3 out of 5 stars | Goodreads
I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.
Previously on the blog, I’ve discussed Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse Novels quite a bit. I’ve recommended books for fans of the TV show adaptation, written a guide to the series for Horror October, discussed representations of vampires in media and chatted about my thoughts on the series. The series may have dragged a little towards the end in my opinion, but I carried on reading because I had to know what happened to Sookie and co – and overall it’s a series that I’ll always cherish, for its wonderfully dark sense of humour and great cast of characters. So imagine my delight when I discovered that Charlaine was working on another series – one that promises to bring together characters from ALL of her previous series! And thanks to both Netgalley and the publisher, Gollancz, I’ve had the chance to read the first book.
The first chapter is written in a rather unusual style, introducing the reader to the small town (or rather hamlet) of Midnight, Texas. Although it was quite a nice way to set up the tiny community and its residents, there was just too much information to take in at once and some of it felt totally unnecessary – for example, about the decoration in Fiji’s house and garden. However, what the first chapter did give me was a picture of a close-knit community, that is perhaps hiding something a lot bigger and rather out of the ordinary. The idea of a small country town with just a few inhabitants, but ALL of them with something mysterious or secrets they want to keep hidden is a pretty engrossing one!
Although the story is told from several third person POVs, I suppose Manfred would be considered the main character. Everything begins when he moves into town, and the reader often sees the world through his eyes: like Manfred, they are also new to Midnight. I didn’t much like Manfred. He is an internet and telephone psychic, and whilst he genuinely has some ability (apparently, not that he has really used it yet) he actually admits that a lot of what he does is fictitious and uses psychological manipulation. He just seemed completely fraudulent to me, and then the fact that he thinks he can go at scoff at Fiji for being a witch seemed rather… laughable. He also develops a bit of fixation on one of the young girls in the town by the name of Creek, which was just creepy. Although he is revealed to be only twenty-two to her eighteen/nineteen (I originally assumed he was early to mid thirties), the way he thinks about this girl he barely knows is, for want of a better word, quite frankly rather ‘stalkerish’.
My favourite characters were Fiji, a witch who runs a shop and various classes on magic from her home, and her cat, Mr. Snuggly. Mr. Snuggly was actually one of the most interesting characters, in my opinion… I’d like to learn more about the Reverend, who is DEFINITELY hiding something and I have a suspicion as to what it might be, but looks like I’ll have to keep reading the series to confirm my theory.
As I mentioned at the beginning, Midnight Crossroad is sort of an amalgamation of all of Charlaine Harris’ previous novels, including characters from previous books, implying that they are in fact all set in the same universe. Despite the presence of a vampire, and the reference to True Blood (as ‘that synthetic stuff’) and various other supernatural entities, it felt like a very different world. Not that it’s a bad thing. The vampire in the story, Lemuel, is more accepted by his fellow citizens than many of the vampires of Bon Temps and Shreveport – although Midnight has a much, much smaller and apparently less prejudiced community. No-one seems to bat an eyelid at a vampire in their midst, and even when some more surprises come later on, everyone takes them fairly calmly. Which just goes to show that life in Midnight is not exactly ‘normal’… I found myself waiting for familiar characters from the Sookie Stackhouse Novels, but unfortunately none have appeared so far!
Although I did enjoy the book, I had a couple of criticisms. For the first third of the story, until Midnight’s residents made a shocking discovery, and the surprising twist that comes with it, it felt a bit dry. It wasn’t until that moment that I felt the book really picked up. I also have to question the logic of the citizens of Midnight. One character’s girlfriend ups and leaves two months prior to the beginning of the story. Without a single possession. And he ASSUMES that she’s just left him because she doesn’t love him, has met someone else etc – why would she go without a single thing? Why would you not report her as missing sooner? If someone you love DISAPPEARS without taking a single thing with them, not their purse, phone, passport etc, why would you assume it’s because they don’t care? The other problem I had with the book was the conclusion: Midnight’s residents deal with their ‘villain’ in a very illogical and stupid way, pretty much putting themselves at risk.
In conclusion, whilst I enjoyed Midnight Crossroad it didn’t feel like anything special. The conclusion was shocking, but for everything supernatural about Midnight it just seemed so… normal. However, if you’re a fan of Charlaine’s previous work, I’d recommend giving it a try.
And thanks to Gollancz, I also have an exciting link to share with you all: a free sample of the first four chapters of Midnight Crossroad!