Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Book Review: Midnight Crossroad; Charlaine Harris.

I actually feel quite disappointed with how little I enjoyed this reading experience. Whenever I have heard Charlaine Harris' name in the past, I've heard good things, and yet this book frustrated me on so many levels that I almost gave up on it. I am using it as an entry for this month's 'Key Word' challenge however.

SOURCE: Netgalley
TYPE: E-Read

TITLE: Midnight Crossroad
AUTHOR: Charlaine Harris
SERIES: Midnight, Texas (#1)
PUBLISHER: Gollancz
PAGES: 315
GENRE: Mystery, Urban Fantasy, Young Adult

RATING: 1/5 Stars

Blurb:
Welcome to Midnight, Texas, a town with many boarded-up windows and few full-time inhabitants, located at the crossing of Witch Light Road and Davy Road. It’s a pretty standard dried-up western town.

There’s a pawnshop (someone lives in the basement and is seen only at night). There’s a diner (people who are just passing through tend not to linger). And there’s new resident Manfred Bernardo, who thinks he’s found the perfect place to work in private (and who has secrets of his own).


Stop at the one traffic light in town, and everything looks normal. Stay awhile, and learn the truth...

What I Liked:
  • Quite a portion of the way through the book, there is quite a twist that I wasn't really expecting that causes the plot pacing to pick up a bit. I only wish that firstly, the entire book had been like that, and secondly it had at least continued to intrigue me until the end of the book. It was a pretty well done moment, but not enough to save the book.
What I Disliked:
  • Dividing this up is really hard because I want to go on a really big rant, but I'll start with Harris' writing. Certainly at the beginning, it felt a little wordy and simplistic. She took a long time to get to the point in many cases, and I felt rather bored through quite a lot of it. While I'm talking about Harris' writing style, when it came to describing characters I found myself getting particularly frustrated. Especially with the women, she felt the need to really describe their physical attributes, weight, curviness, everything. I don't know if this was just being overly-descriptive or an attempt to be empowering somehow, but it made me feel a little uncomfortable.
  • The character's were the biggest flaw, because in a book with not much going on they ought to be likeable. Manfred especially, as he is supposedly in the same position as the reader: not knowing anybody. However, I found him the worst of the lot. He supposedly had psychic abilities yet openly ran a false business conning people, had a hypocritical attitude towards Fiji's witchcraft yet instantly believed in the random vampire that showed up, and worst of all had an awful fixation on women. Despite the fact that Harris frequently reminded us that Manfred and Creek were only a few years apart, his thoughts on her were cringe-worthy. None of the characters appealed to me at all and most of them just made me angry.
  • So I mentioned in the last point that there wasn't a huge amount of plot. Most of the book is made up of characters peeking out of their windows and being suspicious of their neighbours. They whinge about their lives a lot, how hard it is to keep secrets and how awful it is that he chose such a horrible woman when they are totally in love with him. It grew old and didn't seem to develop the plot. As well as that, huge plot events seem to brushed over by them and swept up into their mundane lives. Like I said, it had the potential to get interesting, but sadly didn't.
Overall Conclusion:
It is probably pretty clear that this book wasn't for me. A lack of real plot with a really awful ending that didn't quite fit the story, unappealing and even irritating characters and way too much description and wordiness for me to handle. There were some little moments in the book where I thought it would pick up, but I remained disappointed. I think that Harris' knowledge of the South and the way it's communities work did help to make the world-building a little more impressive but there were just far too many mistakes for such a well-established writer.