The Review: Midnight Crosssroad

18107951Midnight Crossroad; Charlaine Harris,2014;The Berkley Pub. Group

When Ms. Harris decided to bring an end to the Sookie Stackhouse saga, she had my full support. Not every heroine’s story has the chutzpah to keep going and going and going and . . . You got the idea. Yet there are others that should have, or at least could have, if Ms. Harris had continued writing them. For instance, her Aurora Teagarden or Lily Bard-Shakspeare series, both, in my not so humble opinion, had the makings of a longer-than-they-were story. (Teagarden [8 novels] ended with Aurora getting pregnant and Bard [4 novels] ended with Jack getting the crap kicked out of him.) But be that as it may, some stories need to end, others-not-so-much.

So that leaves us with – stories that shouldn’t start.

As my readers know, occasionally I have to pull out my ‘Loyalty Reader’ card, (LR) in order to finish a novel by one of my fav authors. That would be the case with Ms. Harris latest, Midnight Crossroad (a first in the Midnight, Texas series). Normally I give a new author a couple of paragraphs to hook me, a seasoned favorite as many as ten or twenty. But after the two hundredth page of Ms. Harris newest novel, the only thing that kept me turning the page was my LRC and the fact that I promised to reward myself with another authors newest novel when I finished.

So why was this such a difficult book to read? Well, I’ve narrowed it down to three things; story, character and voice.

Story. ( which is about the residence of a-blink-in-the-road-town in Texas and the murder of one of its less-than-loved citizens – using by the by, one of the characters from Harris’ Lily Bard series). It never launched. Not at the opening. Not when they found the dead body. Not when the town rallied together to find the killer. It just never got off the ground. Like a firecracker that fails to sputter, Midnight Crossroad failed to raise even a spark of interest.

Character. As I’ve said before, good character development can save even a badly written book (even a bad story), but in this case, the characters were as lackluster as the story. Even with a hint of the abnormal about them, the citizens of Midnight, Texas were not roadside attraction material.

Voice. Not Ms. Harris’, but the characters. Except for Fiji and Mr. Snuggles, the character’s in this novel-story lacked individuality, pizzazz,  grit, texture. There was nothing that made them unique, separate or individual. If you took them out of the environment each inhabited and didn’t mention their names, there was nothing that distinguished one from the other. Which is in and of itself, all part of character development. Granted, not every character has to be unique, but there ought to be at least two or three that are. Especially when the story gives them equal attention.

If Midnight Crossroad had been just a bad novel in the middle of a great series, I’d have given it the can’t-win-them-all shrug. But this is a first in a series. Which makes me skeptical about the future Midnight, Texas novels.

On my readers scale of 1-5 stars, I’m giving Midnight Crossroads . . .



Dead Ever After: The Review

Dead Ever After; Charlaine Harris, 2013; Ace Books  15985348

From the first “Dead Until Dark” until ‘Dead Ever After” I have been a Sookie Stackhouse fan. But I’m not disappointed that we’ve finally reached the end of the road with our blonde, pony-tailed, telepathic heroine. I mean, lets get real here folks, a woman can only be stabbed, shot, bitten, spelled, immobilized and dumped by the dead just so many times before it’s time to make a few life choices that don’t start and end with things that go bump or groan in the night.

And for those fans that are moaning, groaning and whining about the choice Sookie did make, all I can say is, Get the heck over yourselves! From the beginning there was only one outcome for our heroine and it wasn’t among the dead. And besides that, what woman in or out of her right mind would want to spend the best years of her life staked to someone who can only come out to play after dark and has such a limited palette as A, B or O, and wouldn’t think twice about sampling which blood type your friends are?

Yet, as much as I like our blonde vamp magnet I enjoy Harris’s other series, such as the Lily Bard and Aurora Teagarden mysteries, just as much. Granted all the characters in these novels stay dead and the only thing ‘supernatural’ about them is possibly what color the antagonist colored their hair that week, but the same writing skills that made us love Sookie Stackhouse can be found in Charlaine’s other novels as well.

Which would then lead us to believe that it wasn’t as much the characters that made us run out and buy a copy of the latest Stackouse novel before the ink was even dry (as important as that is), as it was the ability of their creator to tell a really great story. And of course the natural conclusion to that line of thought would be, Where one story ends another can now begin.

On my readers scale of 1-5 stars, I’m giving Dead Ever After 3.5 stars for a good story and Charlaine Harris 5 stars for having the courage to help Sookie get on with her life.