A tiny crossroad town called Midnight in the middle of nowhere; an ensemble cast with dark secrets and extraordinary abilities; terrifying antagonists including racist bikers and supernatural creatures: this sounds like the setup for a fantastic new fantasy series – and it nearly manages to be. Unfortunately, Midnight Crossroad, the latest book by Charlaine Harris, is rather less than the sum of its parts.
Harris is the author of the popular Sookie Stackhouse series, adapted into the award winning TV series True Blood starring NZ’s very own Anna Paquin. The Stackhouse series blends the supernatural into everyday Southern life in America, and this new series seems to want to go in the same direction.
After the prologue has quirkily – if a little clumsily – set the scene, fantasy elements are introduced quickly, with hints of more to come later on. Psychic newcomer Manfred has an awkward encounter with a vampire before attempting to befriend Fiji, a gentle witch. Fiji is in love with the oddly named Bobo, a handsome man who owns the pawn shop in Midnight – one of only five or so shops in the boarded up town. Some of the items in the pawn shop are possibly more magical than they look. Bobo’s girlfriend has left him, but in Midnight things are never as they seem, and the whole town is quickly drawn together to stop the darkness that threatens them all.
So far, so good. This all seems promising, and the first half of the book lives up to that promise. Lives are threatened, murderous plots are uncovered and secrets are slowly revealed. And then… nothing else happens. Or rather, events that have been foreshadowed since the beginning are suddenly over for no particular reason, replaced by other plot points that make very little sense and are resolved far too quickly (with some rather shady ethics involved, I might add) and then it’s back to descriptions of the mundane details of many not so mundane lives in a big lead up to… the next book.
Midnight Crossroad‘s blurb urges readers to “stay a while, and learn the truth”, so its rather frustrating to discover that the whole “truth” about the town of Midnight and its residents will have to wait until book two. The truth about this first book, however, is plain: despite an interesting premise, great characters and a lot of potential, it never goes anywhere.
It’s not all bad, just disappointing, as aside from these faults, Midnight Crossroad is charming and fun. Despite the death and heartbreak that occurs throughout it’s also a strangely innocent read. It’s a shame that the entire book feels like a prologue for a much longer story that hasn’t been released yet.
Midnight Crossroad, by Charlaine Harris, is published by Hachette. RRP is $34.99.