Check out the gorgeous cover art for The Light of the Midnight Stars by Rena Rossner, along with an exclusive excerpt from her new fantasy novel.
Rena Rossner, author of Sisters of the Winter Wood, returns with her sophomore novel, The Light of the Midnight Stars.
Set in the Hungarian woods, the story follows three Jewish sisters, descendants of King Solomon who are gifted with his skill for magic. When their community is destroyed by accusations of witchcraft, the family is forced to flee — but their powers may still be needed to fight the darkness spreading across the land.
Drink in the beautiful cover art for The Light of the Midnight Stars here!
‘The Light of the Midnight Stars’ cover reveal
“The idea for The Light of the Midnight Stars was born in a closet,” Rossner tells Hypable. “Not my closet, but one in which my Romanian grandmother used to light Shabbat candles. I set out to find out more about the place my grandmother came from, and along the way I fell into a world rich with Jewish, Hungarian and Romanian myths, legends and fables. In the process, I opened the door to a lost world — the world of the Jews in late 14th and early 15th century what was then Hungary but is now Slovakia, who fled from pogroms and anti-Jewish edicts in Hungary only to encounter them again in Wallachia, and other regions of Romania and Eastern Europe. What I ended up with was part hypothesis, part fairy tale.”
“I never figured out where my grandmother actually came from or why she lit candles in a closet — but perhaps the story I was able to tell as a result is more important than the truth,” she says. “My grandmother was a great story teller, my father is a story teller too. Perhaps the passing on of that tradition – the way that we tell stories in order to make sense of our past, present, and future, is more important than where and how we light our candles.”
Excerpt from ‘Light of the Midnight Stars’ by Rena Rossner
There was a time when everyone knew about Trnava. Once, it was a bustling market town that sat at the crossroads between the kingdom of Poland and the rest of Bohemia. Once, the king of Hungary, Charles the First, visited the town and conducted important negotiations there. But there are stories you don’t know. Stories the residents of the town like to keep secret.
If you listen closely, sometimes you can still hear the old stories whispered. Legends about Trnava and the people that lived there, about the great forests that once surrounded the town. There are tales of red-haired mountain men and women who could work miracles, of a people who could trace their lineage all the way back to the great King Solomon himself. Tales of a people who kept to themselves, who lived in a tiny quarter of the city of Trnava where they built their own house of worship. They say that on the ceiling of their synagogue there were a thousand tiny stars.
There are stories told that the congregants who worshiped in the synagogue could work miracles. That the oldest among them could fly cloud dragons in the sky. It is said that when the Black Mist spread over the kingdom of Hungary, these people were the only ones who fought and didn’t flee.
But the real story is much more complicated than that. It is the story of a people who forever lived at the edge of others’ kindness and yet still found a way to thrive. It is the story of a family that survived, and of three girls who, when faced with unimaginable tragedy and impossible odds, did what they had to do even though it wasn’t what was expected of them.
Some say they were just an ordinary family who lived in an extraordinary time.
But I know the truth.
This is the story of the Black Mist which swept through the Carpathian Mountains on the wings of a Black Dragon. Some say they can still feel it when they touch the trees. In the rich black sap that runs down to the roots and the rot that’s buried under the ground. Despite the beauty of the trees and the crystal-clear waters of the lakes and the incessant babble of the rivers and streams, the mist still carries its echo. The animals feel it in their bones.
It could return at any moment.
Once, Trnava was a village like any other village. It was made up of brick houses, a town square, large wooden churches, a small synagogue, a fortified wall that surrounded the town, and a river, named the Trnavka for all the thorny bushes that lined its banks. Once, there were three different forests around the town of Trnava: the Šenkvický wood, the Kráľovský wood, and the ancient Satu-Mare which once stretched all the way through the Kingdom of Hungary until it reached the Șinca Veche forest, right on the border of Wallachia. Strange things happened in these forests, things that nobody liked to talk about, but everyone did. There was a saying that was popular in the region once, and some still whisper it, even today. “Do not speak of the forest, for it will remember your name.”
But that is another story, for a different day.
The Light of the Midnight Stars by Rena Rossner hits bookstores on April 13, 2021. Find out more at Hachettebookgroup.com and GoodReads, and pre-order The Light of the Midnight Stars from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and your local independent bookstore.