I first became interested in Diane Stanley's writing through her nonfiction work. I really liked her children's biographies of Leonardo daVinci and Michealangelo. When she wrote Bella at Midnight I was eager to see how she did as a fiction writer. I liked the retelling of the Cinderella very well and have been a fan of her fiction ever since.
Molly is a low born child from a big family. Her mother is sickly, and her father is harsh, so as soon as she is able, her father sends her off to the castle to work as a scullery maid. Before she leaves, her mother tells her that they both have a gift to foresee the future and that Molly should never tell anyone of her gift. Molly is very unrefined, but at the castle she meets a stable boy, Tobias, who begins to teach her to work carefully and take pride in what she does. Her manner improves, and the servant over the silver recognizes her ability and enlists her to polish silver. One day while polishing a large, ornate silver bowl she sees a terrible vision of the death of a member of the royal family. When the vision comes to pass, and then more visions come predicting the death of more royals, she goes into action, and with Tobias' help, tries to save them and the kingdom.
This was a fun read. It isn't likely to win any awards, but it is a good basic fantasy with a strong and likable heroine. The characters in the story, Molly, Tobias, and even the Prince, grow, develop and become better people because of their adventures. This book works as a stand alone, but there are actually two more adventures of Molly and Tobias. (307 p)