Wings, 2009) depicts the depths of affection and the threat of loss and creates a mystical, macabre work that won't be quickly forgotten.--Walters Wright, Lexi Copyright 2010 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

This haunting story alternates between the present-in which local police in a smalltown Australia try to solve the murder of a girl whose body was found in a midnight-blue dress-and the past, which details the circumstances leading up to the crime. In those earlier events, 15-year-old Rose comes to town with her shiftless drifter father and becomes fast friends with a girl named Pearl. Seeing that Rose cannot afford a new dress for a town event, Pearl suggests she visit eccentric Edie for help sewing one-thus the midnight-blue dress is born, setting into motion a tragic chain of events. Narrator Mackenzie-Smith is Australian and thus ably provides authentic accents for the characters. She lends Edie a distinct voice, but doesn't clearly differentiate Rose, Pearl, and their schoolmates-and this can be confusing to listeners. Mackenzie-Smith's narration is clean and clear, if somewhat uniform, and the murder mystery and significance of the dress will keep listeners engaged until the very end. Ages 14-up. A Knopf hardcover. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

School Library Journal Review

Gr 9 Up-Nearly 16, Rose Lovell has spent the last 11 years drifting around Australia with her alcoholic father, never staying anywhere long and never forming any relationships. She assumes their time in Leonora will be no different. But Rose isn't in town long before she is befriended by idealistic, romantically minded Pearl, and she finds herself agreeing to see an eccentric old woman to have a dress made for the annual Harvest Parade. Week after week Edie Baker teaches Rose everything she knows about dressmaking while telling stories from her past. The unlikely and unexpected bonds Rose forms with Pearl and Edie are her first true relationships, yet tragedy looms. Olivia Mackenzie-Smith delivers a solid performance of this compelling story of friendship and loss. Her Australian accent firmly places listeners in the setting and she fully inhabits both the independent yet lonely Rose and the lively and naive Pearl. Each chapter begins with details from the tragic night of the Harvest Parade and the subsequent investigation before returning to Rose's narrative so listeners never forget there is heartbreak in the very near future. MacKenzie-Smith adds a slight roughening and weariness to Edie's voice, conveying her age and experience. This vividly written mystery with its fully drawn protagonist will linger in listener's minds.-Amanda -Raklovits, Champaign Public Library, IL (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.