📚 Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe by Heather Webber

Reviewed Oct. 2019

Narrator: Stephanie Willis, Bethany Lind, Nicholas Techosky
Length: 11 hours 46 minutes
Publisher: Macmillan Audio⎮2019

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Summary

"Listeners will be transported to the small Southern town of Wicklow by the drawls and laid-back pacing of the narrators.... This is a beautiful story of family, love, and forgiveness." (AudioFile Magazine, Earphones Award winner)

Heather Webber's Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe is a captivating blend of magical realism, heartwarming romance, and small-town Southern charm.

Nestled in the mountain shadows of Alabama lies the little town of Wicklow. It is here that Anna Kate has returned to bury her beloved Granny Zee, owner of the Blackbird Café.

It was supposed to be a quick trip to close the café and settle her grandmother’s estate, but despite her best intentions to avoid forming ties or even getting to know her father’s side of the family, Anna Kate finds herself inexplicably drawn to the quirky Southern town her mother ran away from so many years ago, and the mysterious blackbird pie everybody can’t stop talking about.

As the truth about her past slowly becomes clear, Anna Kate will need to decide if this lone blackbird will finally be able to take her broken wings and fly.

The Audiobookworm's Review

Rating: 5 Stars

I discovered Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe back in August, but made myself hold off on listening to it until October. Boy, am I glad I waited! This was the perfect type of book to start off my October. It's not scary, or even spooky, but it still put me in the mood for magic.

Magical Realism is a tough sub genre to grasp, at least it is for me. I always seem to enjoy it, but for some reason, my mind wants to firmly put it in either a Fantasy or Fiction box, when it's really neither... or both...? I'm still not sure. What I do know is that Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe just became one of my favorite listens of 2019 and maybe ever.

Forgive the confused introduction, but one thing I'm sure of is how much I enjoyed this book. It was slow, sweet, and smooth. Oh, and there was some magic. But not "in your face" magic, more like peripheral magic. It was just there on the outer edge of the story, subtly pulling the strings, without having to be the main focus. There wasn't an intricate system of magic, with rules and lore. In truth, we never really learned much about it. You would think that would be frustrating, but it really wasn't. Everything was character driven and the ending tied up the character plots so nicely, that I couldn't possibly be left feeling unsatisfied.

There was a lot of genre crossing happening in Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe. There was family tension, drama, a little bit of mystery, a dash of romance, some humor, and it all worked together magnificently. I enjoyed each of the POV characters nearly equally, only preferring Anna Kate somewhat because of her ties to The Blackbird Café and its unique charm and mysticism. In a rare occurrence, none of the characters really got on my nerves either. They were all written with such finesse that even those with potentially abrasive personalities (i.e. curmudgeons and busybodies) came across as lovable and well intentioned.

The audiobook was less than 12 hours long, but I'll admit that it did feel longer than that, although not necessarily in a bad way. This is an extremely slow paced book and that worked in favor of the setting. Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe is set in the small town of Wicklow, Alabama. Over the course of the story, Wicklow almost takes on its own personality as if it were a character. Let me tell you, I love it when places become "characters", especially small towns. I know that this wasn't a cozy mystery, but it sure was cozy. I reveled in the slow pacing of this book as one would wallow in a comfortable bed.

This was my introduction to Heather Webber, but I'm hoping it won't be the last I hear from her. Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe is one of those books that makes me wish I could wipe my memory of all traces of it, just so I could listen to it again for the first time. There's a reason I haven't seen any negative reviews of it. Sometimes, just sometimes, a book lives up to the hype.

Narration review: Stephanie Willis, Bethany Lind, and Nicholas Techosky narrated this audiobook to perfection. Techosky read a much smaller role, so I didn't hear from him as much, but his performance earned no complaints. Willis and Lind where the stars. They were absolute stars! Both women went above and beyond to help endear me to each of their characters, imbuing them with subtle traces of personality that reached beyond the pages.

I was especially impressed with Bethany Lind's southern accent. I can be rather picky when it comes to southern accents, but Lind's sounded so genuine, I am wondering if it was authentic. She did something I've never heard another narrator portraying a southern accent do, even though I hear it daily in North Carolina. She appropriately pronounced the word "oil". I can't speak for the entire southern United States, but where I'm from, this word is often pronounced in a way that sounds like "ull". As soon as I heard that from Lind, I knew I would jump in front of a moving train from her. ♣︎

Let me know what you think!

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